Simple Facts about Kyiv Discount Cards
By Paul Miazga
After living in Kyiv for a while, the whole thing about discount cards becomes demystified. Until that time, though, it must seem quite bewildering. Even today I’m still finding out about discount cards for places that I never knew had discount cards. Rumor has it that Peter Dickinson, the chief editor of What’s On magazine, has a 25 percent discount card for the Eric’s Family (now called “Lyubov i Golod,” or Love and Hunger) establishments (Eric’s, 44, 112, Viola’s et al).
To begin with, getting a discount card in Kyiv usually does not require any of the following: a close relationship with the owner, a huge bank account (or any bank account, for that matter), a massive purchase. In fact, most restaurants and bars will give you a card (usually good for about 10% off anything on the menu) just by asking for one (they usually only stipulate that applicants fill out a brief order form), and clothing and drug stores (and other places) typically hand out cards only after you’ve made a purchase (typically Hr 250 or more).
The idea behind the discount cards is for establishment owners to reward patrons for bringing their business to their place and to encourage patrons to leave the amount of the discount as a tip for the service received. It’s a bit like taking from one hand to give to the other (wait staff in Ukraine are notoriously underpaid), but the idea is a good one: restaurants here being over-priced as they are, patrons deserve at least something in return for not boycotting the scene altogether, especially since the level of service is often not worthy of a tip.
I’m going to focus my comments on discount cards for dining out, and two important things must be kept in mind regarding the whole discount card thing in Kyiv. The first is that, before you order, or at least before you ask for the bill, you should let the wait staff know that you intend to use the discount card. Failure to do so will usually mean that the restaurant or bar will deny you the option of using the card, with wait staff often claiming that the amount has already been entered into the system and they can’t change it, despite the fact that many places are now on a computerized point-of-sale system, which allows them to do just that. If you want to get a discount you have to get that out of the way early on.
The other important point is that not all discount cards are as useful as they seem. Is the Kyiv Posts’s five percent (5%) discount at the ridiculously expensive Japanese/Thai restaurant San Tori really worth the trouble of trying to use it there? Does anyone really need a 10% discount card for a restaurant group of one? I have enough plastic in my wallet, thanks. The most useful cards in the city these days remain the Kozyrnaya Karta (Nobu, Non-Stop, Da Vinci Fish Club, Pena et al); the Myrovaya Karta (Golden Gate, Tequila House, Mimino, Sam’s Steak House et al); the Carte Blanche (Concord, Marokana, Decadence House, Taboo Lounge) and Pees Boy Club (Le Cosmopolite, Belle Vue, The Wall and Bierloga).
All the places mentioned above offer a standard 10% discount to start, but while it takes mere minutes to fill out the application and get the Kozyrnaya Karta and Myrovaya Karta cards (which are good at dozens of local restaurants, clubs and other businesses in the city), for the Pees Boy Club and Carte Blanche groups it’s not uncommon to wait six months to receive your card, though in the interim Carte Blanche will take advantage of your contact details to spam you to death. Once you’ve signed up and gotten your card, keep an eye out around your birthday for mail from any one of the restaurant groups from which you hold a discount card. They might, as in the case of the Myrovaya Karta group, just give you a special discount of up to 25 percent for use on your special day.
On the go2kiev.com website, note that in the restaurant section they have the column marked “Discount.” Underneath it abbreviations such as “KK,” MK” and others refer to some of the many restaurant groups in the city. Look on the right hand side of the page, scrolling up or down as needed, to find the legend with the names of some of the city’s most prominent restaurant discount cards. Then, with card in hand, choosing where to dine out in Kyiv becomes only slightly easier, but at least it does take some of the edge off having to pay the cost of the meal wherever you go.