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DOV Industry View


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I know a lot of restaurant people read and post here, me being one of them.

I'm curious to hear the industry side of this event. How are the bookings, amount of no-shows, staff attitudes, wacky customer stories, and how are you coping?

As for me, I think it's one of the best promotional events I've ever been involved with. It's a great opportunity to expose your restaurant to a wider audience, plus keep your staff busy and add some cash flow to a historically slow time of year. Most managers I’ve talked to were almost sold-out within the first week of January!

My only complaint is that Visa hijacked the event, as customers now have to pay by Visa in order to enter the contest. DOV started as a joint event with members and Tourism Vancouver, funded by our membership dues and donated gift certificates for the contest. It almost sells out by word of mouth and self promotion. We really didn’t need the box of Visa posters and flyers that arrived last week when we were mostly sold-out, thanks. They will tell you that Visa provides sponsorship for this event, but it’s really the restaurants sponsoring it by way of discounted menus. Perhaps Visa will waive their merchant charges for this two-week period?:laugh:

I really love the busy room, and look forward to busy weeknights coming up. On the phone, I sometimes feel like an airline reservations host ( “I don't know how about the 23rd, what about later on the 25th, what if we are only two people? Honey! they only have 9:30!”) The calls can test your best customer service patience, but it’s worth it. We did get the occasional table with four $25 menus and four waters, (BTW when can we start charging for hot water and lemon?) but most customers had wine, were wonderful and appreciative and it was great to see so many new faces. Egullet is full of foodies and great diners but there are a lot of people whose version of fine dining is the local cactus club. With all due respect to cactus club, if this event brings them over to “our side” it’s great for the whole restaurant industry.

My favourite customer quote happened 90 minutes into Dine-out Vancouver 2005.

“ I can’t eat this. I’m allergic to almonds.”

“ I’m sorry, but did you not see the dessert listed on your $25 menu “Burnt Butter Almond Cake?”

“Yes, but I didn’t think it would have almonds on it.”

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Overall, i see DOV as a beneficial, valuable event. But is $25 for a three course meal really such a bargain? What is the actual quality of the meal and the overall experience? Are restaurants on top of their game when they're THAT busy?

Who benefits the most from the event?

Edited by edm (log)

Eddy M., Chef & Owner

Se.ed Artisan Foods, Vancouver BC

Follow Se.ed's growth at: http://spaces.msn.com/members/fromseedtofood/

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I have a love/loathe relationship with Dine Out. I love to go out and eat this time of year :wub: , but I loathe working it :wacko: .

The crowds tend to be of the bridge and tunnel variety who need to be walked through everything. Many are water tables. Regular diners seem to fade away.

The tips are generally poor despite the massive mark-down, and everything is rushed, rushed, rushed. The kitchen staff feel like mindless automatons cranking out chef-boy-am-I-hungry plates with monotonous consistency. More often than not at the end of a gruelling evening we cashout to discover we worked twice as hard for half the money.

But hey, being in the weeds in January is is a beautiful thing, though it would still be nice to kick this gift horse in the mouth. :wink:

PS. keep in mind that mine is a very mild annoyance in comparison to the grief i hear from other people in the biz. I'm not bitter or a self-serving, money-hungry ball of shameless greed...Dine Out is just a weird departure from the norm and it can get to you after a few days (said with more than a month left).

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Having just read the Bis Moreno DOV thread and then this I have a few things to say. Like others, I think this event is great because it fills the restaurants up at a typically quiet time of year. Unfortunately, alot of people will probably have experiences where they feel rushed or that the service is inattentive. I'm not sure about all the math but I think that in order for the event to be profitable in the short-term (especially for a smaller restaurant) you really have to cram alot of people in. I truly do not feel that it is a particularily good showcase of what each restaurant is really about and perhaps it would be a good idea to keep that in mind when you are judging each place you visit over the next few weeks.

Some other minor points:

If you have to wait for your table it is probably because the people before you were late or are lingering longer than expected.

If your service was lacking it may be that all the FOH staff is way too busy and try as they might they can't be with you as much as they would like to.

If you are feeling disappointed try to find a moment to communicate this to someone at the establishment. Remember, when complaining, do it nicely and you will be more likely to get a positive result.

Keep in mind, this is NOT business as usual for many of the restaurants. Everyone who works at the restaurants is working their asses off in order for things to come off as smoothly as possible.

May everyone have many great Dine Out experiences!!! Good luck to all staff at DOV joints!!

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I've served in 2 previous DOV events and will be staring my 3rd tomorrow. I personally look forward to the event, both as a consumer and a server. Last nights dinner at West was fantastic. Read Here.

As I server, I'm of two minds, which is two more than I usually have. On the one hand, I love introducing the restaurant to new guests, alot of whom are not considered "diners". Keep in mind, everyone must start somewhere on their way to becoming a lover of dining out. Yes, even the 4-top who are affectionatley known as the "107" table (4 guests, 4 waters, $25 plus tax). This year it's $35 and it just doesn't have the same ring with $139.80 :laugh: . Having said that, those people deserve as much attention as everyone else. As a sadist, I look forward to these 2 weeks.

Unfortunately, the food and service during DOV does not always live up to the restaurants reputation. Occasionally, this is because the establishments are not used to the volume. Sometimes, in trying to keep food costs down, the kitchen may cut corners, although this is definately not always the case. Quite frankly, most of us know that this will hurt the restaurant in the long run. Service can suffer because as we've already heard, there are those that hate to work during this event and as much as we keep a professional attitude, there are those guests that will pick up on this.

On the other hand, serving those "4 waters only" tables can get tiresome, especially when they are usually the most maintenance and the most frugal. So what exactly are my feelings?? I'll get back to you in 2 weeks :smile:

Derek

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Having just read the Bis Moreno DOV thread and then this I have a few things to say. Like others, I think this event is great because it fills the restaurants up at a typically quiet time of year. Unfortunately, alot of people will probably have experiences where they feel rushed or that the service is inattentive. I'm not sure about all the math but I think that in order for the event to be profitable in the short-term (especially for a smaller restaurant) you really have to cram alot of people in.  I truly do not feel that it is a particularily good showcase of what each restaurant is really about and perhaps it would be a good idea to keep that in mind when you are judging each place you visit over the next few weeks.

Some other minor points:

If you have to wait for your table it is probably because the people before you were late or are lingering longer than expected.

If your service was lacking it may be that all the FOH staff is way too busy and try as they might they can't be with you as much as they would like to.

If you are feeling disappointed try to find a moment to communicate this to someone at the establishment. Remember, when complaining, do it nicely and you will be more likely to get a positive result.

Keep in mind, this is NOT business as usual for many of the restaurants. Everyone who works at the restaurants is working their asses off in order for things to come off as smoothly as possible.

May everyone have many great Dine Out experiences!!!  Good luck to all staff at DOV joints!!

Not sure if it's OK to reply in this thread, given that I'm not an insider. If I'm out of line, please forgive me.

I hear you, Young One. No question that DOV pushes a FD place outside of the comfort zone. I guess my real beef with Bis was that it just didn't feel like anyone was trying very hard. The food wasn't bad, just very mediocre. The staff weren't bad, just disinterested. It seemed like everyone from the kitchen to the FOH mailed it in last night. If it looked like the staff were busting their asses, I'd be the first one to agree that we shouldn't be too hard on them. Sh*t happens, it was firt night of DOV, I can deal with that. It just didn't look like that last night.

I'm sure I'd go stir crazy cooking or serving the same three appetizers and the same three mains every night for 2 weeks. And I'm sure that dealing with the "107" tables that show up is frustrating. But that's the price a restaurant pays to participate in DOV. If a particular establishment doesn't want the hassle, or isn't willing to make the effort to make a positive impression given the circumstances, then don't participate. I don't mean that to sound as harsh as it does, honest. I guess I just believe that if you're going to do something, do it right.

This is an interesting thread, and again I apologize if I'm butting my head in where it's not welcome. Best of luck to all the insiders here. I'm looking forward to sampling the fruits of your labours over the next couple of weeks.

Edited by Vancouver Lee (log)

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Many are water tables. Regular

I am not a very good drinker (low alcohol tolerance) and I wish that I could order something besides water - any suggestions?

Also - the rest of the posting reflects the two minds that I have of DOV - I am glad that many have gotten great experiences (ie West) that will definitely mean that I am going to go and try these places. I am also glad that it is a good way for restaruants to get some additional business. The food competition in this city is cut throat - and I soooo respect anyone who is willing to stick their necks out there against the earls-cactus club-milestones gauntlet.

However - I worry about DOV because I am afraid of having a bad experience that may not actually be reflective what the restaurant is about. I am always really interested in what the chef and restaurant are trying to convey in through the dining experience. Beyond the food having to taste good (and that is defintely number one) it is always fun to see the subtext of what is going on ( I know that I sound ridiculously pretensious (sic) here :hmmm: )

Anyways - enough of the theory - I am going to dive into some DOV experiences and we will see where my pretensions take me.

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Prententious, not at all.

Go, eat, and seek out the subtext.

Take with you what you read here to analyse the restaurant from a holistic slant.

Judge everything but forgive everything as well.

If the litmus test of a restaurants worth was gleaned during a Dine Out evening, know you are not getting or giving the full story.

My insight? I am an experienced and capable fine dining server of many years' experience. I poured sweat tonight. I worked very hard and I made half of what i normally make for working half as hard.

So excuse the dine-out-can-be-frustrating spin of my last few posts.

Imagine having your pay being cut in half for a month.

So during DOV if a server can't quite seem to give you what has been hyped just remember, 9 times out of ten it's not for lack of trying. We want you to have an amazing experience.

Imagine DOV as a massive meteor shower on the upper echelons of the restaurant industry. That's how most servers (i would think) would view it: as a crashing, all-consuming, unpredictable attack from heaven. A combination of the posion and the elixir.

If you're getting bad service, don't over-analyse -- it's because a meteor has landed. It can be any negative variable: an allergy request and a pissed, impatient chef, or maybe a table of six with a language barrier, or even a choosy oenophile that sends three bottles of Brunello back. I've seen them all. Now imagine that cubed. That's Dine Out on a Saturday night.

If you get shoddy service, sorry...it's the meteor shower. :biggrin:

If you get excellent service, it's because the meteor hit somewhere else and why talk about it? Enjoy your meal instead.

I'm mighty lookin' forward to be served tomorrow rather than the other way around. It's been a long week... :hmmm:

Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Overall, i see DOV as a beneficial, valuable event. But is $25 for a three course meal really such a bargain? What is the actual quality of the meal and the overall experience? Are restaurants on top of their game when they're THAT busy?

Who benefits the most from the event?

Wow....

I guess the $25 price tag depends on the restaurant you visit. I the mains are usually priced around 25 or more, then YES, It's Such a Bargain.

As for all of the performance issues, here's my view: In the first year of DOV restaurants that weren't involved in the promotion were totally dead, with FOH staff complaining and owners worried. In 2003, the second year, many more of us were on board, and those who missed the Tourism Van deadlines did a DOV menu anyways. (I recall some posts here last year to that effect) This year, a record number. So, it's a bold move Not to be involved, especially if you're a newer establishment. Why do you think all these places are expanding it by a week or more? So, are we on top of our game? Well, we're trying. But the phone started ringing non-stop December 30, ( remember the flurry of "where are you going for dine-out" posts on egullet ) We're just trying to maximize the space because for this period we're working with much higher food and labour costs. It is a business, after all. Add to this the front staff's frustration with new diners and bad tips, the kitchen glaring at you with exhaustion and contempt at the end of their 12 hour shift, and we start to wonder if it's all worth it. Should I limit reservations and take a hit on profit, or opt out and take my chances? (or close and take a winter beach holiday?)

Who benefits most from this event? Well, the business does ok because we're busy and expose the place to some new customers. You get an $8 appetizer, $25 main course and a $7 dessert for 25 bucks. ............Bon apetit!

ps. Know any restaurant staff? Take them out to dinner after Feb 3. Excuse the hangover.

I need a place to properly vent, waiterblog?

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Classic !

This is a attempted Dine Out Reso last night.

" Hi , I would like to make a Dine Out Vancouver reservation for 20 people @ 7:00 on Saturday night. Can we get one long table ? "

I'm sorry we are all booked up. I could fit you in at 10:00 !

" You don't understand - I already told my friends I made the reservation - they are all meeting me there !

Sorry , I just don't have the space.

"What if we don't have the Dine Out menu - could you fit us in ?

I'm sorry , we are all booked up.

" What am I going to do ? It's my birthday and I told them we were having it there. I can't get hold of some of them to tell them we aren't coming.

What if we just showed up ! You would be forced to take us then !

Sorry , I just do not have the space. I have other reservations that have been booked for ages. You should have called earlier. There is nothing I can do.

"Can you take my name and numbers for the waiting list ?"

I would rather not as that would leave you with the impression that you have a chance, which you do not. I'm sorry , I have to go now.

" Can I speak to the owner ? I know him , his name is Ian " Maybe he could get me in ! "

You are, and my name is Neil and I still have no space. Sorry buddy , Goodbye.

Welcome to my world !

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Classic !

This is a attempted Dine Out Reso last night.

" Hi , I would like to make a Dine Out Vancouver reservation for 20 people @ 7:00 on Saturday night. Can we get one long table ? "

I'm sorry we are all booked up. I could fit you in at 10:00 !

" You don't understand - I already told my friends I made the reservation - they are all meeting me there !

Sorry , I just don't have the space.

"What if we don't have the Dine Out menu - could you fit us in ?

I'm sorry , we are all booked up.

" What am I going to do ? It's my birthday and I told them we were having it there. I can't get hold of some of them to tell them we aren't coming.

What if we just showed up ! You would be forced to take us then !

Sorry , I just do not have the space. I have other reservations that have been booked for ages. You should have called earlier. There is nothing I can do.

"Can you take my name and numbers for the waiting list ?"

I would rather not as that would leave you with the impression that you have a chance, which you do not. I'm sorry , I have to go now.

" Can I speak to the owner ? I know him , his name is Ian " Maybe he could get me in ! "

You are, and my name is Neil and I still have no space.  Sorry buddy , Goodbye.

Welcome to my world !

Please, please tell me you laughed hysterically at him before telling him he wasn't getting a reservation?

Priceless :laugh::laugh:

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Thanks for the chuckle Neil.

Loved the "can I speak to the owner...Ian..." reference.

I know a local restauranteur named Carmelo. His son was managing one of the family's spots. He had much the same experience with someone trying to ingratiate himself when he could not get a table by referencing that he knew Carmelo. Maurizio replied that he knew Carmelo too since he was his father.

Some people have chutzpah, not much common sense but a lot of chutzpah

I wonder if you will need to do a follow-up Saturday nite. These can be the kind of folks who then try to bluff their way into the restaurant blaming the restaurant for "losing" their reso.

Am enjoying "dining vicariously" off the DOV experiences of other posters...saving a lot of $ and calories but am sure missing out on some fun!

Maybe I'll make it out to the one they are doing in Victoria next month

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Opportunity blown, Ian...errr...Neil.

You should have put the new Mexican dishwasher that doesn't speak english on the line as "Ian". Let the comedy roll. A hungover linecook with a bad attitude would have made a good second choice in the roll of Ian.

Have to credit Neil for starting the laughter, but Keith you always have me rolling on the floor, often with tears - too fun!

I'm so glad I'm only on the dining side of DOV - thanks to all in the industry for making it happen for us !

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Classic !

This is a attempted Dine Out Reso last night.

" Hi , I would like to make a Dine Out Vancouver reservation for 20 people @ 7:00 on Saturday night. Can we get one long table ? "

I'm sorry we are all booked up. I could fit you in at 10:00 !

" You don't understand - I already told my friends I made the reservation - they are all meeting me there !

Sorry , I just don't have the space.

"What if we don't have the Dine Out menu - could you fit us in ?

I'm sorry , we are all booked up.

" What am I going to do ? It's my birthday and I told them we were having it there. I can't get hold of some of them to tell them we aren't coming.

What if we just showed up ! You would be forced to take us then !

Sorry , I just do not have the space. I have other reservations that have been booked for ages. You should have called earlier. There is nothing I can do.

"Can you take my name and numbers for the waiting list ?"

I would rather not as that would leave you with the impression that you have a chance, which you do not. I'm sorry , I have to go now.

" Can I speak to the owner ? I know him , his name is Ian " Maybe he could get me in ! "

You are, and my name is Neil and I still have no space.  Sorry buddy , Goodbye.

Welcome to my world !

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

hilarious ian err i mean neil

tt
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Last night I had my first and (hopefully last) DOV campers.

We weren't fully booked, there was no crowd in the lounge waiting for their table, so I didn't have to rush them out. No big deal. They were actually kinda nice.

Two ladies, three courses, two coffees, no wine. Bill: $55.00 Duration of stay: 6pm to 11:00pm, 5 freakin' hours, the last three and a half of which were filled by idle chit chat and two pots of free coffee. Tip? $5. :angry:

It's their right, I know. But several things are wrong with this on a manners front...and to do this during DOV should be a five minute major.

Right now, the summer couldn't come fast enough...bloom baby bloom.

Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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It's their right, I know. But several things are wrong with this on a manners front...and to do this during DOV should be a five minute major.

Andrew ... the hockey reference ... my head is spinning! It's like a glass of wine after 4 months of abstinance (not that I know about that personally :biggrin: ).

Just curious ... how old were they? Are we talking West Vancouver silver-hairs?

A.

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Last night I had my first and last DOV campers. We weren't fully booked, there was no crowd in the lounge waiting for their table, so I didn't have to rush them out. Two ladies, three courses, two coffees, no wine. Bill: $55.00 Duration of stay: 6pm to 11:00pm, 5 freakin' hours, the last three and a half of which were filled by idle chit chat and two pots of free coffee. Tip? $5.  :angry:

It's their right. But several things are wrong with this on a manners front....

Right now, the summer couldn't come fast enough...bloom baby bloom.

Oh, I feel your pain my brother. This weekend is going to be tough. Perhaps a little overbooked on Sat night.

A couple of things to remember.

I take most of the reservations.

Joan comes in on Sat. night to run the floor.

She deals with the log jam, curses my name, daggers from her eyes for taking so many tables, Neil hides in kitchen, head down, averting her stare.

I will have to have a chat with staff on how to "broom" a table after they have had three refills of hot water and lemon ( this was the cause of my log jam last Friday - 6:30 reso, told table was rebooked at 8:30, does not leave until 9:40 !)

"We are out of hot water" "I know, how can that be !. I will certainly talk to management on Monday !

"funny you mention that, we are out of lemons as well !, What? Those lemons, they are pre-booked for the later turn ! :biggrin:

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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They were shaguars (and I mean that with all the respect and non-mysoginistic sincerety I can muster to convey to a fellow industroid for immediate empathy).

No letters, please...

Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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