how to not score free grub at a restaurant.

19 Mar

This past Saturday I forgot to wear a low-cut shirt at the door, which is really quite out of character for me. So when a customer asked to talk to the owner because he was unhappy about something, I got really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to quell him with my cleavage and charm, and have to buy him the house.

The guy’s complaint was that his meal took longer to come out than the table next to them, conveniently failing to mention that he had ordered a 4 course meal and the neighbors had 1. He went on to bitch that instead of buying him his appetizer (“which is what he should have done,” according to the gentleman) Manager Ryan simply apologized profusely, explained that we really don’t like to rush our customers and handed him a card for a free appetizer or dessert on his next visit.

This wasn’t good enough for the guy. He needed “the owner’s daughter” (biiig mistake #1) to make an appearance. He needed to tell me that Friday’s would have bought his entire dinner.

“We’re not Friday’s, sir.” I explained. “If we gave away as much food as Friday’s we’d have to go out of business. I do apologize for that, but we’re a small business. Our approach is to make sure you leave with a full stomach and if for some reason there’s a problem, we like to give you incentive to come back so you know it’s merely a fluke. I do hope you’ll come redeem your appetizer, I really recommend the Lettuce Wraps.” I had to really ham it up for the guy because I felt bad for not having exposed breasts he could glance at to make him feel better.

But the man was relentless. He went on about principle. That his wife was now cranky (are we shocked?). That she had to wrap up half her sandwich because she got too full. Maybe I would have given in (not true). But then the irritating Italian man busted out the stereotype that every nice Jewish restaurant girl loves to hear.

“I’m not trying to be a schnorror**. You know what that is? That’s not me.” And that was the end of that convo. I bid him adieu and skipped away to google what produce will be in season for the opening (and closing) night of Hashbrown Harry’s.

**For the gentiles out there:

Shnorror: (shnor-ror) A beggar; someone who always looking for a handout or a free ride; the guy who’s always in the bathroom when the check comes; the person who’s constantly borrowing but never returning; someone who’s continually sponging off others

In honor of the dude who was COMPLETELY UNSUCCESSFUL in getting something for free at my restaurant, here’s a quick guide to how NOT to score free grub.

  1. Treat every restaurant the same. Always take your environment into consideration. At a fast-casual corporate place, (like Friday’s) a simple complaint will probably result in a free entrée at the very least. Even if the complaint is that the air conditioning is blowing on you too hard. An independent restaurant requires a little more pizzaz. The most effective approach in a place like mine is constructive criticism. Painfully honest feedback is good for an after dinner drink, if not a dessert platter.
  2. Be an asshole. Cursing and anger have no place in getting free shit. Telling me that nobody in my restaurant knows what they’re doing, and that the food sucks and you’re never coming back makes me want to say “I DARE YOU TO LIVE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WITHOUT ONE OF OUR PULLED PORK SANDWICHES. THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT, BITCH.”
  3. Say you’re in the business. This particularly applies if you’re sitting at a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night between the hours of 5 and 10. We’re pretty much positive that you’re bluffing and consequently hate you for being a liar. No dice.
  4. Tell me you can eat at a better restaurant but you’re choosing not to. There is literally a 0% chance that I am forcing you to dine with me. I stopped tying people to chairs way before I got married.
  5. Talk down to me until you find out I’m the owner, then be nice. As the owner(‘s daughter) I truly appreciate when customers are nice to my employees. For example, a few of my regular customers shake the busboy’s hand every time they come in. On a busy night, the busboy works harder than anyone, and nobody really pays attention. If I see that you recognize hard work, I’m going to give you calamari and wine. It’s as simple as that.
  6. Tell me I should be buying you a round of drinks because your table was missing a fork when you sat down. We restaurant people recognize it from a mile away when you’re looking for a handout. Complaining about minute details will get you nothing except a bunch of people talking shit about you in the server station. If you’re bitching more than 3 times in a meal, you’re either overdoing it or having a REALLY unfortunate experience. If it’s the former, edit your “complaint script. If it’s the latter, and you didn’t have a manager try to fix the situation (with a SINCERE apology and some free shit) you have my permission to give them a nasty review on Yelp, Google and OpenTable.
  7. Make zero eye contact and tell me that you don’t want anything else, and you don’t want anything for free, you just want the check and to get out of here. I never understand that passive aggressive behavior. If you don’t like something, and you decide to tell the server (which you ALWAYS should because it helps us run our business more efficiently) and we try to replace the meal for you, or figure out how to make you happy, LET US MAKE YOU HAPPY. Sometimes there’s an error in preparation, as we tend to hire human beings and not robots. We didn’t do it to personally insult you. Well, probably.

The moral of the story is, you get more (free)bees with honey.



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