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Dine Out Vancouver


SBonner
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I thought that was pastrami. Corned beef and pastrami is one and the same, then, I guess?

Right you are my dear :biggrin:

Ummm ... not exactly ...

To make pastrami, you start by making corned beef. Corned beef is a beef brisket soaked in brine (with some sugar and spices). According to "The Joy of Cooking," corned beef "has nothing to do with corn but got its name...when a granular salt the size of a kernel of wheat -- corn to a Briton -- was used to process it." By smoking corned beef, you turn it into pastrami! Smoking adds flavor to the meat.

Not that I'm all that fussy when eating either! :raz:

A.

Quite frankly, I'll take either :raz: Whatever it truly is, it's really really good.

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I wanted to be specific in the title as to not have this post moved. I am refering to Dine Out Vancouver and what Tourism Vancouver and the restaurants / partners involved can do to improve the whole thing.

I do not want to get off on the wrong foot and start bashing restaurants and / or people who do not show. I want this be a discussion as to how the very popular event can be handled. I will put up a few suggestions in no particular order.

1. Limit table time to two hours MAX. How to enforce this ? A Dine Out Policy statement / contract ? I do not know but am looking for ideas. This is a two way street. Restaurants need to make sure they hold up their end as well. As the restaurants are in the hospitality sector, they do not want to be shooing the guests out ever but in the interest of offering this to as many people who want it, something needs to be done.

2. Credit card reservation system through Visa - a Tourism Van partner. Logistical nightmare but not impossible. A $20 non refundable booking fee for each reservation credited to your dinner if you show !

3. Change the dates to encompass a month. Seattle does a similar event but does not include weekends - that is left to the individual restaurant. This would allow the guest to acceess this promotion for a minimum 20 days instead of 14. The downside is the guest can't do it on weekends. The upside for the restaurant is they can do regular dining if they wish at the weekends and get full dollar if it works for them. It would have to start about the 15th of January and finish before Valentine's Day. Could it work ? Why not. Is it a win - win ? It is for me.

4. Offer salad, then an appy and then dinner. Omit dessert. This is the point when people really start to put on the brakes and hang out for a long time, oblivious to the party standing next to them for 40 minutes waiting for the table. If #1 is used, this would not be needed.

This is enough to get us started. This is a great event and everybody benefits from it. It introduces new people to a restaurant they might have never been to, it keeps lots of people working through a slow month - restaurants, wine brokers, suppliers, linen guys, delivery guys you name it.

I want to keep this positive as this event is not going away but perhaps some of the difficulties both sides encounter can be eliminated.

Neil Wyles, Chef, Carrot peeler, phone guy, everything guy,owner

Hamilton Street Grill

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Not having participated in dine out in any form (restaurant owner or patron), I only have the comments of others to rely on. When a special occasion arose in Richmond ie Mothers Day or Valentines we simply did our best not to overbook. We booked about 5 tables every half hour and in two hours we were full, the kitchen was never overwhelmed and servers had time to spend with the patrons. I recognize that the profit margin is lower in Vancouver and stress levels run higher but in the long run your reputation is all you have.

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Sean hit the nail on the head for his observations re: DOV. As a restaurant owner or manager you have to be prepared for DOV and I think many restaurants are just  not prepared for the service levels required to cover so many covers each night for a prolonged duration. I personally never go out to DOV events and would rather pay full amounts to experience  a restaurant at its best at another time of year.

Patrons who do not reserve or have the courtesy to cancel a reso are a blight on this industry. In the U.K. and Spain a credit card is charged anywhere from 10-50 Euro's for a no show. It is my understanding that in Europe you can get away with this as a reso is considered a contract between you and the restaurant.

Happy DOV

Stephen

It might be helpful to note that New York has a similar event called "Restaurant Week". Originally conceived as a two week event held in the middle of the summer, Restaurant Week is now a bi-annual event held once in the summer and once in the winter. During each two week period, participating restaurants charge $20 prix fixe lunches and $30 prix fixe dinners. It's a win-win situation, in that restaurants have the opportunity to showcase their offerings to thousands of diners who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience fine dining, and gain potential future patrons in the process.

With respect to no-shows, it is customary at certain restaurants in New York (e.g., Masa) to charge $100 to a patron's credit card if he or she is a no-show. This is becoming standard practice, especially for higher-end restaurants.

Soba

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Not having participated in dine out in any form (restaurant owner or patron), I only have the comments of others to rely on. When a special occasion arose in Richmond ie Mothers Day or Valentines we simply did our best not to overbook. We booked about 5 tables every half hour and in two hours we were full, the kitchen was never overwhelmed and servers had time to spend with the patrons. I recognize that the profit margin is lower in Vancouver and stress levels run higher but in the long run your reputation is all you have.

I just wanted to point out that is what I did. I took people at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 ( you can see the pattern here ). As a chef / owner, it is all about me ! Seriously, it was about making the whole thing as smooth as possible. If you are an avid reader ( or rabid ) of this forum, and this thread in particular, I have tried to make that clear. Where it starts to break down is the fact that people are late, no shows, and disrespect you by not vacating their table in the pre-agreed upon two hours.

To the layperson reading your post, it would seem that you have the solution to the problem. To the industry person reading your post, it is a little laughable. As we know, the problems did not arise from faulty seating times.

As we know, slamming the restaurant by a complete 6:00 seating and expecting everybody to be out by the 8:00 seating is a little unrealistic. I do not know of any restaurant that participated in DOV that did not stagger tables thoughout the evening. To not do so would be suicide. If anyone knows any different ie: restautant X only had 6:00 and 8:00 available, pipe in.

I would also like to know which restaurant participated but did not set aside any tables for the event. It was mention earlier on in the thread.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

Two hours after their reservation time, they order their first drink !

Only 350 more days to go until Dine Out 2006!

What utterly despicable manners. In our family we typically order our first drink about two hours before our reservation.

Sure, it can be a bit of a wait, sitting outside in the car like that, but then we know we'll be right on time.

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  • 9 months later...

Thought I would dust this thread off seeing as the Open Table topic has got us thinking about DOV.

I was wondering what changes the participating restaurants have implemented this time around to address some of the problems of last DOV. Neal, I see, will be offering only his DOV menu for instance.

I'm curious as to whether there was some kind of mini summit to come up with strategies like dealing with no shows.

As there was a lot of criticism of the "pack 'em in pack 'em out" style of service how many restaurants will focus on showcasing their establishments with the idea of future business vs the "pack em in cause they won' t be back in any case" scenario?

Are there any major players who will not be back this year as it was just not worth the stress?

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Are there any major players who will not be back this year as it was just not worth the stress?

I recall chatting with a chap from one of the local high end hotels and he seemed to think that they would not do it again as the cost they incurred for the dining room were just too much to feature such a low price point. Fine linens, glassware, silver service cutlery etc. It was costing them about $11.00 per seat just to outfit the table and at $35.00, the numbers did not add up.

That being said, I think this event will just become more and more popular, whether the restaurants are happy about it or not.

Those who are not involved are not getting the traffic as the dining public is feasting on a great deal.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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According to the CityFood website:

So far, a record 144 restaurants have signed up for the discount dining program and will be offering three-course prix-fixe dinners in the $15, $25 or $35 dollar range.

Cheers,

Anne

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According to the CityFood website:
So far, a record 144 restaurants have signed up for the discount dining program and will be offering three-course prix-fixe dinners in the $15, $25 or $35 dollar range.

Is that up or down from last year.

Cheers

Neil

I'm assuming "record" means it's up from last year.

k

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According to the CityFood website:
So far, a record 144 restaurants have signed up for the discount dining program and will be offering three-course prix-fixe dinners in the $15, $25 or $35 dollar range.

Is that up or down from last year.

Cheers

Neil

I'm assuming "record" means it's up from last year.

k

Sorry, missed that bit.

N

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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  • 1 month later...
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.

Yeah there needs to be more INFO in the site about maximum times or at least people need to be reminded. This brings me to OpenTable. That site is great because it has a little button called "add to outlook" and you as industry folks can control the "meeting duration" as well as add a note that people need to be curteous to others and limit dining to 90 minutes.

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.

This is a good idea but I will admit that adding an extra couple of clicks to put in my CC can be annoying when the restaurant books up so quickly. Mashing numbers at a panicked pace can be unnerving. quick quick where's the verification number...put it in!! Time's running out!

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.

The problem with this is that most people assume the restuarant is booked full and I'm not about to go there "just in case". Maybe others would?

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

Would the industry be able to handle a month of this nuttyness? I like the idea because cramming it into two weeks seems kinda nuts. I mean I'm going to be eating at 6-10 restaurants in 2 weeks. That is well above my average of like 1-2 per week.

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.

I like choice, removing choice removes interested parties. I was going to go to LIFT but they had no choices on their menu making it hard since I liked what they offered and my other didn't.

Ok one more question: What happens if someone calls in December to reserve a table during the dineout period? Then on that day they come in and go "oh! we'll go for the dineout!"

Also does anyone know how OpenTable works with dineout bookings? Do you guys set a time when it is open for reservations? I was really put off when I found that Lumiers was booked full by 10am the day of the first bookings and I have a sneaking suspicion the OpenTable was taking reso's as 12:01am that previous night.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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With some of my previous experiences and the points brought up in this forum, I was a little bit leary, as a consumer, to participate in this year's Dine Out Vancouver, for fear of substandard service. I decided to do it anyway, and picked Parkside because I have had phenomenally gracious service there in my one previous visit, and figured they would be too professional and nice to let Dine Out Vancouver muck up the beautiful atmosphere they normally achieve. I'm crossing my fingers. I'm not really talking about small pacing issues or simple mistakes - I'm very forgiving when I can see a restaurant is busy. I just wanted to be treated nicely, and expect the same sort of politeness and hospitality that one would give anybody because they are a human being in civilized society (irregardless of whatever assumptions my server is making about who I am), and not be pigeonholed into the cheapy diner category because I'm ordering off the dine-out menu instead of the regular one. I called to make my reservation, and had to leave a message, and received a message in return to confirm. But included in that was a very pointed remark about a 1.5 hour (not two hour) seating time. Am I being pigeon holed already as a guest who will overstay? I'm tempted to cancel now not because of the time limit itself but simply the tone of voice of the remark. I haven't decided yet. In general, I just don't think it's worth tarnishing your restaurant's image to participate in this event unless you can pull it off graciously. Food for thought.

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I called to make my reservation, and had to leave a message, and received a message in return to confirm.  But included in that was a very pointed remark about a 1.5 hour (not two hour) seating time.  Am I being pigeon holed already as a guest who will overstay?  I'm tempted to cancel now not because of the time limit itself but simply the tone of voice of the remark.  I haven't decided yet.  In general, I just don't think it's worth tarnishing your restaurant's image to participate in this event unless you can pull it off graciously.  Food for thought.

I'm not sure I understand...are you saying that reminding a potential customer that, during this event, there is a limited seating time is ungracious and/or potentially insulting? And can tarnish a restaurant's image?

I don't see what the problem is. From the management point of view, limited seating times are necessary to ensure the smooth flow of the evening for all customers. Fact is, many customers do overstay--sometimes because they're just assholes, but sometimes because they are unaware that tables are booked for limited periods of time. The reminder was most likely given to all those who made reservations for DOV, not solely to you, and it was probably just that--a simple reminder. Think of it as a public service announcement--many people already know the information and think it's common sense, but others needed to be reminded every now and again.

If the problem was specifically with the tone of the person who left the message, it is also important to keep in mind that was is businesslike to some, may come across as being rude to others. He (or she) may have thought his tone and message were simple and straight to the point, whereas you interpreted them as being rude and abrupt. Personally, I can't stand it when people hedge--I find it annoying and a waste of time (that's not to say I don't hedge when necessary), and it can even be obsequious at times.

Regardless, I think it's better to give the caller the benefit of the doubt--he wasn't trying to pigeonhole anyone, but was trying to make the evening work for everyone involved. And, well, if you decide to cancel your reservation, let us know when it was for, so someone else can grab it. :biggrin::blink:

edited to make my pronouns agree.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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The cap on seating times is pretty standard for many DOV restaurants, especially on Fridays/Saturdays, so over the years I've learned that it's best to go with as late a seating as your stomach and your dining companions will let you get away with. I find the allotted seating times reasonably generous, but occasionally you want to stay for coffee/port/more dessert etc...

When I left a message for Parkside, I asked for an 8-ish seating and Michel called back to say he put me down for 8:30 - final seating of the night - so we could stay and relax. We ended up having a nice long chat over the phone about some of the customer service atrocities he's seen during DOV (the two-tops of tap water ten-percent tippers).

When it comes down to it, I'd rather have the restaurant mention the seating caps to all who call and make a reservation so that the people who wouldn't have a clue otherwise (and believe me, DOV attracts them like trailer parks attract tornadoes) know what the protocol is. That way, when DOV actually arrives and you're enjoying your meal, the staff is in a good mood because nobody's camping and the evening is going relatively smoothy. Happy staff = good service, whether it be DOV or any other night.

Jenn

"She's not that kind of a girl, Booger!"

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The cap on seating times is pretty standard for many DOV restaurants, especially on Fridays/Saturdays, so over the years I've learned that it's best to go with as late a seating as your stomach and your dining companions will let you get away with. I find the allotted seating times reasonably generous, but occasionally you want to stay for coffee/port/more dessert etc...

When I left a message for Parkside, I asked for an 8-ish seating and Michel called back to say he put me down for 8:30 - final seating of the night - so we could stay and relax. We ended up having a nice long chat over the phone about some of the customer service atrocities he's seen during DOV (the two-tops of tap water ten-percent tippers).

When it comes down to it, I'd rather have the restaurant mention the seating caps to all who call and make a reservation so that the people who wouldn't have a clue otherwise (and believe me, DOV attracts them like trailer parks attract tornadoes) know what the protocol is. That way, when DOV actually arrives and you're enjoying your meal, the staff is in a good mood because nobody's camping and the evening is going relatively smoothy. Happy staff = good service, whether it be DOV or any other night.

Ouch! To be honest, isn't that what DOV is about, trying to attract potential new customers, that may not know about other cuisines options than BK and IHOP? Or is it just about trying to fill the coffers for management during the harsh after winter holiday season? I agree that the site should explain some of the niggly details such as time limits and tipping protocol for the uninformed bumpkins that might want to try some of the new places, after all, did we all come out of the womb as sophisticated diners, proficient in all areas including libation choices, tip requirements and time limits? Probably not.

Tap water or alcohol? Does DUI or M.A.D.D. ring a bell? Not everyone can afford a taxi from their home in the burbs. Or can drink booze, due to health, work, or whatever issues.

staff is in a good mood because nobody's camping and the evening is going relatively smoothy. Happy staff = good service, whether it be DOV or any other night.

Perhaps, since the establishment is obviously trying to increase their year round business, they should take the onus off of possible new customers ordering extra and tipping above and beyond what they may think is the norm, and possibly overstaying their welcome. Compensate the employees extra accordingly to the increased pressure during DOV and future business potential.

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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Ouch!  To be honest, isn't that what DOV is about, trying to attract potential new customers, that may not know about other cuisines options than BK and IHOP? 

I thought this was what it was about myself. Getting people to try new things and giving new diners (one's who really think that going out to eat is a novel idea) an opportunity to take that plunge at high end places where normally they wouldn't. The result? You open some eyes, you show new diners how amazing food can be and that it isn't just about sustenance. It's about the love affair with food and sharing that love affair with others who havn't discovered it.

Tap water or alcohol?  Does DUI or M.A.D.D. ring a bell?  Not everyone can afford a taxi from their home in the burbs.  Or can drink booze, due to health, work, or whatever issues. 

Amen.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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The cap on seating times is pretty standard for many DOV restaurants, especially on Fridays/Saturdays, so over the years I've learned that it's best to go with as late a seating as your stomach and your dining companions will let you get away with. I find the allotted seating times reasonably generous, but occasionally you want to stay for coffee/port/more dessert etc...

When I left a message for Parkside, I asked for an 8-ish seating and Michel called back to say he put me down for 8:30 - final seating of the night - so we could stay and relax. We ended up having a nice long chat over the phone about some of the customer service atrocities he's seen during DOV (the two-tops of tap water ten-percent tippers).

When it comes down to it, I'd rather have the restaurant mention the seating caps to all who call and make a reservation so that the people who wouldn't have a clue otherwise (and believe me, DOV attracts them like trailer parks attract tornadoes) know what the protocol is. That way, when DOV actually arrives and you're enjoying your meal, the staff is in a good mood because nobody's camping and the evening is going relatively smoothy. Happy staff = good service, whether it be DOV or any other night.

I tried to be clear in my original message by saying it wasn't the cap itself, (and it's not even the mentioning of the cap), but people seem not have gotten my point. I am talking about the tone of voice. I work customer service myself, and there's always a nice way to say something, and a less than nice way, and a horrible snarky way (which we keep in our heads, and possibly tell to a co-worker later to vent). To the customer, whether Dine Out is a huge fricken pain in the ass to the staff or not, you should use the nice way. He wasn't horrible on the phone, and I do appreciate being up front with the time cap, and agree that's what must be done. My post was all about style. Again, to be clear, I said I hadn't decided yet, so it wasn't really that bad, which would make the decision clear. It was borderline. And yes, of course, I have the good manners to call as soon as possible if I'm cancelling, so someone else can grab the reservation. When the previous person who replied to my post said "Let us know" does that mean you are from Parkside, btw? The post was not intended as a slag, it was intended to improve the event by getting people to think about the way they approach the warnings when dealing with customers.

The title of the thread was "How do we improve it" and I realize there are a lot of issues to address to improve it for the restaurant, but there's also ways it can improve for the customer, making for a successful event. Just making the point that if I'm sensing a bit of attitude, whether it's founded or not, I just wanted to let everyone put themselves in the shoes of more typical customers - those who aren't so into the dining scene and might not have experienced the restaurant before, how they might experience Dine Out and assume any snarkiness is the norm for a given place. Just trying to help, folks. Best wishes with the event.

Nancy

PS. To end this post on a more positive note, which is a much more enjoyable thing, kudos again to Leonard of Nu for his style in customer service recovery in another thread. He always seems to be going above and beyond.

PPS. Yup, I originally asked for an 8 pm reservation. Post edited cuz I kept forgetting to answer this question. :)

Edited by Dumpling Girl (log)
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Last night I met with Leonard from "C", Andre from Lumiere, and Quentin from Chambar.

It seems I may have agreed to suit up as a waiter at each restaurant during Dine Out Vancouver. Should be interesting. :huh:

Edited by Andrew Morrison (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Last night I met with Leonard from "C", Andre from Lumiere, and Quentin from Chambar.

It seems I may have agreed to suit up as a waiter at each restaurant during Dine Out Vancouver. Should be interesting. :huh:

I thought we were trying to IMPROVE DOV Andrew! :raz:

[ducks and runs for cover]

Sometime after last year's DOV, I asked Leonard (C & Nu) if he dreaded the event as much as I would if I were in his shoes. To paraphrase his reply, he said he loved the event and while it was a lot of work, it was the type of thing that gave definition to what he did in the restaurant industry. There are always going to be difficult guests, and those that will abuse the true intent of DOV. But the majority of guests have a great time, and a lot of restaurants put a lot of butts in seats that would otherwise be empty this time of year.

Improve DOV? Make sure the frickin' web site doesn't crash next year!

A.

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  • 1 month later...

Now that Dine Out Vancouver 2006 has concluded, I'm interested to hear evaluations of the event, in particular from restaurateurs, cooks, and servers. Was the event a success for you? What worked and what didn't? Which screws need to be tightened for next year? And, most importantly, is the event achieving what it was designed to do--put more local bums in seats and build the rolls of regulars that restaurants depend on night after night?

DOV '06, for the Lumière tasting bar, was certainly the most popular year to date. The demand was overwhelming; during the first week of taking reservations, we received several hundred calls each day. Faxed and e-mailed reso requests, when printed out, made a stack of paper a couple inches think. Every available seat had been filled before the hostess could make the first call-back.

The numbers were good too; doing three full turns and Friday night volume on every weeknight is good for the restaurant's bottom line.

Yes, serving the Dine Out crowd can be a trying time for waiters (see this thread for details; I won't belabor the point here). Part of the problem is with the sales pitch. The "eat for cheap" advertising that Tourism Vancouver has favored to promote the event tends to bring out the coupon-clippers; the sort of customers who are more interested in saving than savoring. If the focus was shifted to emphasize the dining experience more and the "save ten bucks" aspect less, I think we'd draw a more inspiring crowd. (At least we might sell a few more drinks.) That said, for the servers I spoke to, Friday night volume meant Friday night tips, even on Sundays and Tuesdays. So we were happy, if a little uninspired and numbed by the monotony.

Sure, DOV is a cash cow, and a good short-term boost for the restaurant, it's employees, and it's suppliers. It does a great job of filling seats during the slowest part of the year. But what about the long-term goals of the event? How successful is DOV at converting those price-conscious neophytes into regular customers? In my experience, judging from the number of DOV faces I see back throughout the rest of the year (and the number of "see you next year" comments I hear), it's a complete failure. I guess a good question is, given that the event is so successful as a one-time gain, does it even matter?

Edited by chrisstearns (log)
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For a different perspective, I avoid eating out altogether during DOV. The crowds, reservation hassles, limited menus, fixed seating times, etc. don't do it for me. I'm not trying to be snobby here, I guess I am a different kind of customer, more limited by availability (busy job + kid = no life) than budget or other considerations. I will resume my restaurant visits after DOV so there is no love lost. My usual dining partners are of the same conviction.

I understand the appeal of it, but there are people out there that don't care about DOV one way or the other.

Stefan Posthuma

Beer - Chocolate - Cheese

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