Today: Who said there’s no free lunch?

 > The Situation:
Our intrepid webmaster/programmer, Stephen Young, sent me a recent copy of thestar.com (the online edition of the Toronto Star), headlining the story of a Montreal restaurant that is pulling out all the stops in an effort to survive the recession. Their current promotion: Free lunch (or “whatever you want to pay”). Read on.

 > The Idea:
George Pappas, owner of the upscale Taverne Crescent, told reporters that business has fallen so steeply—mainly due to the drop in American visitors to the city—plus the plunge in business dining—that he is prepared to do whatever it takes to survive. In this case, whatever it takes means serving customers a fabulous lunch…starting with an appetizer of your choice. Then Tagliatelle Bolognese. Then salmon or braised beef. And coffee or tea. And accepting whatever the diner wants or is able to pay. “Some people pay very little,” Pappas says. “But when they have more money, in three or six months, they’ll come back and pay more.”

 > The Risk:

Will Pappas’ generosity be abused? Will people who could pay, not pay? Will his margins erode to the point that he has to close his doors anyway? Doubt it. Doubt it. Doubt it.

 > The Reward:

When you get creative. And daring. And bold. And original. And you appear to be going overboard with generosity. And this gets you the attention of the media. Then the only real risk you face is having to hire more staff to handle the traffic. (By the way, the newspaper quoted two twenty-something guys saying they paid $10 each for their lunch—a pretty good indicator that Pappas isn’t really giving the store away).

 > The Call to Action:

Bold. Daring. Different. Dangerous. Go on. Do it.

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