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Aug 19, 2013 01:35 PM

Do you use coupons at restaurants?

I'm sure this was asked before before but I'm curious how people feel about this today...throughout the year retailers, shopkeepers and restaurants offer come then, some people find using coupons in a restaurant a negative and not so in a department store or such? How do you chowhounders feel about coupons offered by restaurants? (Does offering a coupon to dine at a restaurant give off a negative connotation?)

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  1. I've used them on occasion. My feeling is that most of the restaurants I see coupons for are not restaurants I would normally go to and even a coupon for 50% off does not entice me. Remember, this is food you are ingesting and even a discount is not going to get me to eat at a restaurant I do not find appetizing. Also, I find that a lot of restaurants that advertise with coupons come off as being desperate for business.

    As for department stores, coupons are part of the sales strategy and it is a whole different game.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ttoommyy

      Good point.

      I see much the same. It is like the book of coupons, that get sold - I would never dine at anything listed in most.

      However, we do get various cards, and coupons, and some ARE for restaurants, that we might dine with - though not always. So very much depends.

      It's almost like the coupons in the various tourist magazines, such as "Where Magazine." I have never used one of those, and likely would never use one. I would also likely never dine at any restaurant, that had a coupon in such a magazine. Just not likely to be my "style."


    2. Coupons in the restaurant business are rarely associated with successful high-end places, so their use tends cheapen the image of the restaurant as well as the patrons who use them. Then there is the issue of the kind of crowd they tend to attract. I once took a class for a guy who used to own a restaurant that used coupons. He and his maitre'd developed a game in which they would take a quick glance at a guest entering the restaurant and then would try to predict whether that guest would turn out to be a "coupon." He said they got really good at it. Eventually, he abandoned coupons altogether.

      There are other ways to give discounts that are less controversial, such as happy-hour menus.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nocharge

        I agree, most of the coupons I've seen for restaurants are more take out or quick sit down places like Chipotle or chains like Outback and Olive Garden. A few higher-end places here offer discounts via Groupon but that usually does not include the highest-end of places and more so places in the low-to-mid tier and even then they are usually either on the brink of closing or new and trying to brew up business. That being said, I have used coupons at Chipotle and places like that before although I usually forget as the cost of the total meal doesn't really trigger me to search for some discount and I usually end up paying it and remember in the car that I could have saved $2 off a $12 meal. I've never used a Groupon either although I might. Though, I've always wondered the most polite way to announce that you are using a coupon - at the beginning, when the bill comes?

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          When I use a Groupon, I hand it to the waiter when I ask for the check.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            Maybe Seattle is just a different kind of restaurant market from where some of you live. I see some coupons (in newspapers, Groupon and their clones, the Entertainment Book, Val-Pak, etc.) for mediocre chains, but I see a lot more here for one-off neighborhood restaurants, many of them "ethnic." They usually aren't elegant or trendy places, but some of them have some damn good food.

            Or maybe we're just living at a different price point, and you would see the kind of places I frequent (some of which have become my favorites after a coupon first got me in the door) as too "low-tier" for your tastes. To each their own.

            I just came off of almost a year of being unemployed, and the judicious use of coupons made the difference between eating at home without a break for months on end, and being able to get out once in a while. Even now that I'm working again, I wish my budget allowed for fine dining more often--but even if it did, I wouldn't give up on my favorite dives and neighborhood regulars. And I don't anticipate ever being so well-off that I'll be able to sneer at a coupon for a place I've been wanting to try!

        2. Sure. I used a Groupon this week. I couldn't care less what the establishment thinks of me. If the food's good, I'll be back. The coupon is irrelevant.

          1. If a place offers a coupon or any other form of reduced price offer, I'd doubt whether they would then regard it as a negative when you use it.

            I don't think I've paid full price at my nearest pizza place in the last couple of years (if not longer)

            15 Replies
            1. re: Harters

              I can easily imagine a restaurant owner being eager to reap the benefits of offering a coupon (more customers through the door), but less than enthusiastic when it comes to actually honoring it. It's just human nature to be self-centered, greedy, and short-sighted… Or maybe the coupon was a big miscalculation and is really causing the restaurant financial difficulty. It's good business practice to hide these sentiments from the customer, but not all owners/staff manage to do so.

              1. re: DeppityDawg

                My favorite pizza owner admitted to me he had to stop putting coupons in the local paper, all it did was bring in riff raff and cheapskates. He was a classy guy so he wasn't saying this to be derogatory, just stating the truth.

                1. re: coll

                  Oh how right he is! I live in a state that has small time casino gambling, alot of the owners have had to cut back or eliminate on coupons, perks and free food & drinks because of the cheap asses and bums abuse.

                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                    Referring to customers who use your coupons as cheap asses and bums may be the reason people don't choose to go there. I certainly wouldn't, whether I had a coupon or not.

                    1. re: JonParker

                      The type of people I'm reffering to Jon are the types that would steal the silverware, salt shakers and anything not nailed down. They exist at every class and economic level. They are bums and no one needs or wants that kind of "customer".

                  2. re: coll

                    A classy guy wouldn't call his customers riff raff and cheapskates. I'd say that pretty much makes him a jerk.

                    1. re: JonParker

                      I wish you could meet Mr Zito, he's as classy as they come. Riff raff and cheapskates is more my NY interpretation of his Italian dialect description. He was sad when he said it, whatever the exact words were. do you really think the owners say this to their customers face?

                      1. re: coll

                        Maybe what he said was that coupons have a tendency to attract less desirable price-sensitive customers. Most restaurants would prefer to attract the price-insensitive crowd if possible.

                        1. re: nocharge

                          No, it is better to lose than to be abused. Would it be not so.

                  3. re: DeppityDawg

                    I just do NOT understand this. Remind me...who was it that decided to offer the coupon in the first place? Oh, was the restaurant's management! And now they're going to call me "riff raff" or "cheapskate" and act like they're doing me a favor to accept it?

                    If they're going to give me attitude for taking them up on the deal they put out there, this is an establishment that's definitely not going to get any more business from me. They would do better not to have the new customers that a coupon might bring in, than to bring in one-time customers, piss them off, and have them leave and tell all their friends about their unpleasant experience.

                    1. re: MsMaryMc

                      Just to play devil's advocate, it coud be the off-premises restaurant owner who decides to offer coupons and then the management and wait staff who have to contend with the "riff raff."

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Could be. But you know...into everybody's job, some bulls*it from their bosses must fall. If customers who use coupons bother the in-house staff so very much, they should take it up with their owner--and if that doesn't work, perhaps consider finding a job somewhere that better meets their standards. Because I'm pretty sure that being obviously snotty and disdainful of customers is NOT in their job description!

                      2. re: MsMaryMc

                        I think that in the early days of Groupon, there were many businesses that did deals that came back to haunt them because they didn't properly understand the ramifications of the format and were overly optimistic about how the deal would result in repeat customers paying full price. That may have led to frustration on part of some business owners, but it's obviously not an excuse for any form of rudeness. If offering discount coupons doesn't draw the kind of crowd the restaurant desires, it shouldn't be offering them.

                      3. re: DeppityDawg

                        " Or maybe the coupon was a big miscalculation and is really causing the restaurant financial difficulty. It's good business practice to hide these sentiments from the customer, but not all owners/staff manage to do so."

                        The last coupon we used was an Amazon Local coupon for an Italian deli (Sorriso's in Astoria, Queens - they are fantastic, make the most amazing homemade soppresata, mozzarella, pasta and pasta sauces, etc. - highest possible recommendation from me, for any of you in NYC). We were pretty surprised to see that they would offer a deal like this since they are a longtime established business, very busy, a line at the counter at any time of the day or week when you go in. But since we shop there anyway we jumped on the chance and bought the maximum number of coupons, used two of them right away, and promptly forgot about the other two until last week right before they were set to expire. Apparently a lot of other people also ran into redeem their coupons before the end of the month - because when we brought our order up to the counter and presented the coupon, the counter guy's face kind of fell and he said, "you know, we don't actually come out ahead on these things unless you buy MORE than the coupon amount." Mr Rat being the kind of impulse shopper he is, we ended up having $80 worth of stuff on a $30 dollar coupon, so the guy perked right up. And to be fair, he was not somebody I'd seen there before and was definitely not one of the owners/managers - but still it was funny that he'd come right out and say what we all know to be true, but shouldn't say to a customer. Not a politic sales style, to be sure :)

                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                          I have not found that to be the case. It would make no sense to use coupons which are often to get you in the door, then keep you from coming back with less than their best effort.

                      4. Will I? Yes, I suppose.....but do I let it factor into where I'm going to go, no.

                        Most of the restaurants I prefer to dine don't offer coupons, however if I'm visiting my parents (who love the Olive Garden or Outback) then yes I certainly will.