My restaurant - my rules?

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We are a small restaurant with an attractive beer garden for the summer months serving rustic, sometimes somewhat creative country fare made from locally produced/reared products. We're located in a rural setting in the heart of a village that is a tourist destination for hikers and day trippers. As a restaurant, we are without competition in the village; aside from us, there are only two basic cafés, two fast food joints and a pub/restaurant that serves cheap, industrially produced rubbish.

That's the situation, here's the problem: We often seem to attract cheapskate customers who come in only for drinks and buy, say, a single starter between two, four or six of them, essentially to buy time at one of our tables. Sometimes, these customers outstay their welcome by waiting for their train when we would otherwise close the restaurant for the afternoon or for the night, other times, they hog tables which we could otherwise fill with customers wishing to eat proper meals. And sometimes it simply pisses me off that they share a starter which at most restaurants round here are 'cross-subsidised' through the main courses, because they tend to be a hard sell. (Many people expect a large main course and will not order starters or desserts. In order to boost starter sales, I offer interesting and often rather expensive items such as smoked trout or organic goat's cheese at attractive prices. This has proved rather successful, but still, only about 20% of our customers order starters.)

In order to counteract the 'cheapskate' problem, I've started adding a one-euro surcharge to all starters ordered singularly, and it clearly states that on the menu. In this way, at least I get a little additional profit on these low-margin items. It angers some customers, others accept it, because ours is the nicest place in town.

You could argue the customer's point - they're thinking 'the restaurant owner should thank us on his bended knees for spending our hard-earned cash at his place rather than frequenting the ugly, smelly burger joint around the corner'. My argument is: 'This is a f***ing restaurant with all the associated overheads, staff, gas, power, you name it, and not a greasy spoon serving budget food to budget customers. If you want great service, outstanding food and clean toilets, order a bloody main course or go somewhere else!'

You could also say 'Yes, but these customers may come back for a proper meal because they liked the place.' Nah, they won't, because cheapskates will be cheapskates. They're the type of customer that will not spend a great deal on food while they're out and about. I know this from experience.

While I'm at it, what about this: Customers call in for a reservation, we squeeze them in because we're almost booked out, and they arrive 20 minutes late. Or 45 minutes early. Happens all the bloody time. For crying out loud, reservations are made not exclusively for the benefit of the customer, but also to avoid mayhem in the kitchen!!! So, if they don't let you know they're running late - how long do you wait before you give their table to someone else????

Or what about this: A couple books a table by phone, the last one available. In the evening, they walk in, are led to their table and start lamenting that they don't like it, they want that six-top over there (which has been reserved by a party of six for the same time, but they haven't arrived yet...). They are told in a friendly, yet firm, manner that this is impossible, so they walk out on us. We could have filled the table several times over by phone before they 'played up', but it remained empty, because we didn't see any more walk-in customers that evening.

Now, I'm aware that some things cannot be avoided. There's nothing you can do about bad manners (no notification if someone's running late or arriving early) or unreasonable requests. But how far would you go in accommodating customers with things that really don't sit well with you? Is it your restaurant and your rules, or do you allow customers to walk all over you, simply because they spend their money at your place and not somebody else's?

I'd be interested in how you guys deal with situations like these.

Cheers,

Recky
 
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A long time ago I was feeling like you seem to feel, so I got out of the business. I've spent most of my career doing something else and don't have those troubles anymore. But I have others.

Regarding your cheapskates... The first thought I had was that your prices are too low and your place isn't "exclusive enough".

Hope you work things out!
 
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Becky,

I can feel the frustration you have. I think maybe the problem you have is you are approaching this from a "craftsman perspective."

Here's the thing... You own your business, and money is the lifeblood of your business, pure and simple. How does tacking on a surcharge to your guests promote your bottom line? Yes, it will punish them for frequenting your place, and maybe you'll win in the short term, but will they come back?

I implore you. Think like an entrepreneur here. What are things you can do to maximize your take?

It's a bit like poker... You are sitting there holding a straight flush right after the flop. You could put all in, but if everyone folds, do you get mad? No... But the question becomes, how do I maximize my value from this hand I hold. It's the same thing here...

So, your customers are cheapskates. So, why are you trying to sell them items they won't buy? Are they nursing their beers? Why are you set up that way? What kind of closing procedure do you have for your checks? Is there a way that you can get them to buy beer and some cheaper snacks that also drive them to drink?

How about enacting a shared table system? It's popular in European restaurants, a communal table that you can put your snackers and drinkers together... Hell, you can even drop down an order of nachos or something to get the ball rolling during times where it gets busy.

Look, honestly, if you are trying to make money off your food and you have the opportunity to drive your drink prices up, you're going about it the wrong way. Think on that for a second... How much contribution does a beer give you compared to a shared starter? How about 3? What's your labour to pour the beer? You make your money on your booze, and the kitchen should drive that.

Don't give up. Just adjust

In your shoes, I'd do something to cater the tapes style crowd. Again, communal tables... Drinks... Every once in a while a free order of something that will make them want to drink. I'd suggest selling, train your wait staff to really push the envelope. Plus, take a look at the closing check procedures... There are subtle things that I would do to either get then to order or to decide to leave. Trust me on this, at a communally driven table, if they are just nursing a beer, it will get uncomfortable fast.

The point is, don't punish your guests because they don't buy into your vision. They are doing you the favor by frequenting your place. Money, money, money... That's your oxygen. If you are pissing your guests off because you are squeezing them for what you deem them to be (and that's a pain in the ass...) then you will be out of business quickly.

Oh, and to address the issue of late arrivals. It happens everywhere. Whoever is doing your bookings has the last say, right? Make a policy that you have x spots for large tables during peak times, no exceptions. That might be 1 large table an hour in a Saturday. No exceptions. Take a credit card deposit on that and explain that for large groups this is the policy. You don't need to charge them for a no show, but it will give them pause when they have to give it. This is an industry standard around here.
 
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Becky,

I can feel the frustration you have. I think maybe the problem you have is you are approaching this from a "craftsman perspective."

Here's the thing... You own your business, and money is the lifeblood of your business, pure and simple. How does tacking on a surcharge to your guests promote your bottom line? Yes, it will punish them for frequenting your place, and maybe you'll win in the short term, but will they come back?

I implore you. Think like an entrepreneur here. What are things you can do to maximize your take?

It's a bit like poker... You are sitting there holding a straight flush right after the flop. You could put all in, but if everyone folds, do you get mad? No... But the question becomes, how do I maximize my value from this hand I hold. It's the same thing here...

So, your customers are cheapskates. So, why are you trying to sell them items they won't buy? Are they nursing their beers? Why are you set up that way? What kind of closing procedure do you have for your checks? Is there a way that you can get them to buy beer and some cheaper snacks that also drive them to drink?

How about enacting a shared table system? It's popular in European restaurants, a communal table that you can put your snackers and drinkers together... Hell, you can even drop down an order of nachos or something to get the ball rolling during times where it gets busy.

Look, honestly, if you are trying to make money off your food and you have the opportunity to drive your drink prices up, you're going about it the wrong way. Think on that for a second... How much contribution does a beer give you compared to a shared starter? How about 3? What's your labour to pour the beer? You make your money on your booze, and the kitchen should drive that.

Don't give up. Just adjust

In your shoes, I'd do something to cater the tapes style crowd. Again, communal tables... Drinks... Every once in a while a free order of something that will make them want to drink. I'd suggest selling, train your wait staff to really push the envelope. Plus, take a look at the closing check procedures... There are subtle things that I would do to either get then to order or to decide to leave. Trust me on this, at a communally driven table, if they are just nursing a beer, it will get uncomfortable fast.

The point is, don't punish your guests because they don't buy into your vision. They are doing you the favor by frequenting your place. Money, money, money... That's your oxygen. If you are pissing your guests off because you are squeezing them for what you deem them to be (and that's a pain in the ass...) then you will be out of business quickly.

Oh, and to address the issue of late arrivals. It happens everywhere. Whoever is doing your bookings has the last say, right? Make a policy that you have x spots for large tables during peak times, no exceptions. That might be 1 large table an hour in a Saturday. No exceptions. Take a credit card deposit on that and explain that for large groups this is the policy. You don't need to charge them for a no show, but it will give them pause when they have to give it. This is an industry standard around here.
This is good advice. 

I'm not 100% sure what the problem is, other than your customers aren't always doing what you want them to. The whole reservation time/being late/asshole stuff is par for the course in any restaurant, so there is no avoiding it, but you seem to know that. 

Your customers aren't spending enough money on food for you to justify them sitting at your tables for X amount of time? Are you actually turning away tables for "cheapskates" or just think you might be?

Do you have a bar? Bar seating? You also said yourself that you are the nicest place in town, so that is probably why so many people want to drink there. People want to drink in nice places. You are the only option. 

There are a LOT of restaurant owners out there who wish they had this problem. Too many of them are standing in the front doorway of their empty restaurant wondering why no one is coming in. You have butts in your seats. I would take what Jason recommended and run with it. Sell them more booze (makes more profit anyways). Offer a "lighter fare" menu full of tapas, snacks, sandwiches, etc. Offer to-go sandwiches for the train ride home. 

This isn't a problem, it's an opportunity. It's all in your outlook. 
 
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Morning everybody,

thanks a lot for your elaborate replies! I do seem to have to clarify a couple of points, however:

Firstly, it's not that most of my customers are cheapskates; the majority are actually diners who specifically come to my place because it is quite unique in its concept, especially for the wider area. Especially on busy days, i.e. when we get swamped by tourists, though, we get these parties of four or more that only want coffee, and when they find out it's a restaurant, they sheepishly order a single starter, or not! - some don't even do that!! Since we only have 27 seats inside and 45 outside, I need every single cover in my place to earn its keep. The other thing to consider is that outside dining hours, there is hardly any business to be had in town, because hikers and such like are known to be cheapskates round here. They often bring their own lunch packs from home. In the first three years I lost a lot of money trying to convince them to use my place for coffees and snacks/light lunches. I couldn't even pay the staff from what I made during those hours. Since then I have geared my restaurant completely towards dining - we are completely about the country dining experience. Wednesdays to Sundays 5:30 pm to 9.00 pm plus Sunday lunches. My restaurant has become incredibly popular since we started doing that. If we were huge, I wouldn't care about the cheapskates, but since we are far too small to fill demand, those table hoggers and coffee nursers really bug me.

Secondly, I don't make more profit on drinks than on food! As far as drinks prices, I compete with other food places in town. I also have a good selection of top regional wines that I sell at attractive prices. It's my philosophy to enable diners to enjoy great wines at affordable prices; since I buy straight from the vineyards, it's feasible, but I obviously don't have NYC or London mark-ups on the wines.

As far as the food is concerned, my profit margins are pretty good, as I tend to work with lesser cuts of meat and turn them into higher-priced menu items - it's country cuisine done well, remember. We also make our own spätzle-type pasta, a long-forgotten local speciality that we rediscovered - another high-profit item. So, I want and need to push the food, not the drinks.

Germans on the whole are quite shy of starters - they're generally used to the one huge plateful of meat, veg and starch. In the past I couldn't give starters or desserts away, but I have since introduced starters you won't find anywhere else, such as heritage vegetable soups, tartar of local smoked trout, salt beef tongue carpaccio etc. My starter sales have gone up from almost zero to about 20%. However, the profit margin on these is fairly small - I sell them all for less than the equivalent of about 12 US dollars. So, again, I need every customer to spend more than six bucks for a coffee and a quarter of a starter!

Thirdly, yes, I'm kind of complaining about customers not doing what I want them to do. I know, it sounds quite unreasonable of me. But what I'm really talking about is steering the customer in the right direction, if that's at all possible. Any business has a set of ground rules, e.g. swimwear cannot be returned, 'please queue here', custom orders require a 50% down payment, etc. Generally, customers do not seem to have a problem with such rules, but in the restaurant business, they seem to think they own you. Maybe this has to do with the European mentality. In the US, almost anyone has worked at a food place at one point or another in their lives. Not so over here. They tend to ask for blood and are quite unwilling to pay for it. They have no idea what they do to you when they arrive 40 minutes early and want feeding straight away. Sometimes it seems like anarchy!

I know it all might sound like the rant of someone who's had enough, but that's not the case. I'm immensely proud of having had the courage to go against the grain, against the trend in this area, and to have started a small, but successful restaurant that's different. Successful enough to expand into the little farm house next door later this year.

And here's a prime example of the cheapskateness I often experience: Two middle-aged ladies with a bit of a (wannabe) artistic 'air' arrive 20 minutes late to occupy their pre-booked table, order a mineral water and a herbal tea (the two cheapest drinks on the menu) and two plates of pasta (the two cheapest main courses on the menu). When asked for a second round of drinks, only one of them orders, this time a cup of hot water (for which we wouldn't normally charge anything). But as the waiter clears the table, she asks for the slice of lemon and the jar of honey (unused from her previous tea) to be left behind for her hot water. Waiter tells me in disbelief, and that's when I decide to charge her a f***ìng euro. We are a business, for chrissakes, we don't give away things, unless WE decide to!!! Of course, the two ladies were the last to leave, after I pulled the plug on the music. At least they had full meals...

To keep this thread both constructive and entertaining, please contribute your cheapskate experiences as well as your experiences of how your lead your customers to stay within the ground rules of your business.

Thanks a lot,

Recky
 
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To keep this thread both constructive and entertaining, please contribute your cheapskate experiences as well as your experiences of how your lead your customers to stay within the ground rules of your business.

Thanks a lot,

Recky
The Friday happy hour school teachers.

Sometimes there would be such a crowd that we had to push 2-3 6 tops together and call for extra chairs from dining room.

They all ordered (PITA) frozen drinks (um lady that Pina Colada isn't doing anything for your jean size ;-) or dollar well drinks (that dates me lol) then nurse them for a couple of hours while gobbling up 3 days of my food cost allowance.

Plus they rarely tipped.

My regular professionals (and their lady friends ;-) who drank top shelf booze and tipped me nicely would be noticeably absent when the teachers were there.

So I switched the Friday freebies to tortilla chips and salsa (switched the usual $$$ bar kibble to mini pretzels as well) and pushed apps from the dining room.

Took a few weeks but they moved on.

@Recky  maybe you should up your drink prices (booze and desserts should be almost pure profit).

The serious diner doesn't care if his scotch and soda costs an extra buck (or his coffee for that matter).

If those hikers are as cheap as you say they WILL care and either grace the other places with their presence or pack a couple of beers in the backpack (along with the PB&J sammie lol).

mimi
 
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Food, customer service and rules don't go together. There's a reason why people are only eating the starters and not the main entree. You can bet your boots there're  eating a larger meal someplace.  I will tell you one thing, there's nothing wrong with the customers. There may be something wrong with the menu. The restaurant business is a never ending tweaking process. You need to get your mind in the right place. The restaurants around you are your neighbors, your customers aren't cheapskates and every cloud you walk on in life isn't cloud 9. Becoming a successful restauranteur takes time and patients. Talk with your customers and find out what they would like to see on your menu. They rule the roost we just maintain the hen house and do whats best for our flock........Good Luck
 
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Food, customer service and rules don't go together. There's a reason why people are only eating the starters and not the main entree. You can bet your boots there're  eating a larger meal someplace.  I will tell you one thing, there's nothing wrong with the customers. There may be something wrong with the menu. The restaurant business is a never ending tweaking process. You need to get your mind in the right place. The restaurants around you are your neighbors, your customers aren't cheapskates and every cloud you walk on in life isn't cloud 9. Becoming a successful restauranteur takes time and patients. Talk with your customers and find out what they would like to see on your menu. They rule the roost we just maintain the hen house and do whats best for our flock........Good Luck
I think you got the wrong end of the stick there, ChefBillyB. While I agree it's a never ending tweaking process, there's nothing wrong with my menu. I know that my cheapskate customers eat a larger meal somewhere else: at home! And I do think some customers simply take the piss; they think they can buy time at your place for a few bucks. Tell you what: I don't buy into the notion that the customer is always right. If they harm your business, you have to get rid of them, not accommodate them. But it's a fine line, and that#s what I'm talking about.

Thanks,

Recky
 
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Plus, just have to add something here..

Your food may look like it's more profitable, but when you look at the contribution you get from your booze sales, unless you are literally giving it away, you'll make profit.

Produce a 20$ meal and you are looking at labour, overhead, inventory, etc... Sell a 20$ bottle of wine and all you are looking at is overhead and inventory.

So, if you "only" make 10$ off that bottle of wine, you make 10$ that isn't touched by laboratory costs, and can be reproduced until you run out of bottles.

Once again, look at strategies to maximize your seating arrangement. If you have cheapskates coming in at set times, you're golden. You at least are privy to this information. Milk them for what they are worth...

I once created a complete finger foods menu. Every item on that menu was designed to drive drink. We didn't offer tap water, it was bottled water sold at a premium price. Couple that with a menu of "cheap items" and we pulled off 550k food sales in two and a half months with an average check of 13$ in food. It was 1.9 Mil complete sales, so you can imagine where the profit cane from.
. We had out cheap people too. So, specials like sangria, a BBQ live action station, and quick selling items.

Once again, you can have all the "rules" you want, but in the end, it's the butt in the seat that determines your business model. If they don't buy into your scheme, you're screwed.

Instead of lamenting you have business, what can you do to milk money?


Oh, and pasta? Why is this a problem? What's your cost for that dish? What is the dish? A pasta pomodoro is cheap, cheap, cheap to produce, and if your cheapskates are going for that, what's the problem?

Perhaps the answer could be a pasta special with wine at a reduced price? A midi express menu? À signature item that's a starter that goes well with pasta?
 
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I think you got the wrong end of the stick there, ChefBillyB. While I agree it's a never ending tweaking process, there's nothing wrong with my menu. I know that my cheapskate customers eat a larger meal somewhere else: at home! And I do think some customers simply take the piss; they think they can buy time at your place for a few bucks. Tell you what: I don't buy into the notion that the customer is always right. If they harm your business, you have to get rid of them, not accommodate them. But it's a fine line, and that#s what I'm talking about.

Thanks,
Recky

Okay, I see what you're trying to say. Here's my question to you...

If they are choosing to eat at home, and not your place, what are you doing to change that? You say there is nothing wrong with your menu, yet complain that your customers are to blame because you can't sell them food, and they would rather eat at home.

Then, something IS wrong with your menu. Because instead of spending money at your place, they choose to eat at home. So, what are you doing to change that? Brainstorm man... Stop letting your ego get in the way of your business. At this point you are thinking like a "chef" and you need to think like an owner.

Sure, the customer isn't always right, but as long as they hold the money in their hands and not your business, they have the final say.

Your goal is to provide value. Give them something they want to part with their hard earned cash. They are not cheapskates, your business isn't set up properly. That's not their fault, it's yours.
 
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Okay, I see what you're trying to say. Here's my question to you...

If they are choosing to eat at home, and not your place, what are you doing to change that? You say there is nothing wrong with your menu, yet complain that your customers are to blame because you can't sell them food, and they would rather eat at home.

Then, something IS wrong with your menu. Because instead of spending money at your place, they choose to eat at home. So, what are you doing to change that? Brainstorm man... Stop letting your ego get in the way of your business. At this point you are thinking like a "chef" and you need to think like an owner.

Sure, the customer isn't always right, but as long as they hold the money in their hands and not your business, they have the final say.

Your goal is to provide value. Give them something they want to part with their hard earned cash. They are not cheapskates, your business isn't set up properly. That's not their fault, it's yours.
 
I think you got the wrong end of the stick there, ChefBillyB. While I agree it's a never ending tweaking process, there's nothing wrong with my menu. I know that my cheapskate customers eat a larger meal somewhere else: at home! And I do think some customers simply take the piss; they think they can buy time at your place for a few bucks. Tell you what: I don't buy into the notion that the customer is always right. If they harm your business, you have to get rid of them, not accommodate them. But it's a fine line, and that#s what I'm talking about.

Thanks,

Recky
Ricky, does your restaurant have a bar and dining room? With the area being a tourist destination is that a factor of people acting the way they are ? Like are they coming to your area, seeing the sights, getting a drink and a small bite before the train leaves ?..........
 
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I think you got the wrong end of the stick there, ChefBillyB. While I agree it's a never ending tweaking process, there's nothing wrong with my menu. I know that my cheapskate customers eat a larger meal somewhere else: at home! And I do think some customers simply take the piss; they think they can buy time at your place for a few bucks. Tell you what: I don't buy into the notion that the customer is always right. If they harm your business, you have to get rid of them, not accommodate them. But it's a fine line, and that#s what I'm talking about.

Thanks,

Recky
" If they harm your business, you have to get rid of them, not accommodate them."

Maybe you should ask your patrons, when booking a reservation or showing up on your doorstep, if they are planning to eat dinner. If they say, "no... coffee and a starter only" then tell them that your restaurant can't accommodate that.  Direct them to the pub/restaurant down the road.  And for God's sake... stop calling them cheapskates... that's really rude even though they may be, but the most important point is that they aren't the kind of clientele you desire.
 
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Okay, I see what you're trying to say. Here's my question to you...

If they are choosing to eat at home, and not your place, what are you doing to change that? You say there is nothing wrong with your menu, yet complain that your customers are to blame because you can't sell them food, and they would rather eat at home.

Then, something IS wrong with your menu. Because instead of spending money at your place, they choose to eat at home. So, what are you doing to change that? Brainstorm man... Stop letting your ego get in the way of your business. At this point you are thinking like a "chef" and you need to think like an owner.

Sure, the customer isn't always right, but as long as they hold the money in their hands and not your business, they have the final say.

Your goal is to provide value. Give them something they want to part with their hard earned cash. They are not cheapskates, your business isn't set up properly. That's not their fault, it's yours.
Welldonechef, my thinking is different. We're in a close-knit community, and there are two fast food joints and two traditional cafés (snacks, sandwiches, cakes and coffee) in the village. I do not want to compete with them, they do not want to compete with me. The cheapskates only turn up at dinner time, when the cafés are closed, and they don't want to sit in the takeaways, surrounded by the smell of French fries. They would take freebies, but they would not buy proper meals. I know, because they don't. Some of them keep coming back, eight, nine, ten times. Short of spiking their drinks with illegal substances or threatening violence, they will not spend their money at my place. They ask for peanuts or pretzels! And I'm not going to sell them peanuts or pretzels! I sell wild boar, veal, game, trout. And at the point that I have reached with my restaurant now, after years of the aforementioned tweaking, I'm not going to dilute my concept to include peanuts and pretzels on my menu. Do you get my point?
 
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Could you sell the guests something they can take on the train? Perhaps low cost biscotti, or knick knacks that you can produce and sell as a door crasher?

Know what'd be awesome? Bags of freshly fried crisps? Street food?

Have you asked any of your guests for feedback via commenting cards? What do your guests have to say about your pricing? The amount of time for service? Average wait time?
 
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Welldonechef, my thinking is different. We're in a close-knit community, and there are two fast food joints and two traditional cafés (snacks, sandwiches, cakes and coffee) in the village. I do not want to compete with them, they do not want to compete with me. The cheapskates only turn up at dinner time, when the cafés are closed , and they don't want to sit in the takeaways, surrounded by the smell of French fries. They would take freebies, but they would not buy proper meals. I know, because they don't. Some of them keep coming back, eight, nine, ten times. Short of spiking their drinks with illegal substances or threatening violence, they will not spend their money at my place. They ask for peanuts or pretzels! And I'm not going to sell them peanuts or pretzels! I sell wild boar, veal, game, trout. And at the point that I have reached with my restaurant now, after years of the aforementioned tweaking, I'm not going to dilute my concept to include peanuts and pretzels on my menu. Do you get my point?
why would you give things away? You're in the business to make money, not give away. That is, unless your free items drives more sales. We would say promo a low cost item at a large communal table to get the ball rolling for drinks, but that's only if they are drinking.

Look, I'm not saying your menu is bad. You said it yourself... You've identified your guests pain point, but are refusing to meet it. That's what I don't get.

No one said you have to open up a fast food joint to compete with the others in town. No one said you need to give anything away.

Hell, your guests are TELLING you what they want, but you call them cheapskates. Me, I don't get it. You don't have to give them pretzels and peanuts, but perhaps it's a good idea to offer them something they will buy. If they aren't buying your boar, Veal, trout, then you aren't providing them with value, so they won't buy.

Now, what could you make that would fit their profile, would solve their problem? They want cheaper snacks, and aren't interested in your boar. But, they come to your place. Hey? You've got an opportunity here. I can name you 10 owners right now that I consult with that WISH they had your problem.

I'm not trying G to take the Piss here... You came looking for a perspective, I'm just trying to give that...
 
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Ricky, does your restaurant have a bar and dining room? With the area being a tourist destination is that a factor of people acting the way they are ? Like are they coming to your area, seeing the sights, getting a drink and a small bite before the train leaves ?..........
You've pretty much hit the nail on the head, ChefBillyB! We get a lot of random business in the summer season, from May to October, multi-day hikers or day trippers from the major cities around. At the same time, we tend to attract quite a few 'new locals', i.e. former city people with a bit of an esoteric air who have moved to the country, because it's better for their soul. It's especially the latter who piss me off the most. These are the cheapskates that I actively try to get rid off, because I feel they abuse my restaurant and my patience. They're the ones that manage to chew on a single green tea for hours, while everybody else has gone home, including the staff. And I just sit there demonstratively, folding kitchen towels...

The random tourists are a different ballgame. My menu often convinces them to stay in the village a little longer and have dinner at my place. Some of them, again, will be cheapskates and share a single starter, but not all. Sometimes, they only come in to wait for the rain to stop before heading off to the station. If we're busy, we won't let them have a table.

We do not have a bar. Inside, it's 10 - 12 tables, about 27 seats, and that's it. We can't be all things to all people.

Cheers,

Recky
 
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why would you give things away? You're in the business to make money, not give away. That is, unless your free items drives more sales. We would say promo a low cost item at a large communal table to get the ball rolling for drinks, but that's only if they are drinking.

Look, I'm not saying your menu is bad. You said it yourself... You've identified your guests pain point, but are refusing to meet it. That's what I don't get.

No one said you have to open up a fast food joint to compete with the others in town. No one said you need to give anything away.

Hell, your guests are TELLING you what they want, but you call them cheapskates. Me, I don't get it. You don't have to give them pretzels and peanuts, but perhaps it's a good idea to offer them something they will buy. If they aren't buying your boar, Veal, trout, then you aren't providing them with value, so they won't buy.

Now, what could you make that would fit their profile, would solve their problem? They want cheaper snacks, and aren't interested in your boar. But, they come to your place. Hey? You've got an opportunity here. I can name you 10 owners right now that I consult with that WISH they had your problem.

I'm not trying G to take the Piss here... You came looking for a perspective, I'm just trying to give that...
Believe it or not, I tried many of the things you mention in the first three years, and lost a lot of money doing it. I tried the snacks, the sandwiches, the 'potages au jour', the omelettes, everything but the kitchen sink, to lure in the cheapskates, sorry, budget-minded customers. They don't want what I can offer. Some frequent my neighbours for sandwiches or fries, others eat at home. You see, I can't afford to be all things to all people. I have to make a certain profit per customer, because we're a restaurant. If I attract all the 'right' customers plus the cheapskates, I can't see this as an additional business opportunity, unless I open an additional room to accommodate their wishes. Because I don't want the cheapskates to hog my valuable and scarce restaurant real estate.

Now, if you're telling me to look at another place dedicated to the budget-minded, I'm all ears... ;)
 
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" If they harm your business, you have to get rid of them, not accommodate them."

Maybe you should ask your patrons, when booking a reservation or showing up on your doorstep, if they are planning to eat dinner. If they say, "no... coffee and a starter only" then tell them that your restaurant can't accommodate that.  Direct them to the pub/restaurant down the road.  And for God's sake... stop calling them cheapskates... that's really rude even though they may be, but the most important point is that they aren't the kind of clientele you desire.
Brian, we often ask them if they're going to have dinner, and one of their stock phrases is 'Well, we're not sure yet, but probably'. That's what I call a piss take. I think this is a problem specific to the tourist destination circumstances in this village, or any tourist destination for that matter.

I know it's rude to call them cheapskates, but they're not listening in here. I keep calling my budget-minded customers cheapskates simply for consistency in this discussion.
 
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Believe it or not, I tried many of the things you mention in the first three years, and lost a lot of money doing it. I tried the snacks, the sandwiches, the 'potages au jour', the omelettes, everything but the kitchen sink, to lure in the cheapskates, sorry, budget-minded customers. They don't want what I can offer. Some frequent my neighbours for sandwiches or fries, others eat at home. You see, I can't afford to be all things to all people. I have to make a certain profit per customer, because we're a restaurant. If I attract all the 'right' customers plus the cheapskates, I can't see this as an additional business opportunity, unless I open an additional room to accommodate their wishes. Because I don't want the cheapskates to hog my valuable and scarce restaurant real estate.

Now, if you're telling me to look at another place dedicated to the budget-minded, I'm all ears... ;)
You know, that might be something to explore. You have an opportunity to solve a pain point, but it's not applicable to your current operations. An additional room would give you that opportunity to "win" on both sides...
 
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Brian, we often ask them if they're going to have dinner, and one of their stock phrases is 'Well, we're not sure yet, but probably'. That's what I call a piss take. I think this is a problem specific to the tourist destination circumstances in this village, or any tourist destination for that matter.

I know it's rude to call them cheapskates, but they're not listening in here. I keep calling my budget-minded customers cheapskates simply for consistency in this discussion.
 'Well, we're not sure yet, but probably"

Host/hostess, "Sorry but I can only seat for dinner at this time. If your looking for a lighter option there's a nice place down the street."

End of problem!  :)

Or... open a separate café-like operation to complement your finer dining restaurant. That seems the natural solution to your dilemma!
 
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