I often write about small plates and appetizers because something about small portions seem to throw some restaurants off their game. Here's a scenario that often arises. Customers at a four-top order a single appetizer. The appetizer features only three pieces, and they want a fourth added.
Too often, when a customer asks a server if an additional piece can be added to the plate for a fee, the server gives you a quizzical look and says they're not sure. It's as if you asked them to crack the Da Vinci Code.
I know after some of you read this you'll give me plenty of reasons why it's difficult to add that extra item to the plate. If that's so, then your servers should know that up front. They should also know the additional cost of adding an item to a plate if you're agreeable to such things.
That would immediately put an end to the server saying, “I'll have to check with the kitchen.” Here's an idea: Make that decision ahead of time. It will save both your customers and your servers time.
And for those of you who do have reasons why you can't add an additional slider or a piece of shrimp to the plate, I say don't explain why you can't do it for a customer; instead, figure out how you can. It just doesn't seem like quantum physics to me. I'm not asking you to give the additional item away, just figure out how much extra that item will cost the customer and let your servers know.
And, as I've repeatedly said, if stuff like this annoys the hell out of me as a customer, you can bet it annoys the hell out of a lot of your guests.
Most people have done a ton of hard work throughout the day at their jobs and elsewhere, and they come to your restaurants to enjoy themselves, not problem solve. That, I believe, is your duty — to remove all their cares and worries. It's the essence of superior service.
The recent incident that spurred me to write about this issue turned out to have a happy ending. The server, who did not know if the kitchen could or would add a fourth slider to an appetizer order, returned nearly giddy. “Yes,” she said beaming, “we can add a fourth slider for an additional $3!”
It was such a happy occasion — like the birth of my first daughter — that I almost ordered a bottle of Champagne to celebrate. Almost.
Okay, here's the point in my editorial that has become a favorite sport for some of you: telling me how wrong I can be. Thanks! I already know that. The former Mrs. Sanson filled me in. What I don't know is why some of you can't put an extra item or two or three on a small plate order. Illuminate me. I'd also like to hear from others on how you handle this scenario, particularly the extra fee for adding another piece to an appetizer order. I'll print the best responses on our letters page.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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