Steak for Stock: The Latest Economic Stimulus

Smith & Wollensky, like a lot of New York City businesses, relies heavily on Wall Street bonuses for its cash flow.

Smith & Wollensky steak
Alan Stillman | Smith & Wollensky NYC
Smith & Wollensky steak

So, when firms started handing out their bonuses in stock, Smith & Wollenskyfounder Alan Stillman came up with an idea: “Why don’t we take their stock?”

When the steak chain's financial attorney said, "You can't do that," Stillman replied, "Well I'm going to do it anyway!"

So, today they launched their “Steak for Stock” special where you can pay for your steak with a stock certificate, announcing it via a full-page ad in the New York Times. They have restaurants in Chicago, D.C. and other cities, but the offer is only for their New York Smith & Wollensky restaurant on 49th Street and 3rd Avenue.

“So bring us your CIT , your GS , your MS , your C ; we’ll gladly exchange them for sirloin, porterhouse and ribeye. And yes, we’ll even accept GM,” the ad reads.

If you try to pay with stock at lunch, the value will be based on the prior session’s closing price. For dinner, it's that day’s closing price.

“We’ll have a Wall Street Journal there to verify it [the stock’s value],” Stillman said.

Stillman laughed as he explained his latest wacky promotion (He once applied to a Ben & Jerry's ad seeking a president. "Steak and ice cream!" he explained.) but said they are fully prepared for people to take them up on their offer.

The disclaimer at the bottom of the ad says the registered owner of the stock must be present and must surrender the original stock certificate to St. James LLC, the owner of Smith & Wollensky, which will add the stock to its portfolio.

A Tale of Two Stocks: The meal you can get with two shares of Goldman Sachs stock and the one you can get with two Citigroup shares, from Power Lunch. Click on the video at left.

Oh, and to all you wiseguys who try to ask for cash back like you’re at the grocery store — no change will be given if your stock is worth more than your steak. (Though, unless you're Goldman Sachs, that shouldn't be a problem.)

“We’re not trying to make a political statement,” Stillman explained. But “they shouldn’t be hurting the city,” he said of Wall Street firms taking bonus cash out of the city's economy. “In this manner, we can actually get money spent in the city.”

He went so far as to suggest that other businesses try his economic-stimulus model.

“Why can’t Tiffany’s do this? Ferrari? Bergdorf Goodman?” he exclaimed.

A spokeswoman said they’ve already received several calls inquiring about the offer, including one from Citigroup.

That stock closed at $3.41 yesterday, by the way, so you might want to bring a few of them!

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Contact Pony Blog

  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.