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Good Business. Bad Economy.

March 16, 2010

Do This Or Die

In this time of corporate layoffs and financial awareness, many executives are tightening their wallets in regards to schmoozing their clients — among other things. Kate Bonamici Flaim, a Fortune Magazine contributing writer says, “Let’s face it: The days of the $150 expense-account lunch are over.” Well, I bet that sucks for America’s top-notch restaurants, but the really smart elite are doing something about it. Once upon a time, these restaurants would have used only the very best ingredients to concoct a delicacy of greens; nowadays, that’s not so much the case. This doesn’t mean that the aforementioned restaurants are slacking or even robbing the customer (more than they were before), but many of them are starting to use common quality ingredients with a couple of premiums: like a spring mix and veggies supplied by your average foodservice provider with top-of-the-line cheeses and homemade dressings as accents in lieu of salads with Florette Baby Leaf green mix with caviar and truffles to say the least.

Some restaurants, like Vadalia in Washington D.C., have changed their lunch menus to represent smaller portions of their regular offerings. It’s like marketing strategy and the bottom-line married to produce the most economically savvy menu. “We’re doing this to showcase what we do here at night,” says Vadalia chef, R.J. Cooper. I mention ‘marketing strategy’ because with this menu, Vadalia wets the appetite of their patrons during lunch only to lure them back in for a larger, more expensive plate.

Updated menu items that were intended to help restaurants “get over the hump” have now become noticeable staples — and it’s not just the expensive restaurants. McDonald’s modified its Double Cheeseburger that was once on the Dollar Menu, now $1.19, by removing a slice of cheese to create the McDouble. McDonald’s marketing executive, Greg Watson said in a Chicago Tribune interview:

Our customers tell us that value is important. And we are listening. The recommendation to add McDouble to our popular Dollar Menu reflects that we’re not only listening — but we’re responding — by providing our customers even more choices, with the everyday affordability our customers expect. We want our customers to know they can depend on McDonald’s to provide the everyday value and convenience they’ve come to expect, every time they visit our restaurants. These recommended changes will ensure we continue to satisfy our customers’ tastes and wallets.

Watson and Cooper get it! Restaurants have to adapt to the economy because their customer have to. Otherwise, the smaller, single unit restaurants wouldn’t make it.

On a side note, does a slice of cheese really cost $0.19? Although the McDouble is cheaper, my wife still enjoys the Double Cheeseburger. She likes to separate the sandwich into two equal parts; the bun, a burger patty, and a slice of cheese. She’s really cute when she eats.

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