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Hold your sides

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by enrico, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. enrico

    enrico

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    Hi Forum,

    Been a chef for quite a while now and I have always had this debate over the years and wanted to see what everyone else does for this situation.

    When a customer asks for an entree or other menu item but asks to not be be served the normal sides that come with it does anyone here lower the price of the meal? I don't. I ask the servers to try and find something else they might like to go with the meal, but some people are just not that hungry or whatever the case is. Rarely does a customer complain that they were charged the full price but the servers are always asking me if they should deduct something off the bill, I say "No, it was their choice not to get anything else with it. I would be more than happy to send the rest of the plate in a box".

    Curious to see the responses on this situation.

    Thanks everyone!

    Happy cooking.
     
  2. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    Absolutely not.

    I'm assuming you're talking about composed plates? we get that every so often, and like said, try to talk them into whatever side they want for it, but no way we're taking money off because they don't want certain components.
     
  3. twyst

    twyst

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    Absolutely not.   That would be a great way to really screw the pooch on your food cost as the sides of a complete plate are where you are making your money, the margin on your protein is usually pretty low.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
    enrico likes this.
  4. durangojo

    durangojo

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    no chef, i do not deduct or discount. like you, i ask if they would like something else..grain instead of potato, extra veggies if they just don't want the starch(actually i charge for that, but that's another topic). i usually put something else on the plate just cuz it doesn't look right and it's not the way i intended the plate to look....it's not balanced. drives me nuts when the plates are unbalanced!  for example, chicken picatta or scampi without the fettuccine and vegetable saute just looks naked. personally and i know it's a waste of food, but i'd rather the diner just not eat the side. when a server takes a plate out through the dining room other diners see it...you know how that works...diners see a particular dish or dessert go out and all of a sudden the whole dining room is ordering it!  looks sell... period.

    joey

    kind of in the same vein, which i also won't or don't do is if someone doesn't want the sides on a 'special'.  let's say for example i run a 5 spice glazed salmon with plum basil salsa on a bed of mango chile slaw. someone wants no glaze and no cabbage. or they'd like the glazed fish and salsa with mashed potatoes.  sorry, no get-ty.  while i strive to please my customers, i do draw the line when it comes to recomposing my specials....sorry chef if i went off topic here...just seemed to kinda go together...
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  5. cookers

    cookers

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    We don't either. When people can't afford something at our restaurant, they usually get a split meal between two people. Each plate just gets a half size of the full portion and they are charged the same. 
     
  6. durangojo

    durangojo

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    split plates are a pain when it's busy. i am just about at the point of either doing away with them all together and just bringing an extra plate or charging up the ying yang for the split.  maybe the rest of you don't find it bothersome, but i do. it's extra work for everyone, extra dishes to clear and wash, and not worth the extra 7 bucks to split imo.  of course it's nicer for the customer to have their own plate and when it's not busy(first and last tables) i don't mind, but when you're right in the belly of the beast service wise, it's hard. it's made especially difficult when you have a big table(8 or more) and they all want to split or having multiple big tables spliting at the same time.....how do you split a rib eye fairly? who gets one piece of veal marsala and the other 2?  splitting a rare tuna right off the grill...decisions, decisions....

    joey
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  7. chefross

    chefross

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    When I worked cold side at the golf course, the ladies always wanted to have their egg salad sandwich on 2 plates with 2 garnish and chips. After so many requests, I simply placed a second plate under the sandwich and allowed them to take care of it on their own. Eventually they complained about that too You're doomed either way  :)/img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
     
  8. cookers

    cookers

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    I'm really big on presentations.It makes me mad as well when people want to split the plates because they are cheap. I'd rather they just don't come if they can't afford it because it's not their place to be. The other day someone wanted me to split a cowboy steak. So being in a bad mood, I put the bone on one plate, and the steak on the other. I specifically told  the server to give the woman the plate with the bone. That cheered me up a little bit 
     
  9. twyst

    twyst

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    I dont think everyone who splits plates is cheap though.   Back in my FoH days I  did split plates for people drinking a few bottles of wine at $300 a pop, they just were just dieting ><
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  10. cookers

    cookers

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    That's even worse. I would inject butter into their steaks! (not really, although VERY delicious) /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  11. durangojo

    durangojo

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    chef enrico,

    you may get a better(?) response if you post this in the cooking forum thread....the moderators can move this for you if you say 'pretty please'. maybe include from the point of view of the customer, what they expect, what they are bothered by etc.... be forewarned however...and put your tough skinned suit on...they can be sharks!

    while i'm here though, (i hope that i haven't completely hijacked your thread), i'd like to know if this ever comes up with any of you....

    we do not have an a la carte menu, which of course means that the entree comes with either a small house salad or soup du jour.  there are customers who do not want the soup du jour but want a cup of either clam chowder, steak chili or a caesar salad. they don't seem to understand the separate charge and at times become quite indignant over it. their thinking is that since they did not want the soup,  they should be able to substitute the chowder, chili or caesar, or at the very very least, get them discounted...huh?.....no matter how it gets explained or how often, some just don't seem to get it. my view is that including soup or salad is just a nice thing to do...i view it a bit as a loss leader, meant to entice customers into buying the higher priced entrees over just apps, soups or salads. non a la carte restaurants seem to be a thing of the past so it makes us stand out as well...but, i'm begining to lose my patience.....any thoughts?

    joey
     
  12. iceman

    iceman

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    LOL w/ Chefross!   I'm right there with you.    I can picture these women right now.  Retirement community age, at least 50# overweight, handicap equal to their age, 6-hours for 18-holes.  They're also the ones who complain the loudest why does the "beverage person" driving around the cart need to be a pretty female. 
     
  13. michaelga

    michaelga

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    One of the things to do is clearly state on your menu - No Substitutions (and optionally no price reductions for Deletions)  then educate and explain to the servers and FoH and be ready to come out and explain yourself if you get an unruly customer.   (we're a small family place so we do allow people to request no sides etc. but then our food isn't very showy either)  We do hold the line very tight on the no substitutions though...

    You need to get the FoH comfortable with stating sorry but we can't change that as the chef only makes enough baked potatoes to go with the number of cowboy steaks we have for the evening.  Or  enough mango slaw to go with the amount of fish we have available.   Use the we only purchase / store what we can use in a single night etc. to keep our food the freshest.  

    DOn't bother using 'costs' or pricing or markups, margins or other things related to money that just leaves the patron PO'd - keep everything related to food quality, freshness, customer satisfaction, other patrons experience, the chef's desire to present a complete perfect meal etc.

    However all that said - don't prevent a person or table from ordering an entree and asking for an extra plate.  Don't split the meal - send it as composed and let them divide it, for some dishes it is better to send the entree with 2 side plates to transfer food too.

    (sorry for typo's - travelling and the black-berry keyboard sucks.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
    enrico likes this.
  14. durangojo

    durangojo

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    thanks chefMichael,

    check,check, check, check, check, double check to all of your suggestions. 'no substitutions' is stated on the menu and the foh does explain to the tables as well. it's not that the customer doesn't know, it's more that some just want to argue the point...especially afterhaving had a few cocktails, which is never productive.as an aside, i wonder if people know how difficult they can become after a few drinks...especially if they have a problem with their bill? anyway, this has been going on for 20 years. i guess i just find the human condition laughable sometimes.  the length that some will go to to 'conquer' something...anything....even if it's a little victory at a dinner table out. our instincts should be to bring out the best in people, not the worse....tis not always the case...

    joey
     
  15. iceman

    iceman

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    enrico likes this.
  16. rbandu

    rbandu

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    It's actually funny you posted that.  I worked at an oldschool italian place once upon a time and sometimes people would ask if they could have a shrimp scampi.  The owner (80yrs old, still worked on the line) would scream and cuss "It not onna da menu, she canna have it, you tell her to go -------" etc.  So what the server ended up doing was putting in a ticket for a linguine, garlic and oil, add shrimp.  That was perfectly fine.  Granted, it wasn't a scampi, but the people we'd get during the summer months didn't know scampi to save their lives.  Customer left happy, upcharged $8 for the shrimp.  Hah!
     
  17. iceman

    iceman

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    I don't know. I don't get it. In my place, if someone asks for "no sides", I say "OKEY-DOAKEY". If they ask, I'll cut them a buck, $1. It's all good in paradise. Simple procedure.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
  18. enrico

    enrico

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    I just wanted to thank everyone for posting their responses. Great discussion and I appreciate everyone taking the time to reply with some very good advice.

    I don't have a problem with splitting plates actually, it makes the customers happy and in these times I need every butt that sits in the place back by next month. If it is really busy, we shy away from that. And of course there are certain dishes I would never split. I run an English Gastropub, so I have large fish and chips and small fish and chips, if you want to split a large fish and chip you are going to buy 2 small fish and chips, conversation over. Simply because we price the large as a more attractive sell).

    I just don't like the idea of "haggling" or "bartering" with customers. Tonight we ran dry pack dayboat scallops and I had so many requests for "one extra scallop and price be damned"! I therefore charged them 5 bucks per scallop (not inappropriate I believe, certainly not for them, maybe for me). So it is funny the mix a place will get on any given day.