The Purpose of Triangle Restaurant Week Revisited – A Mea Culpa

Last night, I received an email from one of my readers telling me she had posted the Triangle Restaurant Week menus on her blog and thought that I might be interested.  I responded as follows: “‘m not going to write about Restaurant Week this year, primarily because I don’t have the time, but also because I see places like _______ that are selling items that would be $25 on their regular menu for $30. This should be a week of bargains where the discounts entice people to try. Many places follow that credo, but many do not.”

This morning, I posted the following on Twitter: “It’s hard to support Triangle Restaurant Week when many places’ offerings are more expensive this week than at other times.”

I then got in a debate with Charlie Deal, the owner and chef of Jujube and Dos Perros about the purpose of Restaurant Week.  This debate carried over to the comments section of one of my blog posts from 2009, where I was arguing about the purpose of Restaurant Week altogether.  In my comments, I said that there were a number of restaurants that did the following: They created a menu for Restaurant Week containing an appetizer, entree and dessert for $30, and if you ordered those 3 items off their regular menu, the total would be less than $30.  I essentially called the practice fraudulent and chastised the organizers of Restaurant Week for allowing such a practice.

There’s only one problem with this argument.  I haven’t found a single restaurant that is actually doing this.

Now I found a number of restaurants that included some items from their regular menu on their RW menu, but the appetizers might be different.  For example, one restaurant (and I’m not naming names this year) has a soup on its RW menu that is not on the regular menu, but it’s very similar to what  is typically offered.  There is an entree and a dessert that are on both the regular and RW menus.  So, if you ordered a  soup off the regular menu, and the entree and dessert that are on both menus, you’d end up paying about $25.  The RW menu costs you $30 for two identical items and one that is very comparable.

That’s not appropriate, in my opinion, and there is a relatively small handful of restaurants doing exactly this.

However, most of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week are trying to participate in good faith by following one of two paths: (1) their RW menu contains items that are quite different from their regular offerings (and usually represent a good deal); or (2) they’re offering things typically found on their regular menu, but at a discount.

Consequently, I was somewhat ill-informed, due to my own failure to carefully review the menus.  No one called me on this.  I discovered it myself and am letting folks know.  I hate to lose an argument, but I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.


4 Responses to The Purpose of Triangle Restaurant Week Revisited – A Mea Culpa

  1. Me says:

    Hi dean. Glad to see you writing again if only here and there. I would like to add something about Restaurant Week. As a local owner/chef who is participating in Restaurant Week I would like to encourage people to use this opportunity to try someplace new. Based on some other comments I have seen on the web it seems like most people are making their decision based on the best deal in town. I do think owners should have a deal this week, my restaurant does, but I think people should also keep in mind this past year has been very difficult for all of us. Most of the menus I see around town are a deal in their own right the other 51 weeks of the year. Most of the restaurant week menus I have seen leave very little room for profit for the owners if any at all. Restaurant Week has a lot of talented chefs in some wonderful restaurants putting out some very good food. I hope everyone finds a new favorite place during Restaurant Week and continues to support it instead of waiting until next January to go back just for the deal.

  2. Thank you. Not for any opinion you may have on restaurant week, but for standing up and saying what you just did. Integrity is a rare commodity these days, and it makes me feel better to see it in others.

  3. dmwcpa says:

    Well said. Cheers.

  4. Nando says:

    Here’s my issue with RW: I don’t eat desserts (I’m not a sweets person). Therefore, having a prix fixe menu that includes dessert is a losing proposition for me.

    I like the idea of RW, especially having come from DC, where even if I didn’t have the dessert (or brought it home to my neighbors), it was a good deal. I haven’t found such good deals here in the triangle and, as such, I don’t get excited about RW anymore.

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