Restaurants buck the gloom with HK$1 dishes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 November, 2008, 12:00am

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but it can be close to free sometimes.

More than 100 Hong Kong restaurants, food stores and karaoke establishments have joined a 'one dollar campaign' initiated by the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades to get Hongkongers spending again.

They will sell a roast-pork meal, a bowl of wonton noodles or a dish of steamed buns for just HK$1. Karaoke fans will also be able to sing their hearts out for hours for just a buck.

The first batch of participants includes the Tai Hing Roast Restaurant Group, Imperial Bird's Nest, Rhine Garden, King Bakery and California Red Karaoke Box.

From mid-December, they will take turns to offer items for HK$1 at selected outlets.

And there's no catch. You won't have to spend on something else to benefit from the HK$1 deals. But there will be a limited quantity available, and only at certain times of the day.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the restaurant federation, expects the campaign will generate extra trade for the participating businesses and improve the mood of consumers, thus softening the impact of the economic downturn.

'The worst time [for the catering industry] has not yet arrived. We hope to take advantage of the period before Christmas to do something to help ourselves. Relying solely on the government's support is not enough,' Mr Wong said.

The campaign will run for around six months. During that time, two or three businesses each week will offer HK$1 deals.

'There were a few restaurants serving HK$1 dishes at the time of Sars in 2003. But this is the first time the city has seen a one-dollar campaign that involved so many restaurants and catering outlets,' Mr Wong said.

He expects more federation members to join the campaign in the coming months.

Dried food retailer Imperial Bird's Nest has selected a soup pack which normally costs HK$30 as its product for the campaign.

Managing director Samon Chu is optimistic about the federation's campaign. 'We will surely lose money if people buy nothing but the soup packs. But we estimate many of them will be interested in other products in our shops, which will be sold at promotional prices at the same time,' he said.