Editor Mike Sanson questioned in his October editorial — I Want That Extra Slider, Damn It! — why it was often difficult to get an additional item added to an appetizer order. Some of you agreed with him that it should not be a difficult wish to fulfill, while some of you did not. Here are excerpts from some of those letters.
You had me laughing out loud reading your article. I go through that all the time when I am out with guests and we try to taste multiple apps and there are fewer pieces than guests. I definitely don't have this problem of adding-on in my restaurant operation. However, I question if even my staff would be able to provide the price per piece off the top of their head. Computers contain most of the memory in today's restaurant workforce.
Loring De Martini
The Van's Restaurant “on the hill”
This is a no-brainer. Every item on a menu has been costed. Each item costs a certain amount and has a certain mark up. You should never refuse a customer when they make such a simple request. Divide the number of appetizers on the plate by the cost to figure individual price and give the customers what they want. If you don't, there are plenty of restaurant owners out there who will.
I offer three sliders in an order and you have a table of four. You want a fourth. Why don't you just step up and order another plate instead of revamping the menu? Telling someone “No” in this business is the hardest thing you can do, but sometimes there are reasons. Here's one: I take a one-pound patty (regular burger) and divide it into thirds to make three sliders. You want one more? Now I am breaking up two patties. What do I do with the remaining ⅔ of the second patty? You might say give it to an employee. That is not cost. Some of us want to make money.
People think just because the doors are open and the menus are on the table that whatever you concoct in your head can be performed in the kitchen. Sometimes there are reasons why we can't serve a petite New York or fourth slider. Cheap guests who won't order what they need and make the restaurant the bad guy in the scenario are not guests I need coming back.
Rapscallion Seafood House and Bar
We are constantly faced with situations similar to this. Our policy is: Whatever the customer wants or asks for, the customer receives. Our servers all accommodate any request the customer has and then checks with a manager for any price upcharge. The kitchen crew makes any orders that come through the POS system. If they have questions, they check with the server or manager to make sure it is what the customer wants, to make sure it is right. We get requests from slider cheeseburgers to mini bologna sandwiches to extra shrimp instead of chicken on a salad. We have full pages of modifiers on our POS system that help the servers enter the orders quickly and check with a manager for price adjustments so the orders get to the kitchen in a timely manner. In any situation, the server tells the customer, you may have whatever you like, there may be upcharges, the customer is very receptive to the servers' knowledge and happy they can get what they ask for and want.
JJ Bridjes Restaurant
Clarks Summit, PA
Your article has a unique style of humor and I will use it in my meetings with my team. I agree completely with your comment about server knowledge, but with an extensive menu, it's hard to train on additional fees. My direction to the sales team is driven by “Yes I can,” and prices for extra items can be generated quickly.
Adam “Bomb” Modrow
Pleasant Prairie Chancery
Pleasant Prairie, WI
Your cavalier attempt at minimizing the difficulty of modifications indicates that you either have never run an operation, or have forgotten the 1,000-cover nights out of a space that seats 120 people. If you operate to the best of your ability, within the operational parameters of your mission, you will positively affect 98 percent of the people who visit you. However, two percent of the population can never be satisfied — no matter what you do! Making an effort outside of the normal “above and beyond” that most restaurants try to do to satisfy the two percent is counterproductive.
The real answer is most of the time the sliders are preportioned. Taking one out of the pack screws up the count later down the line. Almost always for the customer that orders the last in house, who winds up with two for free because they didn't make the 86 list in time, and the manager felt bad for them. All this so you could have four. I would argue that you buy two orders and take the rest home for later.
Director of Operations
If it's a $7 order of sliders (three to an order), we try to make customers happy so they return, even if we have to make an order of three more. We will give the customer the extra they want, and put the extras out to the staff. What was your cost? Pennies on the dollar. Come on; it's common sense. A return customer pays dividends in this economy.
Dylan's Raw Bar & Grill
Grosse Point Park, MI
After reading your editorial, I just giggled to myself. I have a policy that you can't use the word “no,” in any context, or even “I don't know.” We always find a way to make it happen for the guest. I always advise my servers to say, “Yes, this is what I can do for you.” Some requests are not possible, but never tell the guest that. Just give them other options.
Theresa M. Frey
I do not see any reason why a restaurant can't put another slider or any other item on the plate to accommodate the guest. After all, it's additional sales. We all need it these days. I use your common sense articles to improve my restaurant service and employee training.
Buttercup Grill and Bar
Giving our guests what they want is a no-brainer. Maybe that's why our sales are up and sales at many other restaurants aren't. I don't know. What I do know is, nickel and diming our guests, giving them little or no options or not caring about their input, are all recipes for disaster. Yes, it's a pain in the butt sometimes, but what many owners/managers may not realize is making a guest feel unwelcomed or unappreciated can have lasting effects. Or put another way, consider the lost revenue because you decided it was too much trouble to give your guests what they wanted. Of course, we can't always do that in every situation, but shouldn't that be our goal? It makes no sense to deny what we know we can provide.
Billy Gene Smith
Billy Gene's Restaurant