Restaurants target residents

Many restaurants are offering exceptional specials to entice residents in an effort to keep their businesses afloat during these economically trying times.

‘It’s a win-win situation,’ said Clifford Woods of Cimboco, Chicken Chicken and Breezes by the Bay ‘The specials make it better for [customers], and better for us.’

All three of Mr. Wood’s restaurants are running specials throughout the summer.

‘A lot of our guests work in tourism and finance and we know that if the Island sees fewer tourists, then they are also seeing the effects in their income, which will eventually affect their ability to go out and have a meal,’ said Mr. Woods. ‘So we are just trying to be aware of the fact that the whole Island is struggling a little bit and reduce our margins to make it more affordable for people to continue living their lifestyles.’

Feedback has been tremendous, said Mr. Woods.

‘People appreciate that we are cognisant of the cost of living in Cayman. For all three restaurants our lunches and dinners are up. And Chicken Chicken is actually having its best year in 10 years.’

The specials are also a part of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s Staycation programme, which was created for local families looking for economical ways to vacation without the hassles and expense of flying off Island, Mr. Woods said: ‘Our local guest has been coming to see us more but the tourist guest hasn’t been coming as much.’

Ristorante Papagallo has also created an attractive stimulus package, which started in May and will continue throughout the summer, as part of the Staycation programme. Owner and manager Vico Tesstori said it has been received with positive reviews.

‘We would like to give the locals a nice meal and get them out of the hustle and bustle, giving them a great experience, while getting their minds off the economy,’ said Mr. Tesstori. ‘We want to give back to the community and give them a great deal.’

With regard to the names included in the stimulus package, such as, Tax Relief Friday and Bailout Sunday, Mr Tesstori said, ‘We just kind of brainstormed and looked around to see what was happening, and used the catchy ones.

‘People think it might cheapen the product, be we don’t think so; we just want to give people the best.’

Hard Rock’s Todd Lucas echoed Mr. Tesstori’s sentiment.

‘We change our specials weekly and don’t think that having these specials cheapens our product in the least,’ he said. ‘Because of the recession there is a trickle down effect, as suppliers are bringing in their products at special prices also.’

Giuseppe Gatta of Lighthouse Restaurant in Breakers said that with certain specials such as their Saturday deal of 50 per cent off all wines and champagnes, people now have the opportunity afford and try different things.

‘Feedback has been tremendous because the special allows them to choose wines and champagnes that they probably would never have ordered because the price was a bit higher,’ he said. ‘People have also been exposed to better quality wines that they probably never tried before.’

The Lighthouse has also reduced the price of its weekly cooking classes, which used to cost $50, but now only $35. The classes include a three-course meal and a wine selection.

Seven restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is offering half-priced wine from its entire list of more than 200 selections on Friday nights.

‘Our intention is to give guests a chance to reward themselves on a night when it matters,’ said The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Director of Food and Beverage Guntram Merl. ‘We’re not talking about a few dusty bottles from obscure regions discounted on a Monday night. This is essentially our full list with names guests will recognize from Chateau Latour to Sassicaia to Opus One, offered on the island’s premier night for going out.’

Markus Mueri of Deckers, Prime and Abacus described a promotion geared toward getting residents to return to his restaurants.

‘In January we saw what was on the horizon, and that it was going to be a difficult year,’ he said. ‘So the management team sat down and said we need to get prepared for the summer months.’

As a result, the restaurants offer a Very Important Customer programme.

‘After your first dinner at any of the three restaurants, you receive a VIC card,’ said Mr. Mueri. ‘With your second dinner when you present the card you receive a free signature cocktail or dessert for up to four guests.

‘With the third dinner you receive a 20 per cent discount on your bill and also have a chance of winning a $100 dinner voucher,’ he said. ‘It’s called eat-enomics.

‘Management also decided we need to renegotiate all of the contracts we have and also find a way to save 10 per cent, and that’s what we did.

‘We know it’s going to be a really long summer, but we just want people to come out and get their mind off of things. In the United States we are starting to see some signs of recovery, so we can only hope for the best here and hope for a high season in the future. It is what it is.’

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