Just after KRLD Restaurant Week ended in early September, I put our patient and persistent intern, Taylor Walker, on a project. Taylor contacted every one of the 131 restaurants that participated in the program this year and asked them to complete a brief survey. Thanks to Taylor and the 125 restaurants who took the time to contribute their thoughts.
Some of the results surprised me. During August, when the event was taking place, I heard a lot of negative chatter from the restaurant industry. I thought responses would reflect “Restaurant Week fatigue.” However, 118 out of 125 (94%) restaurants claimed they would do it all over again next year. This year, 51% of the restaurants served their RW menu for 3 weeks (up from 38% in 2009). According to our survey, 82% of participating restaurants reported an increase in business during August, but only 39% cleared a profit.
We also asked for “on-the-record” and “off-the-record” comments which are printed below the whole survey.
Jump for the full report.
KRLD Restaurant Week Participant Survey
Number of restaurants polled: 125 out of 131
Number of restaurants that declined to provide answers: 5*
(*Note: The Vault closed on August 1, and thus couldn’t be contacted to answer our survey.)
1. How many weeks did you participate in last year’s (2009) KRLD’s Restaurant Week?
a) One – 25 restaurants answered one week.
b) Two – 25 restaurants answered two weeks. Three of these restaurants specifically said they did two plus preview weekend.
c) Three – 47 restaurants answered three weeks. Twelve of these restaurants specifically said they three weeks plus preview weekend.
d) Didn’t participate last year – 24 restaurants didn’t participate last year.
e) Didn’t know the answer – 1 restaurant couldn’t figure out how long they had participated last year.
2. How many weeks did you participate in this year’s 2010 KRLD Restaurant Week?
a) One – 27 restaurants answered one week. Two of these restaurants specifically said they did one week plus preview weekend.
b) Two – 31 restaurants answered two weeks. Two of these restaurants specifically said they did two weeks plus preview weekend.
c) Three – 64 (51%) restaurants answered three weeks. Sixteen of these restaurants specifically said they did three weeks plus preview weekend.
3. Did your restaurant participate in the first two weeks of KRLD Restaurant Week in 2009? If so, how did this year compare to last year?
a) This year was better – 47 restaurants said this year was better.
b) This year was about the same – 33 restaurants said this year was about the same.
c) This year was below last year – 16 restaurants said this year was below last year.
e) Didn’t participate last year — 24 restaurants didn’t participate last year.
f) Didn’t know yet. – 1 restaurant said they didn’t know this information yet.
g) Wouldn’t answer the question – 1 restaurant wouldn’t answer this question.
4. Based on your restaurant’s experience with this year’s 2010 KRLD Restaurant Week, how likely are you to participate again next year?
a) Yes, definitely will participate – 118 restaurants said they would participate again next year.
b) Not sure – 3 restaurant said they were not sure. Two of these specifically said they didn’t know yet.
c) No, will not participate – 1 restaurant said they would not participate again.
5. The answer to this question will not be attributed directly to the name of your restaurant. It will be combined with other participant’s answers. Does your restaurant:
a) Make a profit during KRLD Restaurant Week — 49 restaurants said they make a profit during Restaurant Week. Seven of these restaurants specifically said that they profit, but at a lesser rate.
b) Income remains about the same – 33 restaurants said that the income from customers remains about the same.
c) Loses money by participating in Restaurant Week – 7 restaurants said they lose money by participating.
d) Even – 4 restaurants would only say that they broke even.
e) Didn’t know the answer/wouldn’t provide an answer – 29 restaurants claimed they didn’t know the answer or declined to answer this question.
6. The fact that Restaurant Week occurs in August:
a) Increases your business – 102 restaurants said the fact that Restaurant Week occurs in August increases their business.
b) Has very little to do with your volume of business – 13 restaurants said that the month has little to do with the volume of their business.
c) Decreases your business – 2 restaurants said that the month decreased their business.
d) Didn’t know the answer – 4 restaurants didn’t know the answer to this question because they couldn’t compare it to anything (new restaurants) or because they simply didn’t know the answer.
e) Wouldn’t answer – 1 restaurant refused to answer this question.
7. Do you feel customers who participate in KRLD Restaurant Week are:
a) Likely to return after KRLD Restaurant Week — 87 restaurants said customers are likely to return after KRLD Restaurant Week.
b) Not sure what they will do — 21 restaurants said they weren’t sure what customers would do.
c) Not likely to return after KRLD Restaurant Week – 13 restaurants said customers would not likely return again after KRLD Restaurant Week.
d) Wouldn’t answer – 1 restaurant wouldn’t answer this question.
8. Any comments you’d like to add on or off the record?
ON THE RECORD
Ama Lur said that it’s a great program and that they’d have nothing negative to say about it. They also believe that more restaurants should participate.
Al Biernat’s. “Our biggest problem is that most people don’t know it’s a charity event.”
Arcodoro and Pomodoro. “People are coming in and we are putting food on their tables, but also helping feed the people without food on their tables. It makes the most sense that a restaurant take part in a charity like this with a food bank.”
Bailey’s Prime Plus Park Lane said that they didn’t think that three weeks were necessary.
Cacharel. “That way it is handled is fantastic. I’m real happy with the program. I have nothing negative to say about it.”
Chamberlain’s Fish Market. “We feel like it’s a win, win, win situation. Helps the charity, feeds customers and helps the restaurant.”
Charlie Palmer at the Joule said that it doesn’t make sense to lump the higher bistros together with the lower restaurants. They’ve been fighting that for years.
Dish said that the second and third week lacks marketing. They said that there’s a big push for the first week and lots of people trying to get in, but no one realizes that it continues on for another two weeks. They also said that a lot of food gets wasted because the restaurants are preparing for the latter two weeks as much as they were for the first week, but the people aren’t there to consume it.
Hannah’s off the Square in Denton agrees that there were promotion problems.
Palette Le Meridien Dallas North reiterated the promotion problems. They said, “I felt the promotion was there in certain regards, but as far as other places, there could have been more promotion.” They went on to say that they didn’t feel that someone visiting Dallas would have gotten the information as well as they should have.
OFF THE RECORD
One participate said, “Restaurant Week is broken. People don’t want to do it, but they feel they have to participate. The intent of Restaurant Week is great. At some point, the people who put this together need to go back and look at the model of it and see how they can fix it.”
Another said that the only thing that was a little frustrating is that people forget it’s for charity. They said no shows are a big problem and that for every person that doesn’t show that’s $7 that doesn’t go to the charities.
An upscale restaurant admitted that Restaurant Week played a big part in helping them make their numbers because the summer months have been slow.
A hotel restaurant said they wanted more promotions during the second week.
Several restaurants, said they’d prefer KRLD Restaurant Week in a different month.
One well-known spot in Uptown said that a lot of people complain that they aren’t getting the menu items they expected from other restaurants, but it’s impossible to make some of those expensive items for the cheap limit. They said they think it would behoove everyone to remember that this is for charity and to keep that in mind.