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Bellagio, What's Up with That?

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singlemalt Aug 2, 2007 10:43 AM

OKAY, here's the deal. Five of us went to B. for dinner. Before dinner we were going to have a drink and some appetizers. (I love their fried calamari, with tomato sauce and basil, and a few roasted garlic cloves thrown in). As we went in we noticed a sign that said half price appetizers, and possibly drinks, don't remember, during happy hour ONLY on the patio and at the bar. I suppose they do that so the happy hour shoppers don't take up tables from the dinner customers. But, we were told that because we were not seated at the bar, (all 5 of us?), nor at the patio ( sun beaming down) we could not take advantage of the happy hour specials. Mind you again, we were there to eat dinner. For some reason I feel cheated in that because we sat down proper and ordered food we were exempt from the HH special. If we had waltzed in and just had drinks and appetizers and left, we would have been better off. It don't seem quite right. What is your opinion out there? In case any B. people are reading this, what happened to us is a deal breaker. There are too many other good restuarants in town to go to. Sorry, won't be back although our dinners were very good.

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  1. tom in austin RE: singlemalt Aug 2, 2007 11:38 AM

    > Sorry, won't be back although our dinners were very good.

    What did y'all get? Want to take a minute to describe it? I've never been here, and if it "very good" I might want to give it a shot.

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      smilezok RE: singlemalt Aug 2, 2007 12:14 PM

      Is this Bellagio or Botticelli's on Congress? I just read this same thing about Botticelli's happy hour special on Yelp.

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        austinethos RE: singlemalt Aug 2, 2007 01:11 PM

        Singlemalt - sorry, but it's common that restaurants don't extend specials to the dining room. If they said bar or patio, they mean bar or patio.

        However, Bellagio just got a new exec chef who should be really good. As with any chef change, the new menu should be ready there in about 1-2 months.

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          SandraCan RE: singlemalt Aug 2, 2007 04:06 PM

          Did you try to talk to the folks about making an exception and they just wouldn't? I understand places have certain rules, but it's always a good idea to have flexibility.

          I ate at Bellagio a couple of weeks ago and the food was good. My hubby had the ravioli special with crab and he said it was truly excellent. I had a great pork special. The service was good, but nothing out of this world. I have heard that they sometimes have a BBQ ravioli special that is supposed to be out of this world. My one disappointment in Bellagio is that they had a poor wine menu. It was pretty sparse. Also, I like to have a moscato with my dessert and they didn't have one on the menu, nor had they ever heard of this.

          3 Replies
          1. re: SandraCan
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            Chefdavis RE: SandraCan Aug 2, 2007 05:25 PM

            BTW I am absolutely biased having worked in the industry for more than 14 years, so keep that in mind.

            Happy Hours are designed for a couple of reasons. Draw people in with drinks and appetizers and they will maybe stay or at least come back for dinner at another time. An additional reason is to create an ambiance ie "The place for young professionals to be after work"

            The restaurant is willing to take a little loss for that ambiance and the chance to earn further business.

            It is remarkable how short the margins are at independent restaurants (although a big money maker is usually beer and liquor but wine not as much), but to open up the entire restaurant to 1/2 off might be too much for them to take. I imagine with the patio and bar there are far fewer tables than the restaurant....at the very least less than the total.

            If you might argue that the patio or the bar is not full. It might not be full that night. Guests always remember and appreciate gestures and making exceptions, but they will remember next time they eat there as well and EXPECT IT the next time too. This precedent of allowing people to order 1/2 off in the dining room extended to some and not all tables actually could open you up to possible litigation (I am not kidding).

            Obviously my story leads to utter chaos and the end of western civilization, but I hope that you might understand their reason a little bit more.

            1. re: Chefdavis
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              singlemalt RE: Chefdavis Aug 2, 2007 05:52 PM

              I understand perfectly what you are saying and do not disagree with you,BUT when 5 people go there to eat, order food, etc. and pay for it, you feel cheated that you are paying full price for something that just because you are so unlucky or unwise to have chosen this restuarant. BTW, all 5 of us could not have sat at the bar if we had wanted to because there was not space. Remember, one unhappy customer tells 20 people , etc. Perhaps a better rule would be 1/2 off in the dining room IF you are going to order the full meal deal.

              1. re: Chefdavis
                Twill RE: Chefdavis Aug 2, 2007 05:54 PM

                Hilarious, and I agree with the premise, but I can also see how someone sitting at a table paying twice as much for the same dish as someone sitting across the restaurant might be a little p.o.'d.

            2. Alan Sudo RE: singlemalt Aug 2, 2007 09:40 PM

              I believe this is a pretty common practice.
              I know the famous 1/2 price happy hour at Roaring Fork (of which I am a huge fan, especially the fondue with mini lamb chops) is restricted to the bar area only.
              I believe the idea is not to reward people for sitting in certain areas. It is meant to encourage the people drinking to put some food in their stomachs. This serves to slow down both the alcohol consumption and absorption. Serious scientific studies have shown that food in the stomach reduces the peak blood alcohol level by a significant amount.
              Other places that discount happy hour food in the bar area only
              - McCormick and Schmicks (happy hour is the ONLY reason I would eat at this place again, but it's a fairly good happy hour menu)
              - Austin Land and Cattle Co. (select appetizers and salads)
              And I think Eddie V's has cheap oysters in the bar only, and Winks has a special bar only menu.
              Of course, some of these places may be flexible, but many are pretty strict about where you can sit to get the discounts.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Alan Sudo
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                singlemalt RE: Alan Sudo Aug 3, 2007 11:18 AM

                I appreciate everyone's input and know that my belief is in the minority and do understand the reasons for their policy. It's like my bank that started accounts in which one could get FF miles for so much money on deposit. It was available only to new customers. Some friends of ours had been banking there for years and were plenty sore when they were frozen out of the offer. I understand their displeasure. But, (whipping a dead horse here) half off a drink and appetizer is no big amount of money to the restuarant and creates many times over the ill will .

                BTW, I had the black fish special with mussels and shrimp on top. It was good, (minus the shrimp, which I am allergic to), well cooked,ie. still flaky, with green peas and chopped tomatoes. It had lots of butter on it which contributed to its good flavor. OTW, my wife did not like her pork chop and the best I can discern it is because of the food combinations with it.(I wonder why she order it) My son had the Tuscany beef (flank) well seasoned although over cooked. As I said early, for the money there are better dining experiences in town. I had not been there in years and wanted to try it again. Honestly, aside from the appetizer thing, I doubt that I will go back. I would much rather spend the money at Vespaio's.

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