This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #130

Culinary no-no's

The deal sounded like one of those that was just too good to be true.

Except that that it was too good. And it was true.

Earlier this month, the dining discount program that I subscribe to offered an incredible bargain. Coinciding with 09/09/09, many participating restaurants made available certificates that were 90% off.

I quickly grabbed several, including two for Wegner’s St. Martin’s Inn of Franklin. Too good to be true? No sir! I was printing out $25 gift certificates at a buck apiece (I gave them to my brother who goes to Wegner’s a lot. He was also trying to secure certificates but couldn’t because someone managed to get the last pair. Hmmmm..)

New certificates are issued at the beginning of the month since some restaurants sell out. The discounts get bigger and bigger as the month progresses and get up to as much as 80%. The 90% gimmick was probably a one-time offer.

Cost to subscribe to Nothing. It’s free. E-mail alerts about discounts are sent every week or so.

Ditto for (that I also subscribe to), another restaurant site that allows you to make online reservations at some of the best restaurants in cities across America. Every reservation brings points. Collect enough points and you receive a large discount to any participating OpenTable dining spot.

Do you know how convenient it is before going on your honeymoon to make a ressie for a popular place in Waikiki from the warm confines of your own den?

With the economic downturn and the need for restaurants to fill empty seats, online offers are a trend in the dining business that has become quite popular.

Christopher Borrelli of the Orlando Sentinel reports, “According to Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant analyst with the market-research firm NPD Group, for the quarter that ended in June, restaurant visits that involved some form of discount coupon were up 11 percent. Of those visits, 18 percent used an Internet-based certificate.”

I was very surprised at the premise of Borelli’s column that consumers need to “distinguish the deals from the duds on discount dining sites.”  Borelli concedes that he hasn’t quite figured these sites out.

Yes, there are, as Borelli submits, strings attached to these discount offers.

True, you receive a $25 gift certificate for a few bucks. But it only applies if you spend anywhere from $35-$50. Some time ago, Mia Famiglia in Hales Corners stipulated you had to spend a minimum of $60. As nice a place as it is, who do they think they are? Sanford’s? Where’s the deal in that?

There are often other caveats. The tax, tip and/or alcohol may not count towards the final total.

Fish fry Friday nights included? I haven’t found too many, if any.

Can I use the certificates Saturday nights? Don’t be so sure.

What about before 8 p.m.? Better read up on that.

You mean to tell me I can get $25 certificates to Bacchus for $2? Ummmmm, no.

Some of your favorites may not be participating. And certificates at some of the best establishments at, like Karl Ratzsch’s and the Milwaukee Chophouse get snarfed up so fast, they’re never available for a 60, 70, or 80% discount.

It is rare that you will find a certificate that is only good on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s when there’s an “R” in the month after 9:00 that does not include tax, tip or alcohol that will automatically charge a 20% tip.  Still, Mr. Borelli, you need to take the 3.68 seconds to read the handful of stipulations.

Most of the time, the deals are quite good and it doesn’t take rocket science to determine if the deal is right for you. As far as no-no’s go, the few minor hoops you might, emphasize might have to jump through are well worth it.

The odds are that you are probably going to spend $35-$50 anyway if it’s just the two of you; no sweat if it’s a bigger group.

Take my word for it. Unlike the Orlando Sentinel's Christopher Borelli, you will be able to figure it out. And you’ll be happy you did.

Keep those discounts coming!!!


Jennifer and I had a green wedding cake.

It looked a little like this as far as the shape and color were concerned.

Why did we have a green wedding cake?

People still talk to us about how great that cake was, green and all.

But some green cakes just don't cut it.


Newspapers are struggling for increased circulation. Yet a reporter at a major newspaper as well as an editor thought this was worthy of publication.

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