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Dine Out on a Dime St. Louis Pages

Who are we?

We are folks who enjoy dining out and socializing in the St Louis area, and getting the most for our dining dollar!

So what's this dine out on a dime thing?

While it goes without saying you can't do much dining out for a dime, you have to admit it sounds cool! Seriously though, the idea of this group isn't to find the cheapest meals possible... heck, just order off the dollar menu at McDonalds to do that. No, the idea here is to get you the most for your money, while, as a rule, trying to keep that tab as low as possible. Also, in some circles, "dime" is slang for $10, and we'll definitely be eating at some restaurants where your entrée costs less than that!

Toward that end, there are really four kinds of events you'll see on our calendar:
  • Cheap Eats - This is exactly what it sounds like. This is where we find the best possible food for the lowest possible cost. These are usually going to be small, relatively unknown restaurants that somehow manage to offer great food at an amazingly low cost. In general, our guideline will be that the price for most of the dinner entrées will be around or under $10; these are our true "dine out on a dime" events!
  • More Bang For Your Buck - The next step up, these will be restaurants that cost a little more, but where you can really get a lot for your money. This might be a buffet, or perhaps a restaurant with unusually large servings; or maybe some sort of special deal where you get a great price on certain items. Either way, we won't be lowering our standards; the food still has to be excellent! Our goal here will be for typical entrée prices to around or below $15.
  • Affordable Feast - These are the top end of our price range, and on some occasions might raise an eyebrow for a group called "dine out on a dime"! These will be special dinners at higher-end restaurants where you get more for your money than you normally would. For example, a restaurant where entrees average in the $25-$30 range might have a one-night-a-week special where you can get three courses for $30. True, this wouldn't be inexpensive, but you would be getting far more for your money than you normally would since normally you might pay $50 or more for the same dinner.
  • Rule Breaker - These might be some sort of a special event; for example, I do a dinner on Chinese New Year every year at my favorite Chinese restaurant! Or, it might just be a restaurant that, for whatever reason, I think would make a great place to have dinner, but that doesn't fit into the first three "rules". In this case, I'll always give an idea of the pricing so you know what to expect.
All events will identify the type of meal they will be so you won't have any surprises!

What is the geographic area covered by this group?

In general, we'll consider any restaurant in the city or county of St Louis. We may occasionally fudge these boundaries a bit for a particular event (heading across the river into Illinois, or across the other river into St Charles county, for example) but this is the general area.

Also, from time to time, we may have a "field trip" to a restaurant outside the local area.

You are, of course, welcome to join the group regardless of where you live or work, as long as you can drive into this area to eat!

Is there any cost to be a member?

In keeping with the cost-effective focus of the group, there are NO membership fees, and NO per-event fees of any kind. You do have to buy your own meal, though!

What kind of restaurants will you be visiting? What nights of the week?

Every kind! The objective here is to socialize and have a good time while enjoying good food at a great price. Toward that end, we'll be visiting any restaurant that can meet that criteria, hopefully encompassing a variety of cuisines. Some types of cuisine (Mexican, for instance) are typically lower in cost, whereas others (French comes to mind) are usually pricey; so don't be surprised if you see more of the former than the latter! While not every restaurant will appeal to every member, hopefully everyone will find some choices that appeal to them.

Similarly, we'll be choosing various evenings for our dinners. While most people are most available on Friday and Saturday nights, the problem is that most restaurants are the least able to accommodate groups on those evenings. And, of course, many folks have other plans on those nights anyway. So, as with the cuisine, we'll be doing various evenings in the hope that most folks will be able to attend a good variety of dinners.

We might even get crazy and do a weekend breakfast, brunch, or lunch on occasion.

As for the restaurants themselves, here is the general criteria:
  • The organizer will have visited the restaurant at least twice for dinner (or the meal being considered) and have been pleased with the food, service, and cost-effectiveness of the restaurant.
  • All restaurants in St Louis county are now non-smoking, so this is no longer an issue. But if we happen to have an event outside the county, then the restaurant must be substantially, or better yet entirely, non-smoking, and be able to seat our group in a true non-smoking area.
  • They must be able to accommodate a group of our size. Now, it's important to remember that many restaurants that deliver an especially good deal tend to be smaller, possibly mom-and-pop types of places. So the last thing we want to do is overrun them! But I also don't want members who want to come to a dinner to be unable to do so. So toward that end, there are a couple ways I'll address it when we have a large group:
    • In some cases, we'll just take our time, relax, and remember that the service is going to be leisurely. Since the point of our dinners is also to converse and make new friends, think of it as some extra time to do just that.
    • In other cases, we'll do a "spread arrival". This means that instead of planning on arriving at a specific time, I'll encourage members to spread out their arrival over a half hour to an hour. True, this means that we won't all be eating at the precise same time, but it also means the restaurant will better be able to serve us faster overall. And, again, this leaves more time to just relax and socialize.
    • And finally, in some cases I'll simply limit the number of attendees... but have dinners on two or more successive nights! This actually helps us two ways... the restaurant has a smaller and more manageable crowd, and you have more nights to choose from!
  • They have to be able to give us separate checks, or at least divide the check easily.
  • Individual local restaurants are our main interest. However, being part of a chain will not disqualify a restaurant if it meets our criteria and otherwise merits inclusion in our pool of choices - although there are very few of these!

Are there any rules for membership?

As a social group, our objective is to have fun! But we do ask members to observe the following guidelines:

  • We need to give an accurate count to a restaurant for our reservation or we lose credibility; the restaurant might be understandably upset if they reserve space for twenty and only ten show up. Therefore, please be courteous with your RSVPs. If you RSVP "Yes" to an event, show up! We realize that occasionally last-minute happenings might make it impossible to change your RSVP, but this should be a rare exception, not the rule. And on the occasion where the event is limited, holding a space for yourself when others are on the waiting list, then not showing up, is just incredibly inconsiderate. If you are a no-show more than a couple times, you will be removed from the group.
  • All members are expected to act in a manner appropriate for a social group. Any actions that are disruptive, harassing, or otherwise inappropriate will not be tolerated. This specifically includes making unwanted advances at other members. Striking up new friendships is a big part of the purpose of the group; but making another member uncomfortable with your words or actions will get you kicked out of the group immediately. And while this should be self-evident, if you've joined this group it should be to enjoy dining out and socializing. If it's for any other purpose... say, selling us something... just leave now, because we have zero tolerance for spam or sales pitches.
  • We'd rather be a small group that is active and has fun together than a huge group of people that we've never met. If you join the group, we assume it's because you'd like to participate! There are no rules about how often you must come to an event (and of course each person's schedule may make some events impossible to attend anyway); however, members who have been inactive for six months will be dropped from the group. (Just sign into the website regularly, even if you can't make events! This will keep you from being dropped.) If you're dropped from the group for non-participation, you are welcome to rejoin when the time comes that you are able to participate!
  • If you do come to an event, please make certain that you find the group and, ideally, check in with the organizer! As amazing as it may seem (particularly since we normally have twenty or more people at a dinner), we've had people come to a restaurant and "not find us". See the picture of the guy over there on the left next to the word "Organizer"? That's me, Neale, and I'm at every dinner. I try to personally welcome every member to every dinner, but if you sneak in and go hide in a corner, I'm not going to know you're with our group if we haven't met, and I'll think you're a no-show. So make it a point to find me when you come to the restaurant and I'll make sure you're properly welcomed to the event!
  • The organizer welcomes constructive input about any aspect of the group's operation, the key being "constructive"! This most definitely includes restaurant suggestions. And, by all means, if anyone has a negative experience at any event, please bring it to my attention at once. Participating in our events is supposed to be fun as well as filling!

So, in summary, we're here to:

  • Eat good food at a great price!
  • Have fun!
  • Make new friends!

Hope to see you soon! Bon Appetit!

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
About Dine Out on a Dime St. Louis January 2, 2012 5:14 PM Neale

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