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Dine Out Vancouver


SBonner
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As to the two hour limit, the question is how to enforce it.

<SNIP>

I know this is like preaching to the choir as the people who post and read here are aware of all of these things. Ideas people, we needs ideas !

Is it a big enough "problem" that you need something besides a friendly reminder at the time the reservation is taken, and when the party is seated?

I'd pay to see ejector seats!!

A.

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As to the two hour limit, the question is how to enforce it.

<SNIP>

I know this is like preaching to the choir as the people who post and read here are aware of all of these things. Ideas people, we needs ideas !

Is it a big enough "problem" that you need something besides a friendly reminder at the time the reservation is taken, and when the party is seated?

I'd pay to see ejector seats!!

A.

Have you read none of the post re: Dine Out ?

Major problem !

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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We could round up all those involved and shout them .

:biggrin:

I shout at them every night - to no avail.

Now, shoot one - everybody would certainly be one their toes after that - nothing serious, just a flesh wound, no need to be over the top :biggrin:

Neil,

I was at a busy dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong many years ago and the way they got lingering customers moving was to have the group of people for the next seating wait by the table and make the lingerers feel really really uncomfortable.

When we go for our DOV at HSG this Thursday, shall we try that for you?

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Neil, as to the 15% autograt and it enticing second-string waitrons to slack...I totally agree. My suggestion was borne of self-indulgent, thin walleted frustration with January.

My reasoning of late has excluded the fact that without DOV we'd be a hell of a lot more worse off.

So come on down, 10 percenters! Have I gotta deal for you! :sad:

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Here are some suggestions:

1. DOV can be limited to 90 minutes from start to finish. That can be mentioned in in the advertising and promotions leading up to the event. This could be problematic for resto to get the timing right, server/waiter to kitchen and back....etc. But this way, can turn the tables over faster.

2. Non-refundable amount of $10 per person could be charged and/or applied to the total amount of the bill to the party that shows up and for the no shows, the amount goes to the restaurant.

As an aside why not hold the table for 15 minutes and/if the party does not show, the table goes to the walk-in customers.

3. DOV extended for one month and valid only for the weekdays( Mondays to Thursdays) and regular menu for Fridays and weekends.

4. How about a set tasting menu- no choice(restos discretion)- one vegetarian and one meat/fish/chicken entree, with appy/salad and/or dessert.

This is all for now, I may add more ....

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So come on down, 10 percenters! Have I gotta deal for you!  :sad:

Where exactly do you want all those 10 percenters to come down to? :wink:

sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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So.... after reading all of our collective comments in various DOV threads, I wonder..... is it worth it? If a restaurant can not reasonably (and who can, really?) handle the madness that is DOV and put on a face that is worthy of their normal fare, and diners have unrealistic expecations, then what's the point?

On the one hand, you have restaurants that are happy to be filled in two of the deadest weeks of the year. But on the other hand, you have patrons who have been reading the hype about different places and have expections set high.

This really is not a formula for success I don't think and I'd say that our various postings have proven that to be true.

Of course there are exceptions. But what about the places that get slammed and can't make it work. The fallout from that can't be so good.

Maybe it's better than I think, but I just can't get past this classic recipe for disaster: high expectations from the patrons vs. the insane madhouse atmosphere for the restaurants... how can that, ultimately, be a positive thing for all?

Edited by appreciator (log)

sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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It certainly has been interesting reading the boards over the last couple of weeks as restaurants and diners collide in the Dine Out event.

I will speak for myself and say that this Dine Out has been a bit overwhelming.

We had a great year last year and did some projections based off of those numbers. I took into account that there are quite a few more restaurants in town jumping on the experience and new restaurants open that will dilute the overall effect. I took into account that some restaurants are offering $25 and others $35 menues. I based a bit of growth in my restaurant on the $25 price point that would be countered with the growiing number of venues. I think the event jumped up about 40 more restaurants this year ( perhaps someone from Tourism Vancouver can confirm there numbers - you have my e-mail and I know you are watching ! ) I imagined that our numbers would stay flat, year on year.

Was I wrong !

By the time Thursday rolls around, we will be up over last year between 60 and 65 %. How do you plan for that ? No warning ! Too late to hire anymore people ( even if you did, they would just be banging into things ! ) ! Can't rent another walk in cooler ! All you can do is batten down the hatches and ride out the storm ! What to do ? Stop taking reservations ? We did ! And people still show up !

People who have reservations up their numbers on the day of !

Don't get me wrong. This is a great problem to have in the early months of the year. The downside is that sometimes restaurants have under delivered. It is not a unique problem to just the restaurant industry. Shit happens, large orders for widgets come in and the order has to be filled, whatever business you are in, shit happens and you get overwhelmed. Imagine you are working the jewelery counter at a large department store and you wake up in some alternate universe where everyday is Christmas Eve and thousands of crazed husbands are begging for your help in getting the right gift for their wives ! Hey, don't cry for me, but that is just a glimpse into my own personal "Twilight Zone"

Some places have been able to handle it better than others( David Hawkworth - the new gold standard ! ) , but believe me, everyone is trying, but just worn down to the nub, exhausted to the very inner core of their being. No one sets out to dissappoint. People in this industry love what they do and are very passionate about it - we see it on this board everyday.

My staff are baffled as to how I can keep working 16 to 20 hour days again and again ( today being a little slower than others and having a couple more staff one so I can post on egullet ! ). You just have to. You have no choice. It will be over soon. And then we can get back to our normal, everyday business. I realize that there are many dining options in this town and why should someone spend money at a place that has not lived up to expectations - hey, everyone works hard for their money - I totally respect that. I have seen a couple a negative experiences on the boards in the last couple of days. I for one can't wait for things to get back to normal ( although my bank account loves double the action ), a regular steady pace in which those who love what they do can exceed your expectations and make your dining experience a glowing and positive one. Nobody opens a restaurant to underwhelm and dissapoint. If that was our goal, we would have been politicians. I am glad everybody has had a good time getting out and trying places they might not normally have and eaten things they might not normally have eaten. As serious foodies, we have to take the whole Dine Out with a grain of salt ( sea salt, fleur de sel ? ), glean from the all the posts and boards what we can and let everyone get back to normal. I for one look forward to seeing my kids again !

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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My staff are baffled as to how I can keep working 16 to 20 hour days again and again

Sheesh, I do a six hour shift and my feet feel like they've walked from here to the moon.

But 16 to 20?! I feel for you Neil.

It's great that you're up 60-65%! Your numbers for Jan. must be closing in on a summer month!

(My mom just called and said "we don't talk about money, dear.") :rolleyes:

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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My staff are baffled as to how I can keep working 16 to 20 hour days again and again

Sheesh, I do a six hour shift and my feet feel like they've walked from here to the moon.

But 16 to 20?! I feel for you Neil.

It's great that you're up 60-65%! Your numbers for Jan. must be closing in on a summer month!

(My mom just called and said "we don't talk about money, dear.") :rolleyes:

Yes, Andrew , we do not normally talk about it but as it is a major part of the relationship between all involved, it is no secret. We all know what we paid for our meal and we all know you see a $2.50 tip per head ( at 10 % - math being my strong point ! ) :biggrin:

My numbers for January are a couple of bucks off of December ! Again, how do you plan for that !

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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I may gripe, but I'm also relating what I hear from other waitrons. You don't often see a lot of 10% tips, even during DOV. But when they come, they are a shocker. If you see us doing 10 different things in the span of one minute, you know we are slammed. Lots of people, especailly regular diners, tend to tip better because even though they're not getting the kind of attention they're generally accustomed to, they understand the significance of you sprinting.

Others, not so much. :smile: Enter the 10%

Future post: "I took my Mom to the HSG tonight for dinner..."

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Let me respond as a consumer with no industry ties. A few random thoughts in no particular order:

I have no objection whatsoever to giving my c.c. number to confirm a reservation. Be it a deposit of $20 or whatever, I know restauranteurs are in a tough business and can't let tables sit empty. No shows should pay (and not just during DOV).

DOV is a victim of its own success. The trendy restaurants that would have good business anyway, get swamped. One in particular, as far as I can tell, had no tables set aside for DOV, despite purporting to participate.

On the other hand, the struggling places don't seem to attract the crowds they need to promote themselves. As an example, in the past 2 weeks I've wandered by a couple of what I know are very good restaurants participating in DOV that have been empty.

How about auctioning off tables at the popular spots, with the extra proceeds going to charity.

What about customers "buying credits" from Tourism Vancouver. When they book the table, the credits are immediately deducted whether they show up for dinner or not.

Maybe push the hotel/dinner idea a bit more. I live downtown, so wouldn't take advantage, but some better promotion of the idea of staying in a hotel would draw in more people from the suburbs. Tourism Vancouver advertises it on their website, but otherwise it's not widely known. Some killer room rates tied to cheap eats at the places that really need bums in the seats might benefit everyone.

Better linking of the VQA wines to DOV might pay off. Instead of just passively offering them, how about making it a fixed part of the menu. Part of DOV is to get people to try VQA wines. Some stubborn people just won't go for B.C. wines unless they have their arms twisted. Make it a $50 dinner with VQA wine included. (Hmmm - what to do with non-drinkers? Haven't solved that yet.)

For restauranteurs -- don't think you need to give away the candy store. I don't think you need to do a $50 dinner for $25. Most people I know are just looking for a fair break after the Christmas bills. (Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe the world is full of cheapskates.) As an example, Feenie's $25 menu is pretty much identical to their usual $35 prix fixe menu. That's more than fair. All I'm really hoping for from DOV is a few buck break in places I might not otherwise get around to trying. A little break on the food prices or a little lower markup on a decent VQA wine is enough to get me back another time - as long as the quality of the food and service remain high.

Don't be shy about warning people in advance that they'll only have the table X minutes. If they know they're getting a break, and have been told in advance $35 does not include squatting rights, it should be less of a hassle for staff to nudge them along. However, if you choose not to warn the diners, and they come in unaware that you're expecting them to clear out in time for the next reservation, you're putting your staff in a tough spot and setting the stage for disgruntled customers. Tell us right up front "We have another reservation for your table at 8:00". There will still be goofs, but I think most people will try cooperate.

Just some Aberlour Single Malt-fueled thoughts...

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Since this is my first DOV with eGullet, I wonder if it was like this before? part of people's issues might be that "oh, so-and-so went to Restaurant X and they had a great great time, and then we went and it sucked." Whereas if you just went in blind or having spoken to a few "real-world" friends (vs. the sort of critique we tend to have on here), you might not have such high expectations?

Or it may just be Chef Hawksworth's fault for providing that outstanding experience at the outset, against which most others must fail. :hmmm: Not that I'm complaining!! I seem to have been lucky with my DOVs!

Two more meals to go, then I'm going on a diet!

Edited by *Deborah* (log)

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Since this is my first DOV with eGullet, I wonder if it was like this before?

You can do a search to find the old posts on DOV ... and yes, the experiences were pretty much the same. High expectations. People disappointed. People thrilled. Kinda like life.

One major difference stood out between this year's posts and last year's posts. This year there are a LOT more industry people posting. Neil, Sean, Andrew, Winegeek and many others have given us an insight into the "biz" as well as DOV that we mere mortals may not otherwise have seen.

I, for one, am grateful.

eGullet make it so easy for us to spout off without even thinking of the consequences. If we rant to a friend, they can agree or disagree, but essentially nobody is affected. If we rant here we often forget that hundreds, even thousands of people can read ... and agree or disagree ... and post a reply. Remember, there are real people, businesses and careers attached to those avatars.

I am not saying that we should not post when we were disappointed with a meal, or the service sucked, or the wine list was overpriced. Those opinions are as important as those that praise an establishment. Neil put it best when he said that differing opinions are what make the threads interesting ... that things would be pretty boring if we all agreed.

What I am saying is there is a responsibility on both sides to both read and understand what these posts mean. Simply posting that a meal sucked is IMO irresponsible. Telling us why gives us feedback and is something that both consumers and industry can use. Conversely, industry types saying DOV customers suck without an explanation is equally as irresponsible.

The majority of posts I have read during DOV have been excellent. Insightful? Yes. Honest? Yes. Brutal? Perhaps. Unfair? Sometimes. I think its important to read the post with a few things in mind. First, I don't think most diners discuss their meals ad nauseum the way eGullters do. Second, sarcasm and other subtle forms of humour do not translate well on-line ... smilies or no smilies. Finally, remember which opinion really matters. I mean, how well do we know each other? I would hope that we take every post with a grain of salt and remember it's just another opinion.

I am really glad we have added "DOV Experience" as a description to each of the restaurant threads during this event. It identifies these experiences were not the norm. But they have been a learning experience, I believe for both sides of the equation. I for one have learned not to order hot water and lemon, and not to be surprised if I am "encouraged" to vacate my table after 2 hours. I think industry people have learned (or already knew) that not all diners are potential 107's.

Group hug?

A.

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I shout at them every night - to no avail.

Now, shoot one - everybody would certainly be one their toes after that - nothing serious, just a flesh wound, no need to be over the top :biggrin:

How about a sponsored issue of cattle prods to every DOV restaurant? I'm sure there's a niche market in there somewhere ...

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