As one of the founders and former owners of the Portland Dine Around Club, I read with great interest about the problems of the Nova Star ferry (“Flat July ticket sales and dispute over subsidies cloud Nova Star ferry’s future,” Aug. 5).

In 1989, my wife and I introduced a new concept to Portland-area restaurants. Based on the fact that many times, restaurants have seats unfilled on given nights, we called on restaurants to offer something in the way of a bargain to invite the customer to give them a try.

As I visited restaurant owners, many times it was difficult to convince them that one positive way might be to give something away.

Not only did our plan work, but here we are over 25 years later, and it is still successful. As one owner said to me, “You put bottoms in my empty seats.”

We also struggled in the beginning. Money was also tight for us. But with proper planning, our plan was the way to go and proved that the customer deserves an occasional bargain. Once the offer is tried, customer loyalty follows.

I would suggest that the principals at Nova Star consider something in the way of a two-for-one passage ticket: Buy one, get one.

The cruise company still gets full price on car transportation, two people would still dine in their restaurants. more staterooms would be filled and you’d attract more customers. From that, you build loyalty.

I’ve looked at the cost to sail overnight to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and found it to be too costly. In fact, I have booked a seven-night Caribbean cruise with all meals included for similar money.

Note to Nova Star: Don’t wait for the two countries to bail you out. Do something for yourself, and make your offers more enticing.

Chuck and Diane Stewart