By my reckoning we are about 5 to 6 months off before Capetonians starting bitching bitterly about the heat and the wind. For now we will listen to how long the winter has been dragging on. To be fair, we have had plenty rain and few of those blissful winter weeks of sunshine we enjoyed last year - but so be it.
Yet, as fate would have it, the tardy weather has brought more winter tourists to the Mother City than I have ever seen before, save the World Cup. Most restaurateurs I have spoken to, especially within the city centre, are at one - this winter was better than last.
Then why are we still seeing a deluge of winter specials? Nearly every website I visit promotes them, and I take daily calls asking what specials we are running during winter.
Have Capetonians started taking winter specials for granted?
What exactly is a winter special? A friend recently invited me to a restaurant to take advantage of their Winter Special. 3 courses for the price of 2, or both eat 3 courses and you get the cheapest main for free. I cannot remember. The result was a bill exceeding R600 and enough leftovers for the car guard to feed his mates on either side of his patch.
The point is I do not eat 3 courses. The point is we ordered a more expensive bottle of wine, because, well, we were saving on the food. And the problem was I could not see where the restaurateur was saving to make this special possible. The restaurant was empty. Perhaps some staff member paid the price?
Restaurants are businesses like any other. We work on margins, and in the competitive world of seasonal Cape Town and its resurging spread of the good, the average and the bad, we see restaurants hanging on by a thread during the quiet winter months. Even the good ones.
But is it a competitive world when the demand is seeking spurious specials and not supporting the quality that makes eating out worth the money you choose to spend? Eat at home.
The Winter Special Syndrome
Just hear me out... please.
If there are restaurants out there that can survive while treating us to half-price meals during the winter, why can they not maintain that price quality in the summer?
Do we need to support any institution that says to us, “We will modify our prices during the quiet times, but you cannot afford to eat with us when greed can corrupt our margins and put you in another consumer category.”
Please Cape Town folk, you are eating lesser products when you eat Winter Specials, you are eating smaller portions, you are drinking more wine and spending as much due to the Winter Special syndrome. And you are keeping someone out of work.
If you cannot afford the posh, or the popular, find a lovely back street local that makes a good fresh meal and support them all year round.
As a restaurateur I cannot afford diamonds, so I do not buy them from blood mines.
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