6 Secrets Restaurants Don't Want You to Know

By David Ning on 5 October 2010 (Updated 4 June 2014) 2 comments
Photo: hagwall

Americans love eating out, and they do it often too. It's not unheard of for someone to eat out more than 10 times every week. Yet this is one area where practice doesn't always make perfect. Below are six secrets that even the typical "eat-out junkie" probably doesn't know. (See also: Restaurant Recipes at Home-Cooked Prices)

Specials are what we want you to order.

It's well known that whatever is on the "recommended" list boosts popularity by another 30%. If the waiters/waitresses push for them, the number goes even higher. Sometimes we want you to order them because that's the tastiest dish, so you will leave a bigger tip. Other times, we push certain dishes because the ingredients are about to expire or the profit margins are the highest. We might try different combinations to up-sell you more food so you will end up paying more, too.

We prepare your food ahead of time.

We want you to come in and get out so the next customer can sit down. In order to do that, we have to prepare as much as possible in advance. Sometimes it includes preparing salads and putting everything in the fridge. Other times it means cooking your food for half the time in the morning so we can finish the rest when you order it at night. If you can't tell, we won't tell.

Some days are just better than others.

Not many fishermen would go out on Sundays, so forget fresh seafood on Mondays. Then there's the head chef, dictating everything around the kitchen...until he's off one day, of course. Eat at the restaurant on that particular day of the week, and you have the best chance of trying out how great our microwave is.

We could be serving a special if you order steak medium well or well done.

A secret to getting rid of steak gone bad is to serve it to customers who order their meat fully cooked. Since the flavor is just about all gone by the time the steak is well done, no one will know the steak was bad in the first place.

You must be nuts to eat those free nuts.

We offer free refills on these, and when you leave, we just fill the bowl up and serve it to the next customer without washing the bowl. Since we can't control who washes their hands after a bathroom visit, you are on your own if you love the free food we give you.

Different customers will pay different prices.

You know that guy over there? He paid less than half you did because he used a Restaurant.com coupon. You will never know, though, and we'll be happy to charge you full price every time you come in, even if you are one of our loyal customers.

If you read all of the above and still become a regular at our restaurant, I know you probably have no other choice but to come, in which case I will probably raise the prices on the menu, too.

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Guest's picture

Well that's just depressing. Whenever I really think about what probably goes on in the back of the kitchen, I don't want to eat out. However, I also love not having to cook once in awhile.

I never take those mints in a bowl either (the ones served with a spoon. You know that not everyone is using that spoon).

Guest's picture
Guest

Where is this... Applebees?

I spent 10 years in the restaurant business and have never done any of those things. Nor have I witnessed them done by restaurants I worked for. Specials are made because they are chef creations that are not on the regular menu. I have never done any hard sell tactics on customers. More money can be made off alcohol than attempting to upsell food. And I suppose if you dined the day the shipment came in for fish that you would get the freshest, but most restaurants go through so much they are receiving shipments almost every day anyway. Otherwise they are serving frozen fish, which will taste the same if it has been frozen for 2 days or 2 months.

Watching too many Kitchen Nightmares episodes? Have you ever even worked at a restaurant? It doesn't sound like it. If so, I feel bad for you as you seem to have worked at a dump. But not all restaurants are created equal...meaning your article is is a useless overgeneralization of the industry.