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The FT launched its 2008 ‘Lunch with the FT’ http://www.hardens.com/ft/lunch-with-the-ft.php?location=All in Saturday’s edition.

Unlike in previous years, participating restaurants don’t have to offer a menu to a price point. The only constraint is an upper limit of £20.08 (why the odd 8p?) for a minimum two courses.

I assume this means that restaurants will be using their standard lunch menu, in which case there is no benefit to booking the FT offer at a number of restaurants that are charging their normal prices.

I plan to sample lunch at one or two London restaurants courtesy of the FT deal. My shortlist includes outlets where the offer appears to give added value compared to the standard Prix Fixe:

La Trompette

The Ledbury

Chez Bruce

The Glasshouse

Arbutus

Any opinions on which of these I should go for?

NB No tokens to collect; you simply have to mention the FT when booking and take a copy of that day’s FT to the restaurant.

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The only constraint is an upper limit of £20.08 (why the odd 8p?) for a minimum two courses.

The 8p is to make the price resemble the year so £20.08 = 2008!! How clever is that - good old FT! :rolleyes:

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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The FT deal, like the Times deal of a few years ago, gets people into your dining room. No, you won't make as much profit as with a normal TDH or carte table but the trade-off is that you get new blood in through the door as well as both existing customers and the "never to return" brigade.

In the case of existing customers, treat it as a reward for loyalty. As for the "never to return" brigade, you never know who they'll talk to and they may have friends who do eat out more regularly. It's just another form of advertising, but a well-targeted one, and your establishment appearing in the FT offer is not the sign of a sinking ship, merely of one that would like to be busier than it currently is.

I see very little difference between this offer and the usual practise of running a TDH menu at lunches and early evenings.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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I used to have a hi-life card, platinum (£85) which got 2-1 at the decent places and weekends. It served me well at Le Mont, Midland French etc. :biggrin:

I stopped renewing it about three years ago as more restaurants and food related websites (like Manchester Confidential) started doing their own deals. The power of the internet I suppose.

Hi-Life is very flexible from a restaraunt owners pespective, you have freedom to offer what you want, doesn't have to be 2-1. Can restrict the days, which service etc.

David heely has indeed done very well out of it, I remember him trying to flog his Lytham abode for £600K+ on the back of one of the quartely HL magazines.

:hmmm:

Just by coincidence he had an article inside with the main man from Stocks doing a dinner party for him (which DH had "won" apparently), full photo spread....handy.

Gave him a bit of a ribbing on that one at the G-mex spectacular that master Thom runs...

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I used to have a hi-life card, platinum (£85) which got 2-1 at the decent places and weekends. It served me well at Le Mont, Midland French etc. :biggrin:

I stopped renewing it about three years ago as more  restaurants and food related websites (like Manchester Confidential) started doing their own deals. The power of the internet I suppose.

Hi-Life is very flexible from a restaraunt owners pespective, you have freedom to offer what you want, doesn't have to be 2-1. Can restrict the days, which service etc.

David heely has indeed done very well out of it, I remember him trying to flog his Lytham  abode for £600K+ on the back of one of the quartely HL magazines.

:hmmm:

Just by coincidence he had an article inside with the main man from Stocks doing a dinner party for him (which DH had "won" apparently), full photo spread....handy.

Gave him a bit of a ribbing on that one at the G-mex spectacular that  master Thom runs...

Below is the acceptable bit of my original post earlier up the thread which prompted Infrasonic's response RE Hi-Life. Without this context it would appear as if Infra has just rambled off on some unrelated tangent like some sherry-sozzled great aunt at Christmas dinner.

That, Mr Sonic, is MY job!

Cheers

Thom

"Back to the subject of the FT promotion, or on the more general subject of restaurant promotions, has anyone looked at Hi-Life? It operates on a similar principle to the FT scheme (albeit all year round) and is proof in my eyes that whether you believe such initiatives work for the restaurants or not the punters buy in and the schemes do add up in business terms.

Hi-Life is a dining club scheme that generally offers two for one meals at off-peak times. It has around 40,000 members (normally people dine as a couple so they claim 80,000 dining members) and around 1,500 restaurants signed up. It started in the North West so is strongest there but it is making inroads in Yorkshire and has an eye for a nationwide expansion.

Some restaurants rate it. Most of their costs are fixed so a two for one pair of meals on a quiet Tuesday lunch (with the hopeful word of mouth/repeat business that will bring) doesn't hit the pocket too much and could pay dividends. Others think it is "simply giving food away!" and is therefore a sign of stupidity or desperation.

Hi-Life has been built up steadily over 20 years so there's no denying the format works for the punters. As for Hi-Life itself think of the maths:

Costs - A small team selling the idea to restaurants (who don't have to pay, just sign up); consumer marketing largely contra-ed cost-free through regional media; a smattering of overheads and the production of the cards themselves and the annual restaurant directory.

Revenues - Around 40,000 members annually at approx £45 a go...? That's some profit margin. No wonder Chairman David Heely always looks chirpy when I see him. As part of there marketing they also produce stats as to the annual spend on eating out by their members and the numbers are hugely impressive (as you would expect them to be!).

You know what though? Despite the fact that I eat out all over the North West more than most I know, I haven't signed up. The scheme does polarise local chefs and restaurateurs, and as through my business I work with a lot of them, the cost of the odd extra (tax deductible!) meal is well worth it to avoid the risk of getting up their noses.

Cheers

Thom"

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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You know what though? Despite the fact that I eat out all over the North West more than most I know, I haven't signed up. The scheme does polarise local chefs and restaurateurs, and as through my business I work with a lot of them, the cost of the odd extra (tax deductible!) meal is well worth it to avoid the risk of getting up their noses.

Seems crazy to sign up for a scheme and then resent people using it. Isn't the whole point of filling tables a quiet times that you fill tables at um... quiet times? I missed the shenanigans here yesterday, so I hope I'm not covering old, fetid ground.

Although I can see your point Thom in your role, I can't see why such a deal should polarise any chef/proprietor.

slacker,

Padstow, Cornwall

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I always thought that hi-life was a much better deal for hi - life themselves rather than the restaurant or punter.

i'm not sure they still do it but in the early days some places limited its use so you could only go once to the featured establishment, they were numbered on the rear.

there's booking conditions often too and you're unlikely to be able to use it on a weekend.

so if you like to 'eat out' and aren't too fussed where, and have a penchant for tuesday night dining, then it might be of use but it was of no use to me, the places i would have gone were generally owned by people i knew so i'd feel like thom, it would be a bit out of order to use the card there.

sarah was bought one a few years ago which i think we used once or twice, we were given a free one when we had the pub as part of their recruitment process didn't use that either (and yes, their sales pack is full of great statistics)

Full credit to hi-life if they can get 40k subscribers at £40 a pop and hold onto them it's a great business.

you don't win friends with salad

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I assume this means that restaurants will be using their standard lunch menu, in which case there is no benefit to booking the FT offer at a number of restaurants that are charging their normal prices.

It's impossible to guarantee, but restaurants shouldn't be offering a standard menu: the whole point of the promotion is that it should be a unique ‘deal’, and this point was made quite explicit to all participants.

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It's impossible to guarantee, but restaurants shouldn't be offering a standard menu: the whole point of the promotion is that it should be a unique ‘deal’, and this point was made quite explicit to all participants.

Usually it's best to just look out through the year at what restaurants are offering 2/3 courses for a decent price usually just over £30 for 3 courses.The FT offer is hype over nothing much and from my experience the food that is sent out is usually not up to the standard of the restaurant de jour menu for a similiar price.Its just a scheme to sell more newspapers!

Never trust a skinny Chef

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It's impossible to guarantee, but restaurants shouldn't be offering a standard menu: the whole point of the promotion is that it should be a unique ‘deal’, and this point was made quite explicit to all participants.

Usually it's best to just look out through the year at what restaurants are offering 2/3 courses for a decent price usually just over £30 for 3 courses.The FT offer is hype over nothing much and from my experience the food that is sent out is usually not up to the standard of the restaurant de jour menu for a similiar price.Its just a scheme to sell more newspapers!

That must mean you have either cooked to a standard you know is not good, or you have taken up the offer somewhere wacky chef and then proceeded to slam it on this page?

In my experience, yes banging out lots of covers for £10 ahead 3 course, which i cannot remember what offer it was but is was about 5 years ago, it might of been ft, is very demoralising for staff and not a lot of returnn for the restaurant, and i would agree a lot of people take that offer up drink tap water and never come back, but for £20 you can definatly offer a nice 3 course meal, be busier than usal and make a bit of money and raise the profile of the restaurant

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The FT launched its 2008 ‘Lunch with the FT’ http://www.hardens.com/ft/lunch-with-the-ft.php?location=All  in Saturday’s edition.

Unlike in  previous years, participating restaurants don’t have to offer a menu to a price point. The only constraint is an upper limit of £20.08 (why the odd 8p?) for a minimum two courses.

I assume this means that restaurants will be using their standard lunch menu, in which case there is no benefit to booking the FT offer at a number of restaurants that are charging their normal prices.

I plan to sample lunch at one or two London restaurants courtesy of the FT deal. My shortlist includes outlets where the offer appears to give added value compared to the standard Prix Fixe:

La Trompette

The Ledbury

Chez Bruce

The Glasshouse

Arbutus

Any opinions on which of these I should go for?

NB No tokens to collect; you simply have to mention the FT when booking and take a copy of that day’s FT to the restaurant.

Two of us had the FT lunch at Arbutus today (Monday). No problem booking four days ago, but the restaurant was packed.

I thought that it was good value. Three courses, three choices a course, plus a third of a bottle of wine a head (choice of Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc), all for £20.08 excluding service. If I remember correctly, the normal set lunch is two choices a course and costs £15.50 (?).

We both chose a salad of pink fir potatoes and ox tongue - good earthy tastes, although the presence of raw onion was going to be a bit hard on my guest's colleagues when he returned to his shared office. The Merlot was a good match for this course.

We both chose pollack with chorizio as a main course - nice piece of fish, although at these prices I suppose the portion control had to be a bit fierce.

I had baked rice pudding to finish, served in a miniture iron casserole - perfect nursery food, although I'd have loved a spoonful of jam to stir into it (perhaps I should have asked).

With an extra glass (125ml, I think) of wine (a Picpoul de Pinet at £3.95), two coffees and service charge, the bill was just over £55.

Service was charming and professional, an improvement over my only previous visit.

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