If Bloomberg is correct, it turns out that some of the stereotypes people have about Meatpacking District diners are true. In a new profile from Kate Krader, a chef from clubstaurant juggernaut Tao Group confirmed that trendy, pan-Asian Dream Hotel restaurant Tao Downtown is mostly packed with “the bridge-and-tunnel crowd” on Saturdays and Sundays. And earlier in the week? It’s “suits and ties” using corporate cards.
The bridge-and-tunnel diners are usually coming in to celebrate, chef and partner Ralph Scamardella tells Kate Krader — but they also tend to spend less. Because of this, Tao actually earns less money on Saturdays and Sundays than they do weekdays. This is pretty nuts, considering most restaurants make ends meet from weekend dining.
Still, the more fiscally-conservative diners from across the river don’t seem to have a major impact on Tao making tons and tons of money. On Mondays and Tuesdays, 80 percent of diners pay bills with corporate cards and spend well, according to Scamardella. The highest bills end up coming in on Wednesday and Thursday. Last year, the location ultimately made $33.8 million in sales, making it the third highest grossing independent restaurant in the country.
Bloomberg’s takeaway: “Tao Group knows its audience, and it knows their schedules.” The story runs down all the other ways the company is a cash making machine, too. Celebrities love to go there, and combining clubs with restaurants means that people can spend the whole night with the company.
Plus, a ridiculous 50 percent of revenue comes from alcohol sales. Most restaurants make ends meet by selling booze, but 20 percent of total sales is more typical. Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You’s wine director notes that Tao’s ratio is “insane.” Ryan Arnold tells Bloomberg: “They’re stuff of legend in the restaurant world.”
Truth to that, man. Too bad the food isn’t great.