D.C. Restaurant Week 2011: The deals, the people, the experience
Updated: January 18, 2011 - 10:05 am
- Mie N Yu (Photo Credit: Julia Benton)
“It’s a hit or miss as to whether or not you’re getting the best deal,” says Mike Isabella, former executive chef for Zaytinya. “It depends on the restaurant and what they’re offering.”
Isabella, whose Italian-inspired Graffiato is expected to open this spring, says it’s unfortunate that people can’t get the best deal at every restaurant, because the goal of Restaurant Week is for people to get the full experience.
He says when he was at Zaytinya, he was always sure to put his signature dishes on the Restaurant Week menu. “I didn’t care about making money or losing money, that was the one thing I did. I wanted people to come in and try all the signatures we were known for. Some restaurants will put out chicken and salmon. And I hate that because it’s like if you don’t want to do it right, don’t do it.”
Isabella admits that Restaurant Week can be a pain, but it has to be done. “It’s a way to reach people who might not otherwise come to your restaurant. And if you don’t participate, there’s a chance you could lose business during the week because everyone’s eating at the places that are participating.”
He says it’s tough in that it just gets a little boring and redundant, preparing the same dishes over and over again. But despite that, he says enjoys it because it gives people an opportunity to experience some of the city’s best restaurants for a lower price.
And will Graffiato be part of future Restaurant Weeks? Isabella says, “We’ll definitely be participating.”
“There are a lot of high-end restaurants that will dumb down their menu,” says Michael Cherner, assistant general manager for Mie N Yu. “For instance, if they don’t normally have salmon, they’ll add it for Restaurant Week, and I don’t think that’s what it’s about.”
Cherner says Mie N Yu uses the event as a way to reach out to people. “Yes, you will get some guests that don’t normally go out to restaurants and likely won’t return, but you’ll also get some that will end up becoming regulars.”
Many people do come out just for the promotion, he says. But at the same time there are so many ways to save money these days—through deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, OpenTable’s Spotlight, and Deals for Deeds—that people are able to dine out on a budget anytime they want.
Cherner expects to see between 1,200 to 2,000 guests at Mie N Yu during Restaurant Week. That’s a slight increase from what the restaurant sees during a regular week.
He says the restaurant doesn’t lose money during the event because people who would normally come in on a Tuesday night and order a couple glasses of wine and dessert will instead order a full meal off the promotional menu. This winter, the Georgetown restaurant is offering patrons four courses—instead of the standard three—with 15 dishes to choose from.
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