Random Ephemera

Owners Of Two Opulent Houston Restaurants Launch Dumbest or Smartest Kickstarter Ever

Peli Peli is well known for its two gorgeous, luxuriously appointed South African restaurants. One is in Vintage Park, and the other is in The Galleria.

Now the owners have launched a Kickstarter to raise $25,000 — but say they don’t really need the money. That’s right. Instead of donating holiday goodwill money to an actual charity, like a food bank, homeless services or pet rescues, or a fledgling business that can’t get a bank loan and actually needs help, Peli Peli’s owners think you should give money to them instead.

They are in fact working on a third restaurant, called Peli Peli Kitchen, and have already secured a lease at 9090 Katy Freeway. According to a press release, “the team doesn’t need the funds from Kickstarter to move forward with this new concept, but rather wants its customers to participate in the next phase in their growth and development.”

Wait, isn’t the customers’ patronage at the existing restaurants the best way for them to participate?

From there, the press release gets more confusing, as it starts to sound like maybe Peli Peli actually does need the money. The next part says, “funds will help to further invest into the company’s employees and the dynamic company culture that is the lifeblood of the organization’s success.”

Invest in employees how? Doing what? This is something the company cannot afford to do or wouldn't do on its own? 

In addition to whatever nebulous “investing” Peli Peli is doing in its employees, it will also build a wall of donor names to stroke the egos of everyone who contributes.

We can only assume this brilliant idea was spurred by the recent Cards Against Humanity Black Friday promotion, in which the company asked for $5 and promised to send absolutely nothing in return. The one-day campaign raised $71,145.

For as little as $25, contributors to Peli Peli’s Kickstarter will receive a Jesus T-shirt, perhaps to serve as a tangible reminder of what charitable giving is actually about. The incentives for donations are worth as much as the cash is, if not more. For example, $25 also scores a dessert at any location and an entrée at the forthcoming Peli Peli Kitchen.

So, what is this Kickstarter really about? In this case, it looks like Kickstarter is being used much like an independent type of Groupon. With the way it's structured, it appears to be more about getting a financial commitment from existing and potential customers to visit the new restaurant once it opens. In a sense, they will have already spent the money.

So, is it really the dumbest Kickstarter ever — or really smart? If the company doesn't actually need the money but just wants to guarantee you'll visit, is this the way to go? 

The Kickstarter runs until January 30.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Phaedra Cook
Contact: Phaedra Cook