Home / Lifestyle / Food

Restaurant week comes to Beijing

By Eric Jou | | Updated: 2012-02-16 16:08

BEIJING - Fine dining and fine wines often come at a premium, especially in Beijing. However, all of that is about to change, at least for a week, with the launch of Beijing Restaurant Week.

Originally a concept from New York City, the idea of a restaurant week began in 1992 as a chance for fine dining restaurants to reach out to existing and new customers with a fixed-price menu. The concept caught fire and took off in other international cities. It was brought over to China by Onno Schreurs.

Having already established a restaurant week in Shanghai, Schreurs set his sights on Beijing. Beijing Restaurant Week will officially kick off on March 12 and end on March 18. Online reservations for inquisitive Beijingers looking to patronize participating restaurants can be made from Feb 29. The restaurant week in China is like the restaurant week in the US. It is a biannual event with one week in winter and one week in spring to help restaurants promote themselves during their slow seasons.

"The concept gives diners a chance to try out restaurants at an affordable price," said Schreurs, 36, managing director of for the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. "Restaurants get to woo new customers by showcasing their cuisine in the form of a fixed-price menu."

Schreurs' first restaurant week in Shanghai didn't start off very smoothly, mostly because it was launched around the same time as group buying discounts began.

"I went to New York and I saw the restaurant week there and I thought, 'This is great. If I could bring this to shanghai it could work'," said Schreurs. "The first two editions were very difficult. It was at the same time that Groupon started so everyone thought we were Groupon."

According to Schreurs, there will be 30 restaurants participating in Beijing Restaurant Week, including Huang Ting Beijing at The Peninsula and Terra in San Litun. As in Shanghai, participating restaurants in Beijing will offer two menus to customers. The first is a set three-course meal starting at 78 yuan ($12) and 118 yuan for dinner. The other option is lunch for 168 yuan and dinner at 248 yuan.

Schreurs said that restaurants offering the more expensive menu were told that the best way to make restaurant week work for them is to offer up some signature dishes and superb service. Schreurs said he wants restaurants to treat customers during restaurant week like VIPs instead of the way group-buying customers are usually treated — with contempt and poor service. While restaurant week promotes restaurants, the whole exercise may mean restaurants serving food at a loss. However, Jennifer Eden, managing director of SALT restaurant group, says she is excited about her restaurant Terra's participation. Eden says that approached SALT with the idea and she immediately jumped on board.

"I'm hoping more that we're giving good value and that people enjoy it. We have done promotions before, giving super cheap prices. We've done Dianping (a group-buying website that offers discount prices for restaurants)," said Eden, 37. "We're approaching it from a different perspective. We want to showcase our great wines. We want to showcase our food — good quality food at a good price."

Eden isn't worried too much about the problem of customers who take advantage of the offer but do not return. She says that the prices for restaurant week are not too low and, because of a limited number of seats per day, the clientele will have a very special experience.

If everything works well in Beijing, Schreurs says the next step with DiningCity and restaurant week is to move to Guangzhou and Shenzhen. "You want people coming in enjoying the food and leaving satisfied because a satisfied customer will come back," said Schreurs. "You can't afford to have anything missing. You can't afford the service or quality to be lacking or they won't come back. There isn't any point in having a promotion if they don't come back."

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349