Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Temple Restaurant and a Clearing House for Tickets – Two Observations of New York City

Best City in the World

New York City is my favorite destination in the world. Any opportunity to visit again, whether on business or pleasure is a joy. With each visit a new light is shed on some other aspect of the city. I'd like to share two such spotlights with you.

In case you have been wondering The Personal Financier is very much alive. It may not seem so but I'm doing my best on getting back on track. It's amazing how life changes once you have a child.

Peter Luger – The Mystery of Building a Lasting Brand

Peter Luger offers the best steak I've had my entire life. That's a fact on my part. I may be biased but I don't believe the brand has enough influence on me to force such a belief. It is truly remarkable.

Still, that rarely justifies the lasting brand name Peter Luger has made for itself and has been successful at maintaining for the last century. We all had great meals at great restaurants, some more hidden than others. Still, such a strong, international brand name for a steakhouse is a remarkable phenomenon.

Location? What is so great about a 15 minute train ride from Manhattan down a grimy Brooklyn Staircase only to walk 5-10 more minutes in the rather unattractive surroundings of Brooklyn's Broadway Street?

The restaurant? I've seen much better looking classic restaurants preserving the glory of days past in wooden furnishings.

The service? It may be characterized as slightly snooty with a "thank us for considering you a potential diner" attitude at times.

The food? I've already mentioned the food but that is not enough. It is probably the best Steak I've ever eaten but I've eaten ones that got pretty close to it as well.

It seems the Peter Luger charm is a complex one. And as always, the answer with complex is everything. Everything from the location to the design and attitude constitute the brand which is Peter Luger and assure my returning on any chance I get.

The relatively remote location suggests a good thing deserves the effort. It gently insinuates that the steak is that good it does not need a prime location and subtly differentiates between the connoisseurs and the herd (You being the connoisseur if you've understood the trip to be worthwhile). It suggests the steakhouse is a temple for meat lovers who would gladly take the pilgrimage to pray at the altar of porterhouse.

The restaurant's classic design supports these gentle innuendoes with classic appearance and sacred design. The temple of meat will forever be as it is. A holy place, unchanged with time.

The service is suggestive, as if you acknowledge the sanctity of the place and its guardians and decided to entrust yourself with their capable hands. They simply know their steak is that good.

TKTS – Ingenious Broadway Clearing House

I believe the first thing a tourist planning a visit to Manhattan writes down is "Get Broadway show tickets at TKTS". To his or her content a blow has been struck against the Tyranny of Broadway theaters and their exorbitant pricing. Simply wait for the last minute and the giants of Broadway will fold offering 50% discounts to the witty traveler.

The lines at 47th Street and Broadway are always full of conscious, self-assured consumers who know how to enjoy a show at a reasonable price. I used to be one of those standing in line, content to have purchased discounted show tickets thinking I had outsmarted the world.

TKTS provides a good deal and an important service. The fact is, however, that much better deals are available with little or no line at all, and better yet, you can select the date on your own. These are ironically available at the theaters themselves. The same ones we thought we had outsmarted.

On my recent trip I learned visiting the different theaters is much more worthwhile than waiting the TKTS line. All theaters offer much cheaper Balcony prices for all available dates. Usually, for most shows, an upgrade to better seating is available once the show had started, curtsy of the usher. At TKTS you'll get good prices but on much more expensive tickets, usually ending up seating in the same location.

TKTS is ingenious. Broadway owes much to whoever came up with this successful clearing house for theater TKTS. In my opinion this is the main idea behind this initiative. Broadway tickets were standardized, seating availability made common and all that was left was centralizing the selling point in the prime location it is currently located in.

Curtsey of the Theater Development Fund Broadway theaters enjoy a great selling point, cleverly marketed and ideally located. The stress on theaters boxes is lessened and tickets are sold throughout the day assuring seating is maxed out for every show.

The selling technique also contributes to TKTS performance as the pressure on the client is significant as he or she is holding up the line. Prices are quoted rapidly for each show with little time to ask or wonder. Decisions are made and tickets are sold.

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