Burke’s Bargain Basement

He could get more color retiring in the Caymans.
He could get more color retiring in the Caymans. Photo: Patrick McMullan

David Burke built his business when the economy was booming, but he’s had no trouble navigating the downturn — he tells the Journal that he grossed $35 million in 2008 and expects revenues of $45 million this year. His secret is shameless recession specials: When Primehouse Chicago sold $12 burgers at $5 for one week last fall, lunch profits tripled. At David Burke Townhouse, sommeliers play auctioneer, bargaining with diners over what they’re willing to pay for certain reserve bottles. But, deals aren’t Burke’s only cost-efficient technique. Hourly workers see their schedules change with the reservations books. Chefs that used to take six weeks off unpaid in the winter are now being urged by Burke to take off for two or three months.

Recipe for Success [WSJ]