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It's Tuesday evening and we're not busy


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Living in Newcastle upon Tyne we do go out a lot to restaurants. However, it becomes more and more clear that dining out midweek can be a very strange experience. Take last week, when we decided at short notice to go out on a Tuesday. Rather than our familiar local cheapie, a wonderful Sardinian cafe called Pani's, we decided on a change. Cue a new Bangladeshi place, opened at lavish expense and with good write-ups. We arrived at 20:45, looked through the window of an 80 cover restaurant, to see one person in total eating there.

In desperation, and still seeking a change, we decided to call in on a new branch of the Italian chain, Strada. Arriving, we noted about eight people dining in a very large city centre space. Now, I don't mind a reasonably quiet place, but a restaurant needs at least a few customers to generate an atmosphere. Ironically, we ended up at Pani's which at least had about 16 people dining in a room that isn't too big.

Based on that and other experiences, I would have some concerns about being a restaurateur in a city where you are probably dependent on just three nights trade (Thu - Sat) to generate your profit, bearing in mind that there isn't a big demand for lunchtime bookings.

Is this the same in other British cities, excluding the capitals of course?

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Thats why a lot of restaurants close on Mondays all day. Here in London tumbleweed blows through most places monday and tuesday. London is still a city, unlike say New York, where people go out for a treat, not as a regular practice. To spend money eating out on a monday or tuesday would seem decadent, especially when there are sausages in the fridge and The Apprentice on telly - best wait for the latter half of the week is most ordinary folks' thinking.

Of course I have no idea what the wealthy Londoner does. Probably has a posh takeaway sent round. They don't like getting the Smeg dirty if they can help it, not when the Polish cleaner isn't due until friday!

S

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Is this the same in other British cities, excluding the capitals of course?

I'd say so in Leicester, though of course good, cheap places in the right location can do business much of the time. I agree with the comments about people's attitudes to eating out in London - and of course it applies even more so here. I review for a newspaper and it can sometimes be hard to get someone to come out with me even for free early in the week.

And Pani's is great, isn't it? I wish something similar here...

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Last night I was at the Drunken Duck in the Lake District (full address - middle of bleeding nowhere) and it was so busy they could only do us a table at 8.45pm. Not bad for a Monday night. I'm just about to eat out in Leith so I'll report back on business later.

Edited by Andy Lynes (log)
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Are all nationalities so freaked out by the prospect of walking into an empty restaurant? Or is the instinct to herd a British trait?

I can understand the reasoning when it's a backstreet Hong Kong chop shop with a seafood platter in the window. But surely the average British eaterie doesn't require constant custom to guarantee it won't poison the customers. And if, as this thread confirms, even good places can go quiet at the start of the week, why would we still insist on gauging places by the number of customers out front? Is that awkward atmosphere with wine waiter really so bad that it subsumes everything else?

Has anywhere ever tried employing stooge customers, like the professional mourners at 17th Century funerals?

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Are all nationalities so freaked out by the prospect of walking into an empty restaurant? Or is the instinct to herd a British trait?

I can understand the reasoning when it's a backstreet Hong Kong chop shop with a seafood platter in the window.

Not wanting to eat in an empty dining room does not imply wanting to eat in a full dining room.

Personally, I'm not particularly keen on either.

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there are exceptions to the rule (imho the destination restaurants don't conform) but your average place will be quiet as hell mid-week building to friday and saturday peak and a busy sunday if you do trad lunch.

at least london/major cities has expense account dining which can also distort.

it might sound suprising but thinking about it, it's probably the old 80/20 rule rearing it's ugly head (ie you do 80% of your biz with 20% of you customers or in the resto trade you do 80% of your business in 20% of your services)

what is a pain is when you get something on a saturday night that sucks the punters out of their routine, football, bonfire night, valentines, xmas etc.

you don't win friends with salad

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It's Tuesday night and we are fully booked!

How was the food Andy?

i assume you mean at the d duck mathew?! FWIW i thought it disappointing when i went late last year, not at all pubby too to slick and had no terroir (to be poncy) you could have eaten the restaurant menu in london easily, however the related punch bowl was significantly better, rustic but sylish.

you don't win friends with salad

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what is a pain is when you get something on a saturday night that sucks the punters out of their routine, football, bonfire night, valentines, xmas etc.

Mothers Day.....Easter Bank Holiday Weekend......etc etcetc :hmmm:

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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It's Tuesday night and we are fully booked!

How was the food Andy?

i assume you mean at the d duck mathew?! FWIW i thought it disappointing when i went late last year, not at all pubby too to slick and had no terroir (to be poncy) you could have eaten the restaurant menu in london easily, however the related punch bowl was significantly better, rustic but sylish.

There's a new chef Neil McCue (no idea where he's come from) who's doing some nice, simple dishes like braised shoulder of lamb with mash and spring greens and some rather more poncy affairs with foams and fancy presentations. He's sorting out his suppliers at the moment according to the menu blurb but we asked where the meat came from and were told Cornwall and Scotland which was a bit diappointing, especially as we'd seen Herdwick lamb and belted Galloway on a nearby farm. Service was quite slick although our waiter said he needed a drink after taking our order - we'd only asked him a couple of questions!

Edited by Andy Lynes (log)
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I'm just about to eat out in Leith so I'll report back on business later.

The Kitchin in Leith was fully booked last night, although they started clearing down at about 9.30pm (there's a picture window in the dining room into the main kitchen) so not many tables were turned.

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Are all nationalities so freaked out by the prospect of walking into an empty restaurant? Or is the instinct to herd a British trait?

... Is that awkward atmosphere with wine waiter really so bad that it subsumes everything else?

I wouldn't say I'm freaked out by walking into an empty restaurant, but most of my worst service experiences have been in very quiet restaurants. All too often, staff seem to assume that less customers mean more opportunity to chat amongst themselves or simply disappear for long periods. So it's not a fear of poisoning but rather fear of dying of old age by the time the bill comes which keeps me out...

Caroline

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Are all nationalities so freaked out by the prospect of walking into an empty restaurant? Or is the instinct to herd a British trait?

Although the main reason we go to a restaurant is presumably to enjoy good food and the company of one's dining partners, I think most of us would also admit that there is an element of pleasure in people watching. Sitting in a deserted room rather lends itself to talking in whispers. I also like to take my time over a meal and that can sometimes be difficult when there is an unstated pressure to finish so that the staff can all get away.

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