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Jan 15, 2013 02:23 PM

Why don't (upscale) restaurants in the U.S. advertise?

Aside from chains (e.g. places like Mortons and sometimes Wolfgang Puck), why don't upscale restaurants advertise with either TV/radio commercials or in print?

In fact, when one thinks about it, upscale restaurants don't do any advertising of that kind.

Nowadays there may be those shill blog posts, or Internet PR junkets, but where are the TV or radio spots? Or what about ads in newspapers, or free independent weeklies (like LA Weekly).

Even in magazines like Gourmet or Robb Report, there aren't ads for Alinea, Rogue24, French Laundry, etc., right? One would think that the readers of those magazines would likely be in the socio-demographic group that could and would dine in upscale, gourmet type restaurants.

Or do they advertise and I just have never noticed?

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      1. re: ipsedixit

        Advertising obviates a certain exclusitivity many places want; Studio 54 did it the best while it lasted.

      2. re: Veggo

        Yeah, when they have a 6-12 month waiting list they really don't need to advertise.

      3. My old, old Gourmet magazines have ads for places like Luchow's in it (oddly enough a recently mentioned restaurant, now gone). I asked a restaurant owner in new Orleans once why we never saw his ads---and no one realyl wanted them--and he said he did not need them, that he had his own customers. Antoine's used to have small ads but I forget where...tourist things in hotels, I think.

        I once knew a man in the alumni office of a boarding school who said his school didn't advertise because "If people know, then they know."

        1. I've seen local advertising for local upscale restaurants. It would be a waste of money for them to run a national or regional ad if they only have one location.

          1. Why would a restaurant with a waiting list for reservations, reviews in major papers, and menus constantly dissected and discussed on boards like this one waste money on media, and what would a place like The French Laundry have to advertise that its patrons don't know about already. As noted the only print ads I see anymore are for Morton's and Ruth 's Chris in airplane magazines.

            1. i think they do advertise. but instead of the restaurants taking ads in media (print or otherwise), they "advertise" by granting interviews of the chefs, publishing cookbooks bearing the restaurants' names, etc.

              2 Replies
              1. re: akated

                Yes, I agree completely. They're "advertising" alright, just not via traditional print adverts.

                1. re: akated

                  That's not advertising, it's public relations or media relations. The difference being paid vs earned media.