All-You-Can-Eat Deal Backfires at Restaurant After Customers Leave Them $80,000 in Debt


We’ve all seen those all-you-can-eat deals. Sometimes they seem too good to be true, but they do normally mean a higher initial price for an “endless” meal. It normally always works in favor of the restaurant.

But for one Chengdu, China, restaurant it wasn’t such a positive experience.

Su Jie and Wang Mengfan opened a hot pot restaurant called Jiamener in December 2017.

Friends share a hot pot meal.
Hot Pot Restaurant (Photo Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Since their restaurant was new, the co-owners decided to run a special all-you-can-eat deal. They knew that financial risks were a possibility, but they were hoping to build a loyal customer base.

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They were also hoping that by having more demand from customers, they could have more room to negotiate prices with their vendors.

Customers were able to purchase a membership card that let them eat as much as they wanted in the month of June. The cards only cost $19.

The owners expected a busy month, but they had no idea just how busy it would be.

For two weeks, around 500 customers passed through Jiamener’s doors each day. Many lined up early morning and others stayed until midnight.

The staff was working many long days in a row and Su Jie said he only got 2-3 hours of sleep during the first two weeks.

With all of the business, you would think that the restaurant was doing well financially. But that was not the case at all.

In fact, only two weeks into their promotion they had accumulated about $80,000 worth of debt.

Restaurant Out of Business
“Sign of the Times” (Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Joy Brown)

Customers were reportedly passing off their membership cards to friends and family and because limitations or rules were not applied to the cards, the customers were literally eating the new restaurant out of business.

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Su and Wang were forced to close on June 12, 2018.

While customers were definitely abusing the amazing offer, Su doesn’t pass the blame to them completely. He said, “The uncivilized behavior of the diners was secondary – the main problem was our poor management.”

Some lessons are better learned through experience. I just hope that if these two business partners ever decide to open another restaurant in the future, they’ll take this lesson to heart.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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