Closings, Openings And Gift Cards

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - March 18, 2009
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If you need any kind of evidence that most people are concerned about using restaurant gift certificates as soon as they hear a restaurant is about to close, then you needed to look no further than the lines that formed outside E&O Trading Company from Wednesday through Sunday last week. The wait to get in (to a restaurant that was closing largely because of lack of business) was about an hour and a half at times.

“We had an extraordinary week when we announced our closure,” said E&O Trading Company partner Kenwei Chong, obviously aware of the irony. “I would say that about 40 percent of the customers who waited in line had a gift certificate. We honored thousands of dollars in certificates the last few days of our business.”

But what if you didn’t make it to the Ward Centre location before the doors closed? And what if you’re holding certificates from Nick’s Fishmarket or other restaurants that are now no longer in business?


Best-case scenario is that another restaurant will pick up your check - or at least a part of it. Certificates for E&O Trading Co., for example, are being honored at P.F. Chang’s to a value of $50 per check.

“There’s no way that P.F. Chang’s can track the value of our gift certificates,” says Chong, “so this is more of a goodwill gesture on their part.”

Hand over your E&O certificate and you’ll receive a $50 credit on your food bill, regardless of the original value of your gift. The offer is good until the end of March. It’s not ideal, but then neither are the times. When Nick’s Fishmarket closed, Aria Restaurant, the newly opened nightclub/lounge/restaurant at Century Center, offered to honor Nick’s certificates. Its deal is one certificate per table, and there’s a limit of $25. You don’t have to be a math genius to work out that the $200 gift card you were hanging on to for a special night out has gone the way of the stock market ... On a marginally more optimistic note, I bumped into Ben Dowling, former general manager of Nick’s Fishmarket, who assured me that the restaurant will reopen when the time is right ...

Timing is obviously right at The Counter, where one month after opening day there are still crowds standing in line outside. Customers are either waiting for a table or trying to decide which of the 300,000-plus combinations they want with their burger. Even Daniel Dae Kim can’t decide which one he likes best. “Every time I come in with my friends and see what they’re having, I think, ‘Wow, I’m having that next time,’” says the LOST star and co-owner of the restaurant ...

I had a nice chat with one of the world’s most tasteful men Saturday evening. David Beahm is the man who planned the wedding of Michael Douglas and Katherine Zeta Jones, which has since become known as “The Wedding of the Century.” He’s one of the top 10 designers in New York and was in town to oversee opening night at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel. I wondered if his stylish accolades were ever a bit of a social burden. He laughed, obviously enjoying the question. “Yes!” he said. “People say to me all the time, ‘Oh I could never invite you over to my house for dinner.’” ... I took a tour of Azure when I was at the hotel. The décor is all “Moorish Morocco” and is mercifully miles away from the dining room’s previously pink incarnation. Can’t wait to try the food ...

Happy eating!

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