Restaurants Cutting Corners: Do Patrons Notice? Oh Yes!

by Anne Maxfield on March 28, 2016

Accidental Locavore Restaurant WorkersDo you notice when restaurants start to cut corners? The Accidental Locavore and my editor started talking about things restaurants do to cut corners, thinking that patrons won’t notice or won’t care. But I don’t think they’ll ever really know, because people simply stop going. It really doesn’t just have to be cutting corners – ask any chef what happens when you change a menu item and you’ll get a quick reaction!

Accidental Locavore Bread BasketThe post in question mentioned that the bread came to the table and was slightly stale, appearing to have been cut before service, so that the waitstaff could just grab it and go. Which makes sense, especially since it was an extremely busy room. As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression and bread is usually that first impression. When your average check is in excess of $100 per person, don’t you think you could hire someone (at $15/hour, please) to slice bread during service? If you needed to monetize that, charge for the bread, like many places are doing. On second thought, don’t!

The restaurant at my golf club is another case in point. When the new owner came in, free refills on soda and iced tea became a thing of the past. Having done financial consulting for a bakery, I know what the costs (and margins) are on drinks, so having to pay an additional $2.00 for another hit of iced tea or  soda is simply ridiculous.

That sort of mean-spiritedness really backfires and shows up in the food. We used to blow through our minimums by the beginning of July and be into the restaurant for a lot of money by the end of the season. Now, we struggle to use it up, because the food is mediocre, and what used to be a pleasant place to hang out loses its charm when the owner is standing around glowering.

A reason that places like Billy Joe’s Ribworks are so successful, is that Jonathan, one of the owners, is always on the prowl. His mission: to give everyone a great time, and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious. You’ll see his staff firing up grills and handing out hot dogs when the spirit moves them. Not that you’d have any room for them since you’ve probably stuffed your face with their great ribs and even better smoked wings! Want a refill on that soda? Not a problem.

Accidental Locavore Billy Joes CrewOwning a restaurant is a tough business, so let’s support local eateries that go the extra mile and don’t try to put one over on their patrons just to save a couple of bucks. It costs them in the long run. What’s your pet peeve about a restaurant’s short cuts?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Maxfield March 29, 2016 at 1:54 pm

And a couple of little things gone awry and you’ll never go back.

Mary @ LOVE the secret ingredient March 29, 2016 at 1:21 pm

It’s the little things that make such a big difference in the experience!

Anne Maxfield March 28, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Agreed! For me chipped cups/mugs make me especially crazy, even at home.

Lynda March 28, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Chipped plates. A prominent North End restaurant in Boston always had great food and service. Last time there, more than half of our party of six had plates & serving dishes that were obviously chipped. I mean chunks gone. Instead of a wait like usual, there were many empty tables. So business was down, and they weren’t replacing broken items. And this happened at a local very pricey Viennese restaurant, too, where reservations are still required. Seriously? Haven’t returned to either place. Kind of spoils the experience wondering if you will be biting into china.

Anne Maxfield March 28, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Must be something about men, mine does too and I hate them! Also chilled salad plates (mostly prevalent at salad bars so you won’t take too much). Also salad bars…
The bread thing sounds totally disgusting!

Bernadette March 28, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Wilting salads, not that I eat them but my husband does… The first and last time I ate at an Italian restaurant in Poughkeepsie, the bread was served with red sauce on the underside. It looked as though it had been taken from another diner’s plate – there’s no other way to describe it.

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