You’ve heard a lot about cheap flights and amazing hotel rates lately. Well, restaurants are getting into the game, too. Prix fixe meals for between $25 and $40 are being offered at upscale restaurants across the country. Hey, if you’re not likely to spend big cash on travel, maybe you can splurge a little on a great local meal.
The restaurants are suffering just as much as the hotels and airlines, so they need to get diners in the door.
This year, the National Restaurant Association (yes, there is another “NRA”) expects restaurant sales to drop 1 percent this year – as it did in 2008. That would be the first time drops happened in consecutive years since the association started to keep score back in 1970. This isn’t as bad as the U.S. Travel Association‘s forecast of a 6.7 percent slip in travel spending, but for restaurateurs from coast to coast, it’s certainly cause for concern.
So, if you’re willing to sacrifice dinner at home from time to time, you stand to win. National seafood chain McCormick & Schmick’s for example, is offering a steak and lobster dinner special (with dessert) for $29.95. Realistically, the company has no choice. Up to 40 percent of its customers are business travelers, and sales are down 13 percent from last year.
To find some real bargains, keep an eye out for prix fixe menus. These deals allow restaurants to offer a better value to guests without having to turn to coupons and discounts that would bring prices down relative to specific menu items. Also, every party of four is likely to have one or two people who pull from the regular menu … and they can always nail you on the liquor.