Tonight I took my relatives to Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese restaurant that serves Shanghainese cuisine.
And its location in Shin Kong Place at Dawang Lu is usually quite busy, even on weekdays.
But today, Wednesday night it was quite mellow, with only a few second seatings by the time we left at 8:30pm.
This is the impact of the financial crisis on a popular restaurant with the well-to-do.
And the eatery has decided to fight the downturn with an interesting promotion.
Printed on the paper place mats is an invitation for diners to get a "VIP" card. If you put 1,000 RMB ($145.70) on the card that is used like cash, then you can get 10 percent off -- as in 100 RMB, or two 50 RMB coupons.
If you spend more than 2,000-9,000 RMB then you can get 15 percent worth of coupons, and the 10,000RMB and more get up to 20 percent worth of coupons.
I had mistakenly thought I could get 10 percent off each time I dined when using the card as cash. Oh and you also get a "VIP" dessert not on the menu. What is it? A slightly cold red bean soup that wasn't up to the usual Din Tai Fung standards.
So while the restaurant snagged me as a VIP customer, I'm not very impressed. They really should be giving me 10 percent off each time I dine there for using that VIP card. That would keep me coming back even if I had to add more money to that card. Giving me two 50RMB coupons isn't going to cut it.
I understand profit margins are starting to get slimmer, but isn't it better to get more customers through the door than being stingy about what you serve them?