Naples Originals' "10 Strategies for Successful Dining in Lean Times" Reveal the Timeless Secrets of Savvy Diners

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Joining the ranks of "top 10" lists, Naples Originals, a group of 38 locally-owned, independent restaurants in Naples, Fla., announces its "10 Strategies for Successful Dining in Lean Times."

10 Strategies for Successful Dining in Lean Times.

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Joining the ranks of "top 10" lists, Naples Originals, a group of 38 locally-owned, independent restaurants in Naples, Fla., announces its "10 Strategies for Successful Dining in Lean Times."

"It's a great time be a diner," says Naples Originals founding member, restaurateur Tony Ridgway. "We want diners to be in our restaurants as much as they want to be there." Naples Originals Founder and President, restaurateur Lisa Boet advises diners to "engage owners in conversation. Ask for advice on best values. Inquire about upcoming promotions and events, new dishes, just-arrived wine selections."

Strategies for successful dining are more than cost-cutting tips for dining on-the-cheap. Great dining is not necessarily expensive dining, reserved for special occasions. If diners employ some or all the following strategies, they can stay within budget and still indulge in the pleasures - and the people - at favorite local restaurants.

"10 Strategies for Successful Dining in Lean Times"

1. Small plates are making a comeback. Dining out is about taste, not waste of entrees one may not be able to finish (though Naples Originals endorses "people bags" -- see below). If one's restaurants of choice don't have a "small plates" section on their menus, cruise the appetizer and sides sections and put together interesting meals. This strategy delivers flavor as well as savings.

2. "People bags." If an entrée is too generous for a smaller appetite, turn it into two meals. A dish often reaches its full flavor potential the next day, ideal for a nice lunch.

3. Dine early. Many Naples Originals chefs have created thoughtful early dining menus that feature their signature dishes at significant savings, usually 20% to 30%. Diners save money and beat the prime time crowd.

4. Upgrade your wine choice. Use a Naples Originals gift certificate and put the 30% savings toward an upgraded wine selection. The savings, $7.50 on a $25 gift certificate and $15 on a $50 gift certificate, can be put toward a wine one might normally shy from. Many member restaurants have extraordinary by-the-glass programs and this is a great opportunity to upgrade a wine choice and still keep the tab reasonable.

5. Turn breakfast and lunch into a dining event. Breakfast or lunch on-the-fly? Why not turn the morning and afternoon meal into a dining experience? It's a good opportunity to enjoy a restaurant's cuisine at savings of up to 50% over dinner.

6. Eat cake! Visit a favorite restaurant later in the evening for dessert, at about 8:00, after the dinner rush winds down. It's important to sweeten one's mood in these sour economic times. Even the most expensive dessert is rarely more than $12. Pair a decadent chocolate dessert with port, or strawberries with champagne, and voila, the result is a dining event for about $20.

7. Share entrees. For a wider range of flavor, order appetizers and share entrées. Many restaurants offer this option for a small sharing charge, but the total tab is still considerably less than two, three-course meals.

8. Buy a bottle of wine and take it home. Case in point: Recently a couple dined in a Naples Original restaurant. She had white wine by the glass, and the wine he wanted was available only by the bottle. No problem. He ordered the bottle and took it home still half-full. The law allows diners to take home unconsumed wine as long as it is securely recorked and placed in a sealed bag.

9. Dine at the bar. The bar is the equivalent of a communal table, great for singles and couples and a wonderfully social event if one is feeling friendly. The benefits of bar-dining are myriad: no reservation needed, bartender entertainment (or free therapy!), amusing people (or TV)-watching, and a light meal of small plates and appetizers, selections from the bar menu.

10. Clip coupons. Old-fashioned, yes, but restaurants continue to publish coupons in local guides and publications, print and online. Coupons offer percentage discounts as well as complimentary dishes or wine based on a minimum check amount.

Naples Originals' members share a desire to raise awareness of independent restaurants as well as all locally-owned and operated business. Research shows that every $100 spent at an independent restaurant generates $68 of local economic activity compared with just $43 for every $100 spent in a chain.

For more information, visit the Naples Originals Web site or the Eat Originals blog.

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Beth Preddy

Lisa Boet
Naples Originals
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