YES, off-season specials are just about to launch in almost all of Jackson Hole’s restaurants! I look at this time of year as a bonus. I enjoy eating at all my favorite restaurants year-round, but when their local specials come out, I consider it an added bonus to save money where I would have been spending it regardless.
From all my years of working in restaurants in this town, I’ve noticed that many locals eat out only during these special offers. While I can understand this to some extent, it’s something that irks me just a tiny bit.
I know, I know. All of our priorities are different. We own homes. We have families to support. We need to save up for new gear. And we want to take memorable vacations. But it would be really nice if we, the servers, saw your welcome faces a little more often than just when we are giving the house away. In fact, if you—the locals—supported our restaurants in the busier seasons just a little bit more regularly, maybe our restaurant owners could make us even sweeter deals in the off-season. Just a thought.
Ultimately, I recognize that we offer our specials for a reason: to fill our establishments when business starts dwindling. I think it’s absolutely fantastic and yet another unique aspect of Jackson that I’ll always treasure. Everyone in town should definitely come out and take advantage of it. You’d be silly not to.
But sometimes, I’m just a little bit surprised at how rarely many locals are participating in our impressive food community year-round. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the dentist, for example, and the hygienist, when trying to make small talk during my cleaning, remarks on how she’s either never heard of my restaurant or has never been there!
Now, let’s be honest: How in the world is it possible that anyone who has lived in this town for longer than a season hasn’t heard of my restaurant or practically any other? We have roughly 100 food establishments in Jackson, plus Dishing has been around for almost an entire year, yet someone who has lived here for 17 years tells me they don’t know where this place or that place even is? And trust me, you who are reading this would.
These are the people off-season specials should actually target. Instead it’s the folks who are “in the know” who are lurking in their home kitchens waiting for Dishing to publish its foodie event calendar (updated with all the specials they can track down) and plan their bargain meals for the following couple months.
As soon as the deals are announced they come out of the woodwork, many whom we haven’t seen since the last off-season special. I don’t really have a problem with our local off-season customers. Spending any money out in Jackson’s restaurants is a bonus, and I am so grateful that Jackson has figured out a way to keep businesses open and successful during the slow periods.
If I did have a gripe, though, it would be that many of our off-season clientele are higher maintenance than our tourists. They expect everything under the sun for half the price our busy-season customers paid full price for. Let’s scale that back a bit this season, Jackson residents. Don’t act like because you’re “local” you should get special treatment. All of my guests get special treatment—in that I respect them and do my best to make sure they have a fantastic experience while dining at my table—but become a regular and support your local food community year-round, and you’ll really shine in my eyes.
As for me … this off-season, I plan to eat 2 for 1 fajitas at Merry Piglets, $6 burgers at The Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse, try out the special tapas menu at The Snake River Grill, grab 2 for 1 drinks at Pinky G’s (Sunday-Thursday) and cash in on percentage-off-style discounts offered at The Blue Lion and Nani’s.
The best advice I could offer you is to keep your eyes on Dishing’s event calendar to see what else is out there, and read the Steals & Deals column Dishing posts every other Tuesday. In the meantime, I might go grab a bite from The Brew Pub’s $7 lunch menu … or instead, splurge on my favorite, the Slash ’n Burn Trout off the full-price menu. Either way, eat out and support your favorite restaurants this off season. Maybe even try some new ones.