Tales from the Restaurant

Tales from the Restaurant
Where you'll find all the restaurant dirt you'll ever need.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Importance of Saving Bacon

You’ve probably been to a restaurant at some point in your life. If you haven’t, then one item on this list is true about you;

A) You’re a liar
B) You’re bedridden
C) You have no knowledge of the order/eat/pay/leave process
D) You’re indefinitely imprisoned against your will

I had the pleasure of waiting on a fellow a few weeks ago who I felt embraced the letter ‘C‘ on the above list. He was a gentleman in his late fifties who came in with his eight-year-old son.

Everything was going normally. The older gentleman asked me to add some crushed bacon onto his salad, so I obliged him. I pressed the button on the terminal for ‘bacon,’ and thought nothing of it until I handed him his check. He summoned me over.

Him; “I didn’t know the bacon was going to be three extra dollars.”

I had never rung it up before, so I responded somewhat innocuously.

Me; “I didn’t either."

Nobody had ever asked me for it.

Thinking that would be the end of it, I started walking away. He held out a hand to stop me, and motioned for me to take the check presenter back. His next question floored me.

Not only had I never before rung up a side of bacon, I’d also never been stunned silent by a diner’s request. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and said to your server,

“I don’t want to pay that much. Can you make my dinner cost less money?”

I’m guessing that if you’ve ever gone out to eat for dinner, you’ve never actually tried to negotiate the final cost with your server. If you have, I’d like to know if it worked.

So I began to rationalize it like this;

If I got his bacon removed from the bill, he might use the extra couple of bucks for tipping me.

If I didn’t remove it from the bill, he might write an angry letter to my boss and get me reprimanded. He might even become irate and use swearing.

Given the infinitesimal amount of money in question, it wasn’t really worth NOT trying. I compromised with nobody in particular and asked my manager to REDUCE the price of the premium-top-notch bacon.

My boss didn’t really care.

Boss; “Maybe he’ll think a dollar is more manageable.”

In most restaurants (including fast food joints), adding bacon costs extra. In a nicer restaurant, it's probably more likely that you'll pay as much for two slices of bacon as a gallon of regular unleaded. At its cheapest, you'd probably pay just as much for a losing lottery ticket. You're essentially choosing what you feel more comfortable gambling with; small bills or a mild heart attack.

So I brought the check to him amended. I let him know that the prices of bacon were now “apparently negotiable” and that I hoped that his check was now “more reasonable.” I gave him a smile and a wink.

Apparently satisfied that he saved two dollars, he paid and left.


  1. Well, seeing as most (good) servers tell me when there will be an upcharge for something I requested, I would feel slighted. Granted, in this case you didn't know there was a charge either, so you couldn't have told him beforehand.
    If you had known and told the guy the charge to add bacon, he might have chosen to not add it. In his position, I probably would have asked to have the price reduced or the bacon removed from the tab, too. Why?

    Had I known there was an additional charge I would have then had the choice of not ordering it. Because I wasn't aware of the price until the bill came, I didn't have the option to not order the bacon because of the additional cost. I would be wiser for next time of course, but that's kind of like the lube guy asking if you want them to clean your tires, you saying, "Sure," and seeing a $15 charge on your bill. What the fuck, man? If you're going to charge me it's good business to tell me beforehand if I'm incurring additional costs.

    I'm not ragging on you for it, because you weren't aware that the bacon cost extra, but merely pointing out that, in this case, I don't think the guy's request was unreasonable. I don't side with the customer often, but...this is one time I agree with the customer. Sorry, dude.

  2. I am going to disagree with FMT here. You could argue that a guest might not know that there is a charge for an extra side of ranch, but not bacon. Bacon isn't cheap. It's a protein for christ's sake. You wouldn't ask for a a chicken breast to be added to a side salad and not expect to be charged for it. I think that there is a fine line between pointing it out to the guest and insulting the guest's intelligence. Directly pointing out that there is a charge for bacon falls to the latter end of the spectrum.

    Now $3 is high, but that is probably meant to pay for adding 3-4 slices on to a sandwich or burger. If they were concerned about price, that is best addressed in advance.

  3. I have to agree with David on this. Bacon is not a side of ranch or an extra lemon slice - things cost money - and any one who grocery shops knows this.

    It was unfortunate that you didn't know that, but even if you did the assumption is there that meat costs money. And yes - 3 dollars is a little steep for a salad with crumbles, but a charge is in order and he shouldn't have been surprised by the charge but I can understand the shock at the $3.

    I love your line "Neither did I." Sounds like something I would've said - but my guests would have gotten mad that I didn't.

  4. @FMT -- I think it really depends on the kind of restaurant you're going to. If I go to a diner, and I'm buying a $5 hamburger and adding bacon is $2-3... they should tell you. Those couple of dollars are a high percentage of the meal. However, the restaurant the writer is referring to is fine dining. If I'm at a fine dining restaurant-- I sort of expect everything I ask for to be charged to me in some way. If something is not included in the meal and not a substitute for something else, why would it be free? If the customer cares so much about the price, they have every chance to ask if there's an upcharge. It's a little crazy to be upset over a couple of dollars when your bill is upwards of $40 or more (that guess is a low average for a 2 person check at a nice restaurant).

  5. Honestly, if you're THAT cheap than maybe you should not be dining out. Bacon is ALWAYS extra, no matter where you go. Just because god gave you the gift of stupidity without your consent doesn't mean that you can ask him to reverse it, or ...that he will. How about you regurgitate your 3 fuckin strips of bacon, and then we'll refund you!
    i admit $3 is a little expensive, but its your fault for not asking! Servers are not chefs, bartenders, slaves,mind readers, wine connoisseurs, AND additional cost experts...some things slip past us!!! If you ask, we can go find out for you.

    xoxoxoxoxoxox rubi

  6. Skippy, actually it is not that high if you use restaurant math.

    Restaurant quality bacon runs between $4-6/ pound and weighs about 1 oz per slice (pre-cooked). Even at $4/pound it breaks down to $.25/slice. 3 slices would be $0.75 cost. If they are trying to run 25% food cost, that would make the price $1 per slice. Keep in mind that is also assuming the low end price. As bacon bits as ordered, at least 3 slices will be needed to yield only 1 oz post cooked weight.

  7. I don't really understand how people can NOT know that ordering extra food will cost more. Sometimes I get complaints about charging people for additional milks or juices. They apparently think we have bottomless refills on everything. This is me explaining the situation to a 5-year-old. "Honey, softdrinks come from a giant bag of cheap, flavored corn syrup. Milk comes from a cow. You know cows, right honey?"

    Nothing is FREE. This is not your house. This is a place of business. Anything you order aside from soup crackers and ketchup will be on your bill. Duh.