Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ducasse's Discount

Lately, I've been wondering a lot about the extent of the "hit" the restaurant industry is likely to take from the severe economic downturn.

Several days ago, in this article USA Today's Jerry Shriver wrote:

Is this the bargain of the year, or an indicator of how desperate things are — and are going to get — in the upscale restaurant industry?

Multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, who operates some of the priciest eateries in the world, offers a $1 appetizer at his Benoit bistro in New York. The "egg mayo," on the menu since the April opening, resembles a deviled egg and comes with a slice of toasted French bread and a lettuce leaf.

Maybe this tasty morsel is just Ducasse's wry commentary on the state of the economy — all of the other appetizers cost an average of $14. Or it could be that he's pulling out all the stops to keep customers coming through the door of his restaurant, which is located on some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

If it's the latter, he's joining the legions of restaurateurs across the country who are lowering prices, adding low-cost bar menus, offering coupons and two-for-one specials and expanding their open hours to keep traffic flowing.

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