9 Things Restaurant Managers Won’t Tell You
It's nothing nefarious, but most restaurant managers do have a few tricks. Some industry secrets might shock you!
No, we’re not talking about gross secrets like what happens when you send your food back (which, honestly, is nothing—the chefs won’t actually do anything to harm your food). These restaurant tell-alls involve regular restaurant operation, and you might be genuinely surprised by a couple!
Not All Customers Are Treated Equally
A friend of mine works at a fancy restaurant in a large city. They have a VIP list (including regulars, celebs and local chefs). If any of those names pop up on the reservation list, they’ll get the star treatment—a well-positioned table, a surprise appetizer and probably a dessert on the house.
Fancy Menu Items Might Not Be Fancy
Chefs love throwing fancy words onto menu items—but that doesn’t mean that they’re made from scratch. A little known restaurant secret is that not everything is as it seems. Aioli probably means mayonnaise, Chantilly cream could be Reddi-wip and au jus is likely store-bought beef broth.
You Might Get Decaf if You Order Coffee at Night
If you’re lucky, you’ll get an Americano from the espresso machine instead, but most restaurants don’t keep full-caff coffee around late at night. If you order coffee later in the day, they’re probably not brewing a fresh pot and you’re likely getting a cup of decaf. Try ordering green tea or one of these other caffeinated beverages instead.
Specials May Not Be Special
Sometimes, specials are a way to use up a certain ingredient, but that doesn’t mean they’re always a new idea. I worked at a restaurant that ordered a lot of seasonal produce, which was only available long enough for a week’s worth of specials. The first year, I wrote every special anew each week. By year two, I started recycling a lot of old favorites!
Happy Hour is a Marketing Strategy
Everyone loves a good happy hour, but did you know it’s actually a marketing ploy to get you to come in during slow hours? Even though the prices are reduced, restaurant managers are increasing their sales and building up consumer loyalty. And here I thought I was just getting a discount on drinks!
Menus are Designed to Drive Orders
Have you ever wondered why certain menu items are in a box? Or why some menus don’t have currency signs anymore? I even know a chef who purposefully uses a slightly smaller font for the price! Menus are designed to make you focus less on what you’re spending and more on drawing your attention to certain high-profit items.
The Wine List is Out of Order
I’ve known more than a few beverage managers who strategically mark up the wine prices. They know that most people won’t order the least expensive bottle of wine, so they increase the price so it’s the second-least-expensive wine. It’s not any better than the cheapest wine on the list, it just appears to be so.
There’s a Reason Your Plate is So Hot (or Cold)
There’s a golden rule when it comes to food preparation—hot food, hot plate; cold food, cold plate. Most restaurants store salad plates in a refrigerator and entree plates in a warmer. It’s a little thing, but it actually does make the food taste better! One of my colleagues even used to run spoons under hot water before serving soup to make the dish taste hotter.
It’s Okay to Send Food Back
Seriously, it’s okay. We won’t be offended, especially if the food was overcooked, is missing a crucial component or you asked for it without an allergen (and it showed up with it anyway). The worst insult to a restaurant manager (or restaurant owner) is seeing a full plate of uneaten food. Give us the opportunity to make it right instead of just leaving a bad Yelp review later.