Looking for a way to attract new customers, one Chinese restaurant decided to offer an all-you-can-eat deal that was hard to beat. For the equivalent of about $18, patrons became members, giving them access to all of the hotpot meals they could devour during a month. After ravenous diners took extreme advantage of the deal, the restaurant had to close.
The Jiamener Hotpot Restaurant in Chengdu, China, began offering the membership in December 2017. The owners hoped it would help bring in new customers, something the struggling restaurant desperately needed.
By becoming members, patrons could enjoy a limitless number of hotpot meals for a month.
The deal was a massive success, and the restaurant began seeing over 500 customers on a daily basis. However, many were using the membership to its fullest.
Some customers began forming lines outside the establishment at 8:00 am, even though the location didn’t open for another three hours.
While it did allow the restaurant to take in more than $15,000 by June 11, the establishment also accumulated debts as a shocking rate.
Diners had begun sharing the membership cards, even though they were non-transferable, according to the membership rules.
“Some people would eat and drink and pack away some too,” said one water. “They brought a huge bag to pack food away.”
According to a report by CNN, the debt total reached $76,000. This led the restaurant to close temporarily and issue an “emergency notice” announcing the deal was over.
“We knew we would end up losing money, but we hoped to build a group of loyal customers through the campaign,” said Su Jie, one of the restaurant’s owners. He also described the situation as “small-scale chaos.”
Reviews for the establishment were largely positive, particularly in relation to the deal. However, many expressed disbelief that a restaurant would provide food at such a low price, particularly with the “wide range of fresh ingredients” that were in use.
According to the emergency notice, members will be entitled to discounts should the establishment reopen. However, it is unknown if or when that would occur.
If diners who purchased memberships disagree with the changes, they may be entitled to a small refund.