Sunday, January 3, 2016
The Restaurant Industry is Killing Itself
The two guys in front of me both middle age or a bit older were buying their smokes and lotto when one of them tells the owner-cashier that he is short $3. The owner who knows them says okay you owe me $3 next time. His friend then pays the $3 but while he is doing that the guy who had no money takes a Bic lighter and starts walking around with it. Blatantly just like that. I stared him down and finally I guess feeling a bit guilty starts coming up with some money to pay for the lighter. He paid over $1.50 for it and the two leave with the owner saying to the one don't forget you are on the hook to your friend for $3.
So to rehash this story he claimed he didn't have $3 but while his friend is coughing up his money to cover it he buys a Bic lighter. Good luck I thought trying to get your $3 back.
I was talking to the owner after that and she said earlier in the day a lady came in and got two bacon packs that were on sale. When it came to pay for them she claimed she had no money and had to pay with Visa. So we were both asking ourselves if she had no money why just not stay at home and have toast and coffee. At least not have to go out and buy something. The way I see it she was probably having an egg and really really needed the bacon to go along with it.
These two instances tell me that one, even if you do not have the money it is okay to buy something and expect the store to cover it and in the other case is an extreme example of "I have to have it or else" even if she cannot afford it.
In the restaurant more and more I am seeing people trying to get around without paying for add-ins etc..
In one restaurant we would have a filet with the Bearnaise sauce. If you wanted it with another steak it was a small surcharge like $2. What would happen is someone would order a steak that didn't come with that sauce then when they got the steak they would then ask for it. Then you would run in the kitchen and get it so they can have it while their steak was still hot. If you charged them they would complain about it. But most of the time you would be running someone else's food so they would not get charged for it anyway.
The other night I served a steak with chive butter and as soon as I served it he asked me if we had any peppercorn sauce. I said yes it would take a few minutes. He said alright. He didn't get charged for it as the kitchen just said we will do it. But I think he should have been charged something. He knew he wanted peppercorn sauce he just didn't order it or pay for it.
What I see is people trying all the time to get something for free. Every other table that walks in mentions it is someone's birthday at the table. Why? Because they want something for free. Because the big box restaurants all give away a birthday dessert. Sometimes it is called for. An owner's friend or regulars who come in all the time to eat they deserve something because they spend a fair chunk of money at the establishment throughout the year. But the people who eat out only on their birthday forget about it. Have the cake at home. Bake one!!
This sense of entitlement is killing the industry. If I buy a pair of pants and it cost $19.95 and I show up at the cash short $3 guess what? I cannot buy it. Back on the rack it goes. No questions asked. I don't ask either if it comes with a belt.
The restaurant industry is killing itself slowly and until we all decide at the same time to fix the problem and have people pay for what they order it will only get worse. Maybe at the same time people will learn not to eat out as much and actually learn how to turn a stove on and cook something.
But that is a post for another day...
Radio talk show host of "The Hospitality Industry News Network" and author of "You Only Live Once" about his early years traveling around and working on ships and foreign countries Steven blogs about his thoughts on the restaurant industry as he sees it today.
Check out his web site at www.stevennicolle.com for more information.