Young and Hungry

That Dollar Lunch Dealie Is Kind Of Blowing Up

By now, you've undoubtedly heard about today's $1 lunch promotion offered by LivingSocial.com, honored at more than 100 eateries around town. The coupons entitle holders to upwards of $25 worth of food for just a buck, depending on the location. As of 11:30 a.m., more than 24,000 vouchers had been sold, according to the organizers.

Around noon at Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan, the line was out the door with customers holding printed coupons. A manager was standing up on a stool, wrangling with a cellphone, trying to capture the fustercluck on camera. He began shouting, "Does anybody have an iPhone and know how to take a picture?"

"That place is gonna suck big time in about a half an hour," grumbled one customer heading out the door with falafel in hand.

Across town, at Sticky Rice on H Street NE, manager Joey Belcher reports that a considerable line of coupon-carrying customers had formed before the sushi spot even opened this morning. "At about 11 o'clock, we had a line down the block and we actually don't open until 11:30. A lot of people were waiting so we opened a little early," says Belcher. "It's chaos. It's really, really good stuff."

Good for cash-strapped diners, sure. But what's in it for the restaurant?

"It's mostly just exposure," says Belcher. "For us, we just did our new spring menus. So we want everybody to come in and try the new stuff. Generally, with these deals, you're not making money, you're not losing money—it's kind of a wash. But we just look at it as phenomenal exposure, bringing in new people that might not ordinarily come to our area and hopefully making some new fans."

Photo by Chris Shott

Comments

  1. #1

    I got one for some little crepe place across the street from my work, and thankfully my window faces it, so I can see when/if the line dies down a little.

    Unfortunately, I haven't gotten any sort of confirmation for my purchase... so I'm going on the assurance from Living Social that i can just give the restaurant my last name.

  2. #2

    I went to Sticky Rice and got there around 11:20. My group of 3 was third in line when they closed the door for the first seating, so we ended up waiting almost an hour. Clearly the servers were very overwhelmed (not surprised at all or bothered by it), but the food was fantastic. We ended up with a lot of food for so little and definitely had leftovers. I'll be going back for sure. I'd call it a win for Sticky Rice.

  3. #3

    $1 lunch at Sign of the Whale was a complete fustercluck. Thirty minutes to get in the door only to find out that folks were waiting AN HOUR to get their food once they finally got served.

    Big-time FAIL on LivingSocial's part. They need to have some kind of quality control in place to make sure the restaurants that participate in these stunts can handle the hordes that are sure to descend.

  4. #4

    Waited in line almost an hour at Malaysian Kopitiam but for $1 lunch for 2 people it was worth it! Glad my experience turned out for the best.

  5. #5

    So glad I gave this promotion a miss. Saving myself an hour of waiting is worth the $8 I spent on lunch.

  6. #6

    Went to Starfish and they actually closed the kitchen less than 1hr into the deal and were refusing to honor it. SUPER LAME GUYS.

  7. #7

    I wouldn't wait 5 mins for sticky rice. Their food is mediocre

  8. #8

    I bought a deal for Cacao ($1 for $6) and they got me - none of their sandwiches were $6. I bought a chicken sandwich and a coffee and ended up paying $7. NEVER AGAIN!

  9. #9

    Please don't use the word dealie again.

  10. #10

    Went to Spice Express and only had to wait for 10 minutes. Great lunch for a dollar. Will be going back to eat there!

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