Chengdu hotpot restaurant has been forced to close its doors after its business strategy of offering its customers the chance to have all-you-can-eat buffets for an entire month by paying just a 120 yuan ($18) fee somehow went awry.
On June 1st, the restaurant, named Jiamener, launched its monthly membership card promotion. 11 days later patrons had completely eaten the place out of business, according to the Chengdu Business Daily.
It turns out that the only thing more questionable than the restaurant’s strategy was its execution. The membership cards included no photos and no way of stopping people from using them more than once in a day. Therefore, card-holders would either visit the restaurant multiple times in a single day or pass the card off to a family member or friend to use.
While the restaurant opened each day from 11am to 11pm, people reportedly started lining up outside the door at 8am and refusing to leave until midnight. Some even took food with them to go.
Jiamener was opened last December by five shareholders. For the first few months of its existence, it was performing unremarkably, so its owners decided to shake things up with a rather drastic monthly promotion. Su Zhe, one of the owners, told reporters that they all knew the scheme would lose money, but they hoped that it would help to hook a loyal client base on their food.
Well, the idea certainly worked in this latter regard. More than 500 people visited the restaurant each day during the two-week period, a time which Su described as being simply “insane,” explaining that he only got two or three hours of sleep each night while the staff were putting in 10-hour shifts.
However, the problem was that the scheme was much, much more of a money-loser than they had anticipated. In the end, the owners found themselves 500,000 yuan ($77,000) in the red and were forced to temporarily close up shop to reaccess their strategy.
[Images via Chengdu Business Daily]