Restaurants Find Substantial Profit in Closing
In a trend that appears to have started in New York, but is catching on across the country, popular eateries that have lost some of their panache to newer places have found it highly effective and profitable to close with fanfare. Well-known establishments like WD-50 and ‘inoteca have shut down, but not before offering patrons one last meal.
Some eateries are offering discounts in the closing days, but most are charging extra for that last opportunity. WD-50 booked reservations for its “Last Call Dinner” on November 29, 2014, selling out almost immediately at $275 per person. The restaurant sold over $100,000 worth of tickets in less than 10 minutes. Chef Wylie Dufresne also offered a special 11 course meal during November, charging diners $225 each.
Many believe the trend may have started back in 2010, when Chef Ferran Adria announced that he would be closing his famous Spanish restaurant ElBulli in 2012. On his final day of operation, he brought in restaurant critics and famous patrons for a 47 course meal. Restaurants in Los Angeles and Chicago have also employed the same strategy.
Experts say closing a restaurant with fanfare is unusual, but works for many in today’s market, where restaurants don’t succumb to bad food or service, but simply changing demographics. Studies show a 20% reduction in dining out in the aftermath of the 2009 recession. In addition, as real estate costs rise, many restaurants, which often operate on small margins, can’t take on the additional financial burden.
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