A day after announcing the closing of his vegetarian-friendly restaurant, Drew’s Eatery, 2207 W. Montrose Ave., owner Drew Baker has come to terms with the discount deals (Groupon and Living Social, among others) that hastened the demise of his business.
“I don’t have any hard feelings,” Baker commented to Center Square Journal. “In life we are given a lot of choices. I made the choice with the deals, it was a bad choice. I have learned and I am moving on.”
Writing on his Facebook page, Baker responded to concerned customers, “Truly I feel bad because I should have never done a deal. I fell into a trap of everyone else is doing it…. If I had listened to my practical side, I would be sitting in a much better place. Next time I will listen, I promise!”
Drew’s Eatery will open one last time, Saturday, Dec. 10, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., thanking fans by serving up complimentary food and drinks (while supplies last) and selling raffle tickets, $5 each, for a chance to win Drew’s Wienermobile; money raised from the raffle will help Baker pay off his debts. Baker has also set up a PayPal account for patrons who can’t bid farewell on Saturday but would still like to donate.
As for what comes next, Baker posted to the Drew’s Eatery Facebook page: “I don’t have any immediate plans for the future. I hope to try and reflect and learn from my experience here at Drew’s, enjoy some holiday cheer, and then jump into my next project.”
Baker isn’t the first business owner burned by the discount deal trend, which he termed a “silent killer” in a note to customers. Restaurants, which make up nearly one-quarter of Groupon deals in the U.S., are particularly vulnerable to coupon catastrophes, due to their narrow profit margins. For example, in a typical half-price Groupon offering, where the customer might pay $25 for $50 worth of food, the restaurant only clears $12.50, the remainder goes to Groupon.
In a case of too much of a good thing, shops aiming to lure new business can be overwhelmed by a flood of customers attracted to a deep discount. A British baker recently lost nearly $20,000 in the case of a cupcake Groupon gone wild. Closer to home, as reported last year by Center Square Journal, LM Restuarant, 4539 N. Lincoln Ave., was forced to extend its Groupon deadline when it sold 2,700 coupons instead of the anticipated 1,500.
According to staff, 700 of the coupon-holders waited until just weeks before the deal’s expiration date to redeem their discount, a rush of reservations LM wasn’t able to accommodate in the time period allotted. Still co-owner Stephan Outrequin Quaisser remained positive about the experience. “We are here to make sure [customers] enjoy their experience at the restaurant, so we will do whatever it takes to rise above the occasion,” he told Center Square Journal at the time. “Anything that brings more people to the restaurant is a good thing.”