Philadelphia Restaurant Week is here again, the time when million-dollar establishments finally open their doors to those on tight budgets. Some of the participating restaurants charge upward of $60 a head on a normal day. But from Sept. 30 to Oct. 5, and again from Oct. 7 to Oct. 12, more than 130 restaurants in Philadelphia will be offering three-course dinners for $35 and lunches for $20.
The savings in dining for restaurant week, in comparison, are undoubtedly large, but still too pricey for the average college student. This “discount” may be cheap when viewed next to the original prices. But when evaluated alone, $35 is just too much for us to spend on dinner.
That’s not to say that college students should be forced to choose between their lust for high-end food and their savings. I believe there is a way to compromise, as long as restaurant owners are willing to consider the situations and restrictions that the average student faces.
College students have numerous expenses like tuition, rent and utilities to worry about. Keeping that in mind, I believe it is safe to assume that a typical student has more money going out than coming in.
So at what point, with all of this debt and doom abounding, is $35 supposed to be scraped up to “treat” ourselves to dinner?
Freshman early childhood education major Briana Johnson agrees.
“I think that’s way too expensive because you can get two for $20 at Applebee’s,” Johnson said. “If it’s more than $20 to $23, to me it’s not really a deal. We’re in college, we’re broke.”
Freshman architecture major Sara Eskandary had a similar rationale.
“If [college students] have a special occasion, but for a casual lunch I don’t think so,” she said.
In its original conception, Restaurant Week was aimed at a more adult-professional crowd. It wasn’t even necessarily trying to attract the average college student, but the pull of a delicious meal has inadvertently caught our attention. After all, food for college students might as well be equated with the word “hobby.”
Even though college students may not have been the original targets, they have entranced us with all the delicious aromas. So wouldn’t it be nice if they offered some discounts that were actually tolerable to our crowd?
In order to truly engage our age group, the basis of restaurant week could still remain, but merely restructured. What if the prices either dropped some more from those currently offered or, better yet, the menus were changed to include a separate one- or two-course option, compared to the typical three? Either way, it would be significantly cheaper than what is available now.
The latter idea is especially enticing because it is a compromise between the original targeted patrons of Restaurant Week and us, the college students on budgets, who also would like to benefit.
In this one- or two-course option, at least the way I see it, students could drop the soup and salad and still get the main dish plus dessert — which is the most important course anyway. Personally, I could do without an obscenely expensive salad if it means the chance to taste a quality dinner followed by a truly life-changing pastry.
For now, my suggestion remains a non-option and Restaurant Week is still too expensive for a student on a budget to afford.
Of course, those lucky few with overweight piggy banks will disagree. But, at least to me, the money spent on that one dinner is easily worth a week of groceries.
This food may be gourmet, but a recipe found online and $10 at the Fresh Grocer is more than enough to pleasure my taste buds and satisfy my hunger.
Tears because of an empty wallet not included.
Cindy Stansbury can be reached at email@example.com.