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Ask Eater: Redeeming Defunct Gift Certificates

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2009_05_fleurdesel.jpgAn interesting discussion question from the inbox today: Should restaurants redeem gift certificates to their now defunct sister operations?

"A friend just informed me that he received a gift certificate to Fleur De Sel as a wedding gift in Late October. The restaurant closed in February. Owner Cyril Renaud also owns Bar Breton, nearby. Shouldn't they honor the Fleur De Sel certificate (which they currently refuse to do)? They closed Fleur De wasn't put into bankruptcy. How can they/he not either honor the certificate at his other restaurant or refund the money? What is the proper protocol? What's his recourse?"
On the one hand, they are completely different restaurants with different price points. On the other, the owner took the money and gave nothing in return (one of the reasons retailers love gift certificates so much) and could easily fix the problem. Plant your thoughts down below.

UPDATE: From the reader: "Bar Breton called my buddy an hour ago and said they would honor the Fleur de Sel certificate."
UPDATE No. 2: From owner Cyril Renaud:

".Saw your post yesterday about someone who wanted to redeem an unused Fleur de Sel gift certificate at Bar Breton, and I just wanted to send a quick note to follow up. Before closing Fleur de Sel several months ago, we decided to actively alert our customers and the media a month in advance (rather than right before closing, or not at all) so that we could give our customers plenty of time to dine at Fleur de Sel one last time before it closed—including people with gift certificates that they hadn’t yet had a chance to use. However, we understand that not everyone may have had a chance to use their Fleur de Sel gift certificates during the last month the restaurant was open, and we want to make sure those people have an opportunity to use their gift certificates in some way now. We have decided that if you have an unused Fleur de Sel gift certificate (of any amount), we will offer you a complimentary three-course dinner for two at Bar Breton, including wines paired with each course. This is what we have arranged with the gentleman referred to in your post, and we invite anyone else with a Fleur de Sel gift certificate to do the same thing. We hope gift certificate holders will agree that this is a fair way to account for the outstanding gift certificates."
· Ask Eater: Is it That Hard to Squeeze in a Third? [~E~]

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