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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