One Last Party for Drew's Eatery after Disastrous Discount Deals

By Anthony Todd in Food on Dec 9, 2011 5:20PM

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Photo from Drew's Eatery's Facebook Page.
Fans of the Lincoln Square vegan-friendly restaurant, put this on your calendars. Drew's Eatery will be closing on Saturday. The owner, Andrew Baker, claims that some bad Groupon decisions did him in (more on that later), but he's not quietly closing. Instead, he's going out with a bang. A party, an auction and a gathering of fans.

Drew's Eatery specialized in organic, vegan cuisine — especially hot dogs. Unfortunately, they started running daily deals on various sites to build business, and the owner claims they destroyed the restaurant - his full statement is here.

Saturday is their last day of operation. They will be serving complimentary (yes, free) food and drinks from 11a.m. - 6 p.m., auctioning off the restaurant's furniture and equipment, and accepting donations to close out their books. If you're a fan of the restaurant, you'd better go tomorrow.

As many have pointed out, Groupon and other daily deal sites can be a really bad idea for restaurants if mismanaged. Deal sites generally demand that restaurants offer subscribers a 50 percent discount (e.g. $5 for $10 worth of product). The site usually takes half of that $5. Now, the restaurant is getting $2.50 for $10 worth of product. If they only sell a limited number, or are prepared to recruit those coupon-holders into being loyal customers, it can work out. However, most of the time, the temptation is the cash - a huge lump-sum payment of all the money from coupon sales, without the realization of the money lost in the long run.

Baker doesn't blame the deal sites - and, as an experienced businessperson, he might have been able to see this coming. But when every business around you is discounting (and gets lines out the door when they do) we can understand why it would be hard not to jump on the bandwagon. After the story of their closing hit the Sun Times, Baker posted this to facebook: "I am really surprised at how much attention the closing of the restaurant is getting. I want to say that I don't blame the deal sites. It was my decision to do them. Right now, let's make sure Drew's goes out with a bang. I hope to see you tomorrow!"

Drew's Eatery is located at 2207 W. Montrose Ave.