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Apr 16, 2008 04:46 AM

Restaurants that host "educational seminar" dinners?

Twice within days I have received invitations to receive complimentary dinners from some decent restaurants if we will listen to financial planning information. One was packaged so that, looking at the envelope, I thought I was being sent free dinner tickets, period.
I have beeen to these before and the food was usually poor or a low budget meal compared to what they normally offered.
What does this say for a classier restaurant when they rent out space and host these "educational" dinner events? Is it just similar to catering?

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  1. I would say catering. The restaurant is not hosting, they are renting space and selling food. That is the how they make a living. They are not degrading the place by renting it out. We have all been to dinner and there have been people we didn't think were "right" for the type restaurant. I have sometimes been one of those people. But that did not take away from the restuarant's reputation.

    As to going to those dinners, years ago we would go to anything that was a free meal: condo sales, land in the Sierras, retirement villages. It was free food, a night out, and we had a tight budget then.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet

      could be good ..in my town a finaicial planner's daughter owns a B&B and the host great dinners!

    2. The restaurant is catering.

      Regarding your decision on attending: it's not really free - you are paying one way or another!

      I decided long ago it wasn't worth it to attend unless I was genuinely interested in the pitch.

      1. For me it depends on whether the restaurant is pitching the event to its own customer list or just 'renting' the space. Financial planners and brokerage houses will sometimes try to reach new groups of potential customers by paying the restaurant more if the restaurant sends out invites to it's customers. THAT's a negative on the resto for me, even though I understand they're just trying to make money.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Midlife


          As always, you make a good point, and one that I had not contemplated. I make the assumption that I am on the broker's list, because I am in several social registers. I would think badly of any restaurant that "sold" my name to any broker, etc. It would be as though my country club rented out the dining room to a salesperson and then sent out "invitations" to the membership.

          Good call and one I had not even considered,


        2. Not a great deal of comment here but I didn't hear anyone say they HAD a good or great meal at one of these. Mine have been mediocre (like dry chicken cutlet), to poor. I think a good, busy restaurant would not be trying to do them. I downgraded one of these restaurants to "mediocre" that was involved in catered seminars.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Scargod

            A year ago, I'd probably agree and be skeptical of a restaurant moving into doing these kinds of things. At this point, though, I think it makes more sense and would be likely to skip the event (not my thing anyhow) and judge the restaurant based on the normal service at meals I choose to have their on my own.

            1. re: Scargod

              Yes, we all do too many "rubber chicken" diners with our normal social calendar. I refer to the months from April to June as the "rubber chicken circuit," because of the various Dr's graduations, etc.. These are events that my poor wife has to speak at, and if I wish to be in her company, I have to attend. We normally show up for presentations sake and then have reservations elsewhere. Same for most event cocktail parties. We show up, grip and grin, then go dine elsewhere. Free food ain't something that we're interested in.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  ""Yes, we all do too many "rubber chicken" diners with our normal social calendar.""

                  Rubber chicken, cotton dry chicken and concrete biscuits should be considered WMD! (Weapons of Mass Distruction -OR- Where is My Doctor - take your pick)

              1. Many restaurants that once declined the opportunity to host such things have opted to do so as the economy falters. Some of our local first-line restaurants have accepted groups, usually pharmaceutical companies doing dinner and drug info for physicians and occasionally nurse practitioners. Nearly all the ones I see involving the general public, like financial planning, are lunches rather than dinners, perhaps because many of them are aimed at retirees.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lemons

                  Doing such events at lunch may also be that the restaurant doesn't want to compete with its own dinner service by selling a number of seats and effectively closing off their dining room for an evening. I agree with everything you've said, though.

                  1. re: lemons

                    This may be a factor, but once I went when economic hard times was not the issue, partly because the restaurant was located in a high growth area. I think when I made this post we were not in such a bad way either.
                    I just remember having many good meals at an Italian restaurant in the Dallas area, only to go there for a financial planning dinner where we received cardboard chicken reminiscent of airplane food. I can't see how this would help the restaurant's image. It was scheduled for mid-week, so it wasn't that busy then.