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Bennigan's Goes Bust


Toliver
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From the article in the New York Times:

The parent company of Bennigan’s, an Irish-themed bar and grill with about 200 sites across the country, filed for bankruptcy, a move that will put hundreds of employees out of work and leave many landlords with empty retail space during a painful time in the real estate market.

A sister brand, Steak & Ale, will also close. Franchise units of Bennigan’s will remain open for now, a spokeswoman, Leah Templeton, wrote in an e-mail message.

Thanks to the economy, is this a sign of things to come, as the article suggests?

I'm more worried about the local mom & pop restaurants and try to give them my business when I can afford it.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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From the article in the New York Times:
The parent company of Bennigan’s, an Irish-themed bar and grill with about 200 sites across the country, filed for bankruptcy, a move that will put hundreds of employees out of work and leave many landlords with empty retail space during a painful time in the real estate market.

A sister brand, Steak & Ale, will also close. Franchise units of Bennigan’s will remain open for now, a spokeswoman, Leah Templeton, wrote in an e-mail message.

Thanks to the economy, is this a sign of things to come, as the article suggests?

I'm more worried about the local mom & pop restaurants and try to give them my business when I can afford it.

That's a fair question. I don't know what the restaurant scene is like where you live, but in the Dallas area, it's been getting very bad lately. Lots of closures. Small local places. Places that are part of larger restaurant groups, but not really "chains" in the coventional sense. This just adds onto it, especially since they are based here in the Dallas area.

But Mike has a valid point. This chain isn't exactly what a lot of people would describe as "good". We all know how competitive the industry is. It can be tough to survive even in the best of times if you can't keep up, adapt to changes, deliver good food and service, etc.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Perhaps high food prices could have a purging effect on the market...  If people have to spend more, maybe they'll think harder about what they spend it on.

Or maybe they'll eat at Taco Bell.

It's interesting that you say this. I recently read an article stating that McDonald's is considering raising its prices on their Dollar Menu. The article said that menu accounts for 14% of their revenue, which, if you do the math, is quite a lot of money.

It goes on to say they're testing higher prices in some markets for the Double Cheeseburger, the anchor product of the Dollar Menu. My guess is that they'll find some customers balking at paying the higher price but, overall, it'll fly because consumers tend to resign themselves to price increases.

They've done this before. They used to run specials like 2 Egg McMuffins for $2, which eventually became 2 for $2.22 and then 2 for $2.50. The last special I saw was 2 for $3.

Regarding the economy, what's also interesting is the $5 barrier for fast food that has appeared. Subway started it with their Footlong sandwiches for $5. Quiznos responded with their $5 sandwiches ("with more meat!"). El Pollo Loco has their "double the chicken" in their Family Meals for $5. KFC has been touting a $2.99 2-piece meal so they're under the $5 barrier. I am sure they're are more examples out there.

It's just not Fast Food places trying to drum up business. The Sizzler has been advertising a "Buy one steak dinner, get another for one dollar" special.

And I was amazed to find coupons for the Elephant Bar, definitely not a fast food restaurant, in my junk mail. It will be interesting to see how many other chain restaurants start sending out coupons or advertising specials in order to drum up business.

How can local mom & pop places compete with that?

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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getting coupons from fast food restaurants has been going on for a long time. Even small local places do it. At least, i've seen them in my junk mail.

Recently, I got a coupon for a free burrito, order of tacos, or burrito bowl from a nearby Chipotle. I kept that one and plan on using it soon.

It will be interesting to see them adjust the "Dollar Menu". Will they make it the "Buck FIfty" menu? Or will they simply remove the double cheeseburger from the Dollar Menu and put it on the regular menu wit h a price bump?

You are right that some will be mad. But don't forget all the people who get mad when a store or restaurant holds the price on something, but cuts the size. There are plenty of people who would simple prefer to get the same the (size, quality, etc) and just pay the extra money to do so.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I think Bennigan's and its ilk -- Applebee's, Chile's, TG Fridays may be in a very bad place in the current dining economy. People with money will always support fine dining and restaurants that start with Momo. The McDonald's, BKs and Taco Bells will be fine, even with an annoying price increase. Less fortunate mall mid-priced places are gonna hurt.

I'm hoping White Castle will come out of this recession just fine.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I also think that physically, sliders might survive a nuclear holocaust.

I agree, and I'm cheered by that, because sliders are my guiltiest pleasure. I fear for the Onion Flower dealio at Chile's, tho.

The happy daze of going to a mid-priced for Mall restaurant for the baked potato soup and the Happy Hour mozz sticks I predict to be dying or dead.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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It will be interesting to see them adjust the "Dollar Menu".  Will they make it the "Buck FIfty" menu?  Or will they simply remove the double cheeseburger from the Dollar Menu and put it on the regular menu with a price bump?

I've already seen a local Mickey D's with the absence of a Dollar Menu. All of what used to be on the Dollar Menu were now on an "Other Values" Menu priced at $1.40. It is a rather surprisingly expensive McDonalds on the whole (all, and I mean *all* value meals were above $5 before tax, and some were more than $6), so this didn't surprise me much.

What I *am* finding surprising is the disparity between one McDonalds and the next, price-wise. Example: I've seen the same Big & Tasty value meal be as cheap as $3.60 plus tax, and well over $5 plus tax in the same general area. I guess that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

BTW, you'll enjoy that free burrito at Chipotle. Go for the carnitas (pork), and dress it up nicely. Of the quick-serve burrito places I've tried, I enjoy Chipotle the best.

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I think it's more a sign that Bennigan's sucked.  Even among those types of restaurants, Bennigan's was bad.

Agreed. My husband and I ate there once. ONCE. We affectionately refer to it as "The Ass Steak Incident". That was the single worst piece of food that ever passed through these lips. We couldn't decide whether it was meat that went bad or if it was just awful. When we mentioned it to the waitress she blamed it on the marinade but took them off the bill anyway. We had Guinness for dinner that night.

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Perhaps high food prices could have a purging effect on the market...  If people have to spend more, maybe they'll think harder about what they spend it on.

Or maybe they'll eat at Taco Bell.

It's interesting that you say this. I recently read an article stating that McDonald's is considering raising its prices on their Dollar Menu. The article said that menu accounts for 14% of their revenue, which, if you do the math, is quite a lot of money.

It goes on to say they're testing higher prices in some markets for the Double Cheeseburger, the anchor product of the Dollar Menu. My guess is that they'll find some customers balking at paying the higher price but, overall, it'll fly because consumers tend to resign themselves to price increases.

They've done this before. They used to run specials like 2 Egg McMuffins for $2, which eventually became 2 for $2.22 and then 2 for $2.50. The last special I saw was 2 for $3.

Regarding the economy, what's also interesting is the $5 barrier for fast food that has appeared. Subway started it with their Footlong sandwiches for $5. Quiznos responded with their $5 sandwiches ("with more meat!"). El Pollo Loco has their "double the chicken" in their Family Meals for $5. KFC has been touting a $2.99 2-piece meal so they're under the $5 barrier. I am sure they're are more examples out there.

It's just not Fast Food places trying to drum up business. The Sizzler has been advertising a "Buy one steak dinner, get another for one dollar" special.

And I was amazed to find coupons for the Elephant Bar, definitely not a fast food restaurant, in my junk mail. It will be interesting to see how many other chain restaurants start sending out coupons or advertising specials in order to drum up business.

How can local mom & pop places compete with that?

Did you know that most things on the dollar menu in the US cost 1.39 in Canada? Oh, except for a breakfast burrito and a fruit and yogurt parfait. Those are both 1.99 each.

*sigh*, I really miss El Pollo Loco. IMHO, it was one of the better fast food chains. After eating at Jimmy John's( any large 8" sub is 5.25), I wouldnt touch Subway with a 10 ft pole.

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Does anybody have fond memories of Bennigans from the distant past? I've talked to other people about this, and it seems many people really liked going there. But in the past. And they all pretty much agree it has slid downhill a great deal since those fond memories.

Did you watch your favorite sports team here? Did you go there all the time with co-worker friends for happy hour? Any GOOD stories?

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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What I *am* finding surprising is the disparity between one McDonalds and the next, price-wise.  Example:  I've seen the same Big & Tasty value meal be as cheap as $3.60 plus tax, and well over $5 plus tax in the same general area.  I guess that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Yes, franchises are allowed to set their own prices (within reason, I suppose). There's a McDonald's in my neighborhood that charges about 50 cents more :angry: for each combo meal than the McDonald's near my workplace. The one in my neighborhood rarely gets my business because of this.

Location is also a factor. Usually, any McDonald's out in the middle of nowhere (so it has no competition) will charge more for the food as will a travel-stop McDonald's (exit the freeway to buy gas and then stop by the McDonald's for an expensive combo).

As for Bennigan's, I went to one decades ago (it had to be in the 1980's). I can't recall what I had. Why didn't I go back? I think perception was the problem. At the time, it wasn't really considered a destination restuarant but more of a pick-up joint that also happened to serve food. :laugh:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Perhaps high food prices could have a purging effect on the market...  If people have to spend more, maybe they'll think harder about what they spend it on.

Or maybe they'll eat at Taco Bell.

It's interesting that you say this. I recently read an article stating that McDonald's is considering raising its prices on their Dollar Menu. The article said that menu accounts for 14% of their revenue, which, if you do the math, is quite a lot of money.

It goes on to say they're testing higher prices in some markets for the Double Cheeseburger, the anchor product of the Dollar Menu. My guess is that they'll find some customers balking at paying the higher price but, overall, it'll fly because consumers tend to resign themselves to price increases.

They've done this before. They used to run specials like 2 Egg McMuffins for $2, which eventually became 2 for $2.22 and then 2 for $2.50. The last special I saw was 2 for $3.

Oddly enough, down here in South Florida the McDonald's still have the 2 for $2.00 breakfast thing going. The specials change about once a month, but it's a pretty good deal, really!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Perhaps high food prices could have a purging effect on the market...  If people have to spend more, maybe they'll think harder about what they spend it on.

Or maybe they'll eat at Taco Bell.

It's interesting that you say this. I recently read an article stating that McDonald's is considering raising its prices on their Dollar Menu. The article said that menu accounts for 14% of their revenue, which, if you do the math, is quite a lot of money.

It goes on to say they're testing higher prices in some markets for the Double Cheeseburger, the anchor product of the Dollar Menu. My guess is that they'll find some customers balking at paying the higher price but, overall, it'll fly because consumers tend to resign themselves to price increases.

They've done this before. They used to run specials like 2 Egg McMuffins for $2, which eventually became 2 for $2.22 and then 2 for $2.50. The last special I saw was 2 for $3.

Oddly enough, down here in South Florida the McDonald's still have the 2 for $2.00 breakfast thing going. The specials change about once a month, but it's a pretty good deal, really!

I was in Houston not long ago and ordered two sausage biscuits and was charged just over two dollars. Out this way, you pay over $2 for a single sausage biscuit in Spearfish, SD. So, I got on the road and in the bag were two hash browns I hadn't ordered. I remembered the girl behind the counter was pretty cute, and having just scored pretty good with the ladies the night before in a most unanticipated manner, I was struttin' about thinking I'd caught her eye and been rewarded some free potatoes.

Then I looked at the receipt, and everything was there rung up nice and proper. Which made me wonder whether mailing sausage biscuits to Wyoming wouldn't be a more economical option.

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I used to eat lunch at Bennigan's with co-workers, but it's been 3-4 years since we've gone back. This is partly because we've all become more particular, partly because Bennigan's food quality went downhill, and partly because of all the mice. They had serious Health Dept. issues in our local Bennys.

One lunch I ordered the lemonade (2 for 1!), only I didn't realize it was Lynchburg Lemonade. I don't know why I didn't figure out it was an alcoholic drink, but that afternoon was one of the most pleasant workdays I ever had.

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Does anybody have fond memories of Bennigans from the distant past?  I've talked to other people about this, and it seems many people really liked going there. But in the past.  And they all pretty much agree it has slid downhill a great deal since those fond memories.

Did you watch your favorite sports team here? Did you go there all the time with co-worker friends for happy hour?  Any GOOD stories?

When I was little, my mom and I used to duck out to Bennigans for a mom-daughter lunch every now and then. They used to have a great pasta primavera (lots of vegtables with a great kick) but took it off the menu some time ago. I don't think we went back very many times after that.

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I'm not really surprised that Bennigin's is in this position. Friday's, Applebee's, Chili's and all of the restaurants like them won't be able to keep up their margin's either. Think about it. These restaurant have been serving overpriced garbage food for a long time now. People are becoming a bit more food savvy and are tired of the pricing. They make a lot of money on their drinks which are highly overpriced. And don't forget about the fact that they give people a massive amount of food. Half of it goes to waste because they can't eat it all. And then they give massive desserts that are the size of a meal. It could be that people are saying: " I don't need that much food. I'd rather go somewhere where the portions are smaller and manageable." I can't imagine they were making much money on the food. Probably wasted more food than they bought. They were making it on volume. Now that the economy is in the tank, they don't have volume, so guess what? Down the drain they go.

--- KensethFan

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I used to eat lunch at Bennigan's with co-workers

I did too, if there was a good-bye party, a promotion party or a Friday evening whoop-de-doo planned by hungry twenty- something kids. In fact, I think these jollifications are the only time I went to Benny's. I have a few fond memories, but they aren't about the food, the drink or the price. It was strictly "Party on, Dude."

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I'm not really surprised that Bennigin's is in this position.  Friday's, Applebee's, Chili's and all of the restaurants like them won't be able to keep up their margin's either.  Think about it.  These restaurant have been serving overpriced garbage food for a long time now.  People are becoming a bit more food savvy and are tired of the pricing.  ...

Interestingly enough, there was a Newsweek article excerpted on th MSNBC website earlier today that talked about the Bennigan's closing and basically said, Bennigan's was seen as more outdated than other options, and most people prefer places like *hork* Olive Garden. So I don't know that I'd extend the doom & gloom to all dreck chains with commisary-style food. Those *dreck chains* that at least have the apperance of keeping up with the times, and re-doing their menus to be "light" and "healthy" will probably be just fine, no matter what they charge. The big diss against Bennigan's was that their menu was perceived as heavy and dated, and the individual outlets' decor was also perceived as passe.

Several quotes in the article basically reiterated the same thing........."I'd rather go to Olive Garden".

Go figure.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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