All-you-can-eat restaurants are like doubled-edged swords. As a customer, you pay a price and leave in a food coma. As a restaurant owner, you mostly make good business, unless people take advantage and you end up in trouble.
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This is exactly what happened to Jianmaner, a restaurant located in Chengdu, China, which now has a debt of $78,000. The owners of the place wanted to develop a large and loyal client base, so they decided to risk losing a bit of money in order to develop a long-term plan, offering monthly subscriptions of $19 for unlimited hot pot meals. It didn’t work, and the restaurant closed after two weeks of business.
Su Jie, one of the owners, said that managing the restaurant was stressful and time consuming, allowing him to only sleep for two or three hours a night. “The uncivilized behaviour of the diners was secondary — the main problem was our poor management,” he said.
While this strategy of losing a bit of money in order to develop a client base is nothing new — it’s how Netflix has taken over the world — it epically backfired in the culinary business. Customers took advantage of the promotion and began sharing their membership cards with family and friends, giving free food to everyone they could.
Mashable reports that the restaurant blew up in popularity in a matter of days, with customers lining up for food at 8 a.m. even though the restaurant opened at 11 a.m. Long lines of people surrounded the place amounting up to 500 guests on a regular day.
Within 10 days, over 1,700 people had signed up for the hot pot promotion. Sadly, it was just too much of a good deal to work in the real world.