By Ian McNulty
Certainly, New Orleans restaurants are motivated to improve their prospects in summer, when tourism dries up and the locals can feel tapped out.
Based on one measure, full-service New Orleans restaurants see revenue plunge by 30 percent from their peak winter months to the worst months of summer, according to an analysis of credit card transaction volume conducted for The Advocate by business software provider Womply.
When fixed costs remain the same, that kind of drop can be fatal. The Advocate found earlier this year that nearly half of all New Orleans restaurant closures over the past decade occurred in the summer months.
Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty
Charging less just when every dollar becomes more precious can seem like bad math. Some chefs, all too aware of slim margins and high overhead, are loath to shift the balance. Others don’t like the idea of discounting their pride and joy.
But those who embrace Coolinary say getting more people in the door is the most important factor for staying afloat as the long summer drags on.
Naturally, they hope Coolinary customers order drinks too — and not just iced tea. Once they sit for dinner, the New Orleans dining crowd does reliably spend more to wash it down, and that ups the tab.
But there are benefits to a bustling dining room that can’t always be tracked in a spreadsheet. Scarcely populated restaurants can look depressing, so empty dining rooms can stay empty. Getting some of those tables filled, even for discounted meals, can boost the vibe.
For staff who live on tips, the gratuity on a bunch of $39 dinners beats a dead shift.
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