Questioning The Math Behind Gilt City’s $1,000 Pig Dinner (Updated)

For the third day in a row, The Bad Deal is highlighting Gilt City’s practice of not publshing a restaurant’s phone number or giving its readers a link to the restaurant’s website. We’re guessing Gilt City withholds this basic information because, well, the best values are to be found not on a daily deal site, but on the restaurant’s regular menu, and that’s a threat to Gilt City’s business model.

So today let’s look at Nuela. Gilt City says it’s a “celebration of flirty flavors.” Never mind that. Nuela is simply a very good Nuevo Latino joint. Gilt is selling a suckling pig dinner for 10 people for $550, a supposed 45% discount off the MSRP. The meal includes a whole pig, a cava toast, appetizers, sides, a magnum of wine, and churros for dessert.

So if you tip 18% on the “original” price of $1,000, like Gilt recommends, the REAL COST of the meal, after tax, comes to $778. Now here’s the problem: if you look at Nuela’s online menu, you’ll realize the original value of the meal is probably closer to $600, and that non-Gilt diners can enjoy the full pig dinner for a starting price of $300. That means you’re both overspending and overtipping with the Gilt deal. Here’s the breakdown:

  • The suckling pig is normally $300 for 10 people, including sides.
  • Let’s guestimate the “cava toast” includes two bottles at $44 each. 
  • The included magnum of wine is an Aldonza, which Nuela sells for $120.
  • Let’s again guestimate that for the churros dessert, the restaurant sends out about 5 orders valued at $9 each, so that’s $45. 
  • Our subtotal so far is $553. Still shy of $1,000.
  • Aha! We didn’t calculate the “chef’s appetizer.” So I guess all Nuela has to do is send out $447 worth of starters or sides and there’s your $1,000 value.
  • Now, you might accuse us of being cynical, but we’re gonna go ahead and say Nuela doesn’t send out $447 worth of starters, and that the meal MIGHT have been over-valued by $400 or so.
  • Final analysis: you’re getting a round of free appetizers with this deal, you’re not saving $450 like Gilt City says you are. And you’re over-spending by at least $80 by tipping on the “original” $1,000 value.

Also keep in mind that you’re only getting about one glass of cava and about one glass of red wine per person with this deal, so it’s possible the waiter will ask if you’d like another $120 magnum of red (sure, why not?) bringing the real cost closer to $930. Here’s our advice: order the regular $300 pig with nine of your buddies, and expect to spend at least $200 on wine, or much less if you’re drinking good beer (not a bad idea at all with suckling pig). Still hungry? Buy a few appetizers. You’ll still likely spend a few hundred less than the Gilt deal. The lesson: Nuela’s regular menu is a GOOD VALUE and Gilt City, with their shady savings math, is a BAD DEAL.

Update: We’ve alerted Vinius Vacanti, CEO of Yipit, a daily deal aggregator, about Gilt City’s curious math; we hope he’ll look into the situation and consider editing the 45% off statistic on his website.

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