"Tuesday is always a dead night, but this is ridiculous," says Bob Petito, owner and proprietor of La Stanza Verde. "We had 13 people during the pre-theater rush on the first early-curtain night [January 7]. That's about half the number we would normally have -- and, except for one table, they were all going to an 8:00 show. Some of the customers told me they didn't know about the 7:00 curtain and they were objecting strenuously. They said 'We like to go and eat between work and the theater.'
"You know, the producers tried something like this about 25 years ago," Petito continues. "I don't remember the details, but they tried an early curtain and it was a flop. It didn't work then, so why did they think it would work now? If people are going to a 7:00 show on a Tuesday, there just isn't time for them to have dinner. They get out of work at 5:00 or 5:30, get to a restaurant at 6:00, and they have to be out by a quarter to seven. That gives them 45 minutes for dinner. In Europe, where people are used to eating late at night, this might work -- but New Yorkers are not going to do it."
The maître d' and hostess at another Restaurant Row eatery said that business is "way down" on Tuesdays. "With an 8:00 show," the hostess noted, "we can feed people even if they're seated by 7:00. Now, they'd have to be seated by 6:00, and that just isn't possible for a lot of people."
Restaurant owners and workers are not the only folks questioning the wisdom of "Tuesdays at 7." Though some theatergoers have expressed approval of the initiative in television news interviews, one mom told TheaterMania that the early curtain makes no sense to her "because any parent who's going to bring kids to the theater isn't going to go on a Tuesday anyway."
According to a spokesman for the League of American Theatres and Producers, "The Broadway community is making an attempt to have the theater experience be as convenient and accessible as possible. 'Tuesdays at 7' is an experiment and we look forward to seeing the outcome." The program is expected to continue through mid-March.