Drew’s Eatery Closing For Good On Saturday

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, December 8, 2011

Drew's Eatery plans to close for good this weekend. Credit: Patty Wetli.

Andrew Baker’s eclectic carryout restaurant, Drew’s Eatery, 2207 W. Montrose Ave., is closed this week and will reopen for one last time on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with complementary meals for all comers, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Drew’s mix of gluten-free and vegan options drew a dedicated following, but the store was apparently done in by a poorly-managed Groupon offering, said Baker in a letter to the community.

“Trying to keep up with our competitors we began working with the online deals (groupon, plum, kgb, living social, reward network, price bunch, and others) We soon realized that these deals are not what they seem but yet are silent killers and only build false hope,” wrote Baker.

Baker is auctioning off the store’s fixtures and plans a raffle Saturday for for the Drew’s Wienermobile.

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  • http://twitter.com/joshuawentz Joshua Wentz

    Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

  • Anonymous

    Lordy, I wish these ‘deals’ would go away.   It’s instant gratification with long term disaster.  And I am tired of going out to eat and wondering if I am the only fool in the restaurant paying the menu price for my meal because I haven’t spent hours keeping up with all the ‘deals’ out there.   

    Smaller businesses buy in to these deals because they think it will give them visibility and draw in customers.  What it does is bring in one-time discount buyers who descend on the business like locusts, while shutting out the tried-and-true customer base, who don’t need to be convinced.   Then the restaurant ends up having to keep up with the discount demand, often finding that they have underpriced themselves to the point that they are running at a loss.  Why not just adjust your prices downward a bit for certain days/times – reward your regular customers…the ones paying your bills.

    • Dave Zohfeld

      I don’t necessarily think ALL deals are bad. I definitely don’t know the specifics of this situation but I will say that if Drew’s was doing ALL those deal sites that were listed, that’s probably not a good idea. One of things I know Groupon allows is the limiting of how many coupons are available. So capping the # is probably a good idea as well (especially for a smaller business), so you don’t get 3,000 people within the first week cashing in their coupons.

      As an example, my wife and I recently purchasing a Groupon for Pizza DOC. Even though we live in Lincoln Square we had never been there because we rarely head over to Lawrence. However, after using the Groupon we fell in love with the pizza and even though it has been less than a week since we used the Groupon, we have already ordered two full price pizzas for delivery this week. So in that case they will definitely be getting a lot of our money over the years.

      I think that a lot of businesses get suckered into the idea that they HAVE to do all these deals, and then they get screwed, especially when they leave the # uncapped. And then they are overwhelmed, everybody says bad things and posts bad reviews, and then the problem is exacerbated.

      • Anonymous

        Hi, Dave.  I agree about the cap limit, and I wonder why more smaller businesses don’t use it…I’m wondering if there is some internal reason, for example perhaps it costs them more to limit the deal, or some other reason they might not elect to do it.

        Another problem I have encountered with these ‘deals’ is that some businesses seem to resent it when you use the coupon (go figure).  I’ve had this happen several times, most recently when dining with a friend at an upscale restaurant that should know better.  We’ve dined there several times before at full price, the server actually knew us, but this time you would think we were some kind of street people who came in to use their bathroom or something.  Even though the food is great, I won’t ever be back there again, coupon or not.

        But my point is really that as far as I am concerned, the coupons have backfired.  I don’t like feeling like an idiot for not having one in hand when I go out to eat, and one thing I have noticed is that recently restaurant prices have taken a pretty steep hike.  If they managed to stay lower during all the lean years previously, why now?  One factor is probably to counter the discounts they have to offer to stay competitive.  It’s become like the airline industry – no one, including the actual business, expects you to pay the list price.  Well, I’m done with combing the internet for ‘deals.’   I’ll just expect to spend more when I go out, and go out less often.

        • Anonymous

          Getting the customer in the door is easy — keeping them coming back seems to be the challenge.   It’s been well documented that a lot of these businesses that subscribe to ____ (insert “deal” site name) don’t really understand what they are getting into. 

          Groupon, for example, probably explains that smaller organizations should put some limits/expectations in place but at the same time gloss over the deal as being the end-all-be-all deal and the business should go full force!  Groupon does explain that as a business you should ramp up staffing, etc. when the deal goes live to deal with the onslaught of a successful deal.

          I agree with Dave — if Drew was in fact running these deals on every site that he noted in his closure letter, he was potentially setting himself up to have challenges. 

          This brings to mind the challenges with the Cupcake Gallery here in Uptown.  We opted for their deal on Groupon.  Be it they were overwhelmed, bad planning, etc. the quality just wasn’t up to par.  Later I was reading over the Yelp reviews and they took a SERIOUS beating from what appeared to be a lot of Groupon customers.

          I feel bad when any business goes under, but at this point, it’s been highly publicized that it’s OK to take it slow.  Ease into a deal here and there until you get the hang of what to expect. Maybe if Drew and his team would have looked two steps ahead in signing up for these deals, we may not be seeing them close on Saturday.  

          Whatever the case, Groupon isn’t completely to blame in these situations.  Smaller businesses run on such a thin margin and without some strict rules, they are setting themselves up to take a HUGE hit; one that in a lot of situations they can’t rebound from.

      • Anonymous

        It hurt Pizza DOC so much they had to lay off all but 2.

  • kate citrin

    Oh no! Say it aint so, Drew!

  • Anonymous

    Don’t blame Groupon, et al.  They didn’t hold a gun to their head.  People looking for deals and lacking loyalty is a symptom of the problem, not the cause.  I hear horror stories (like the London, UK bakery’s 120,000 cupcake overnighter) and I wonder why more of these small businesses don’t utilize smarter fine print.

    • Anonymous

      The problem: people will only
      go there once to use the coupon. If you want to earn loyal customers,
      Groupon isn’t your best bet. If you already have a steady base and want
      to boost your exposure, then Groupon can be helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Groupon is the death for 99% of restaurants. They give you a large influx of cash up front only to take twice as much in the back end. You will never see another one of those people again after they leave, they don’t tip the wait staff, then those people yelp about how bad and over crowed the place was. The prices are going up since their food cost is going up, labor costs are going up, rent is going up. They have to make money as well. I can’t wait until groupon goes under. Yes all who sign up need to read the fine print, and do some research. Never take a deal from a company with a bad business model. They spend $1.41 to make $1. Sorry to see Drews go under, if you use groupon just know you will never see that place again.

    • Anonymous

      I disagree with blaming Groupon. Drews wasn’t a practical fit for the neighborhood. Neither is Pizza DOC. This isn’t a trendy neighborhood. We will pay top dollar for quality (that’s what sells over novelty).

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  • Anonymous

    While I agree with some of the complaints I have heard about Groupon, I don’t think it is fair to blame them for business failure. I liked the concept of Drew’s Eatery but they were not a match for this neighborhood. Lincoln Square, Ravenswood and Northcenter are populated by Western European Americans who largely enjoy meat and potato diets.

    Personally, I think the menu was overpriced and didn’t match the needs of consumers in this neighborhood. The gluten-free and vegan options are less practical and more ideological and a hot dog joint without french fries would have fit better in East Lakeview, Lincoln Park or Wicker Park where there is more a younger hipster crowd. I just didn’t see any Ravenswood locals lining up to pay $8 for a hot dog.

  • Jared Saunders

    Regarding the Groupon thing, I went to a great Social Purchasing seminar that the Northcenter Chamber sponsored at Laschet’s Inn a few months ago.  David Wachtendonk (@Wachtendonk) from Mob Manager (http://www.mobmanager.com) talked about things to watch out for when you’re thinking about setting up one of those *Deal* agreements, and ways to manage your campaign.  Super helpful.

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