Last week I boasted that Maggiano’s Little Italy “Today & Tomorrow” August promotion would be a bid success and complement to the Grocerant sector. I like Maggiano’s Little Italy, the format, the food, footprint. I shared the press release about the promo with an industry colleague who lives near the Bellevue location and he too was excited. So much so he went Saturday night August 1st. He called me from the restaurant after his meal telling me I owed him a dinner because this location did not have the “Today & Tomorrow” promotion (He was disappointed as well). He explained his waiter came over discussed all the “specials” and no “Today or Tomorrow”, then he asked about it specifically and was told no he had just recited the specials. I was so disappointed I called the Unit minutes later and was informed yes you could get ½ order special? They were seemingly unaware of the “Today & Tomorrow” promo heralded by Maggiano’s Little Italy marketing department! Which sounds so much better than ½ order special. I was disappointed and hesitant to believe friends and the person on the phone.
Tonight I drove the 34 mile round trip to Maggiano’s Little Italy and can say that the food was good. The waiter knew of the promo and took the order without question or hesitation. Our meal was good, service wonderful and the restaurant was clean and busy. BIG problem the bag of “leftovers” was had the wrong food in it! We did not look in the bag; it’s kinda like going through a fast food drive-in and grabbing the bag via the window. When we got home our food was not what we had ordered. No explanation was given when we were handed the food, we were told here is YOUR FOOD! What is worst is there were no storage instructions, no reheating instructions nor thank you in the bag opportunity not reached. The theme packaging was reminiscent of something you would find during the 1960 (plastic lid on tinfoil pan) which was on message but we are now in 2009. Opportunities identified then poorly executed don’t do well. I insist this is a good promo ideation, obviously a better idea than operationally executed which is a surprise for a Brinker concept. Customers want more from restaurants not less. Looking forward is want customers want. This promo still could be a big thing for and within the Grocerant sector. There will be a restaurant chain that will a little tweaking that can turn it around and put this promo on right in front of the consumer. The Grocerant sector is here the consumer is and or continues to move.