Don’t you just love when you see an article on the Internet about restaurants and it’s clear that it was written by someone who has no clue about what it’s like to actually work in one? Such is the case with a story over at Money Talks News. It’s called “Tricks of the Trade: Restaurants” and was written by a woman named Amanda Geronikos who probably worked as a hostess at Red Lobster for four weeks when she was 17 and now she thinks she is an expert on the food and beverage industry. This is not the first time she has been caught spouting useless tips. Several months ago she wrote an article called “7 Ways to Radically Reduce Your Restaurant Checks” which I responded to in a very mature blog post called “How To Pinch a Penny/I’m a Cheap Ho.” Once again, I am forced to educate Ms. Geronikos and point out how fucking obvious her little “tricks of the trade” are to anyone who has half a brain in their head. It’s called the restaurant “business” for a reason. They are there to make money just like any other business.
1. Salty snacks at the bar
Those complimentary pretzels and peanuts weren’t set in front of you as a kind gesture – they’re there so you’ll order more drinks. Salty snacks make you thirsty. End of story.
No shit. I think everyone knows this and doesn’t care. I’d be more concerned about how many fecal mattered fingers went into that bowl of pretzels than how thirsty they’re making me.
2. Menu design
Our eyes have a natural tendency to look at the right side of the menu first, so restaurants usually list their most expensive dishes in that area. Some restaurants put their most expensive items at the top of the menu, so other items look more reasonably priced.
This is called subliminal advertising and is not inherent to the restaurant industry. Why do you think that car at the dealership is listed at $24,999? Because it sounds better than $25,000, that’s why. This is not a trick of the restaurant trade.
3. Lack of dollar signs
Have you noticed more restaurants listing prices without dollar signs? That’s no coincidence. In a Cornell study guests given a menu with only numbers and no dollar signs spent significantly more than those who received a menu with either prices showing a dollar sign or prices written out in words.
Really? In another Cornell study, it was proven that some people are paid to write really stupid articles about restaurants while other people write way better ones for free.
4. Flowery descriptions
Which sounds better: Classic Burger or Tavern-Style Burger with Frizzled Onions and Smoky Barbecue Sauce? According to a six-week field experiment by Cornell, menus that had descriptive or creative food descriptions, rather than items with simple names, increased sales by 27 percent.
I think this is common in plenty of places other than just restaurants. Which one sounds better: “This article was written by Amanda Geronikos” or “This article was written by a clueless tavern-style writer with frizzy hair and smokey barbecue breath?
5. Extremely friendly servers
I’ve personally fallen victim to this, and you probably have too. While dining at a restaurant in Chicago, I met the world’s friendliest server and gave him an exceptionally generous tip (he made it a point to thank me for my kindness). According to a study by Cornell, my behavior was common – customers leave higher tips when their servers personally introduce themselves, crouch beside the table, or ask about your day.
Are you serious? How is this a trick? We are taught form from childhood that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In other words, everyone is nicer to someone when they want something from that person. How is this any different from when the customer is sickeningly sweet to us and then they ask for a free dessert because it’s their birthday? Of course servers are nice to you. We’re not stupid. How much of a tip will we get if we turn off our filter and just say and act how we really feel? Once again. At least your server made a point to thank you for your kindness. Isn’t that what he should do? I don’t see how this is a trick of the restaurant trade when it happens all over the place.
6. The upsell
The servers who grip your wallet with their charisma also pull you in with the classic upsell, and they’re very good at it. That same Chicago server also convinced me that his restaurant had some of the best burgers in the city and persuaded me to buy a premium beer that would pair well with the burger.
That’s your fault, dummy. Upselling is how any business makes money. Ever bought an appliance and they try to sell you that extra added warranty for an extra hundred bucks? Or how about the last time you bought a cell phone? I bet they tried to convince you that you needed to get a text message bundle, didn’t they? It’s called making money for the business. If you ask for vodka, I’m gonna ask if you’d rather have Kettel One or Grey Goose. It’s up to you to say that you want McCormick.
Classical music makes you spend. Mentioned in a Daily Mail article, University of Leicester researchers found that classical music, associated with affluence, encouraged spending at restaurants, while a lack of music caused diners to spend drastically less.
I can’t speak about this because in my restaurant the music that plays is decided by the people who are working. Therefore, every Thursday night at my job, customers get to listen to The Smiths station that I created on Pandora. Classical music making people spend more money on food does make sense now that I think about it because the last time I was at the symphony, I saw people throwing money at the hot dog vendors and eating cotton candy like there was no tomorrow.
8. Package deals
All-you-can-eat specials and buffets appeal to diners looking for a good value. While there may be a discount, restaurants pull out the tricks to get you to eat less. You’ve probably noticed that buffet lines often start with an assortment of low-cost breads and salads to fill you up before you even get to the meat. You might also find uncomfortable chairs that discourage sitting for an extended period of time.
Caveat emptor, lady, caveat emptor. Anyone who eats at a buffet knows that you skip the bread and go right to the prime rib. That is rule #1 for any seasoned all-you-can-eater. If you’re too stupid to know that you’re going to get filled up on rolls even though you’re paying $24.99 (not $25.00), that’s your own fault. And I seriously doubt that any restaurant purposely looks for uncomfortable chairs just so people are less likely to stay for a long time. But That maybe the best idea I have ever heard of.
9. Questionable specials
Specials aren’t always so “special.” In fact, they often include leftover ingredients or food that is set to expire soon. And while there are deals to be had, sometimes specials can cost just
as much as a regular priced meal.
No one expects the special to be cheaper. It’s just something that isn’t normally on the menu. How about you just ask how much it costs before ordering it so you don’t feel like you were taken advantage of? And yes, maybe they are trying to get rid of something in the kitchen so they make it a special. Sorta like when you go to the grocery store and see the chicken breast is on sale but you notice that the expiration date is in two days. Again, not a restaurant trick of the trade, just reality.
10. Forced waiting
Restaurant staff members make you wait so they can divert your attention to the lounge, which is ironically never crowded. Some restaurants bill you for your lounge items separately from your meal, forcing you to tip twice.
Can we say generalization? This does not happen in every restaurant, Amanda. And if they bill you separately, what is the big deal about tipping twice? If you tip 20% on each bill, what difference does it make?
11. Soups and salads trick
Many people often order a soup and salad under the assumption these items are cheaper (and healthier). But they’re not always a good deal. Salad bar items are often marked up more than 350 percent.
Of course restaurants mark up food costs. It’s called “making money.” You think the cost of food in a restaurant should be the same as it costs at the grocery store? Once again, this is not a restaurant thing. You can buy a head of lettuce at the store for pretty cheap or you can pay more for the bag of pre-washed salad or you can go to a restaurant and pay even more for that salad and have it washed, prepared, placed on the plate and brought to you. It all depends on what you want to spend your money on.
I hope you have enjoyed this response to the original article. I would encourage you to go to the site and leave a comment to the writer and let her know that her ideas are unoriginal, over-generalized, baseless and lame. Also, please ask her to keep on writing because every time she publishes something, I know I will have fun ripping it apart.