question about servers and downselling

Joined Apr 24, 2011
Hello everyone,

I have a small restaurant but very limited serving experience except helping bus and run some food.

The other day a table of 2 ordered a large fries to start followed by a burger and a wrap. The server told them it would be too much and told them to get a small fry instead... 3 dollar difference and a few ounces. I was a little upset given its slow season etc, and asked for them to never do that. She replied that its part of their job assess the table and stuff, which i understand, but in the situation i didnt think it was warented.

Im not trying to be all about the dollar but i was wondering if i was right in asking her to not do that for those situations? She took it as an attack and we both left upset. My chef mentor at the college told me it is their job to upsell and make money period. I dont think its that clear cut though and i appreciate the care my servers take with the guest. But ya, what is the right response in this situation?

Thanks for any help.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
You own the place, you make the rules.  Obviously it depends on the totality of the circumstances but normally I'd be peeved to see a server downselling.  Maybe for a regular customer you're better off letting her steer them to whatever will be satisfactory for them.  But being a server is a bit like being a telemarketer or collection agent.  The best servers understand how to serve the customer's needs while taking care of the business, too.  Ultimately what's best for the business is usually best for the server (after all the tip is calculated on the total check- cutting the total is going to cut the tip).
Joined Apr 24, 2011
Thanks for your reply,

The server did know them as locals. We have a cozy little 38 seater casual fine dining, .
Joined Mar 3, 2016
I'm not sure I agree.
But that's all about where I work.
We get $22+ per hour, so tips are just that. A thank you.

I always recommend less food if I know that they won't be able to finish it.
My guests appreciate my honesty.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
       All things being equal, your server was correct. It is the servers job to assess the table and steer the customer towards choices that will make their experience most pleasant. She was advocating for a smaller portion, not a less expensive portion. The focus of her effort was on how much they could eat, not how much they could afford. Had she been making the suggestion because it was cheaper, then she would be incorrect.

 ( The exception would be a customer who informs the waitress that they are eager to eat based on the reputation of the place but only have x amount of dollars and would like suggestions on the best way to sample the offerings without spending too much.)

     This still allows for suggesting appetizers, wine, beer or spirits, a dessert.  In a breakfast place, up selling would be suggesting bacon with your eggs, sausage with the pancakes, real maple syrup instead of fake, a glass of orange juice, all things the customer may not have remembered to order but might if it is mentioned.        

     Adding value to the customers experience while increasing revenue is the trick. Adding revenue to the bill for the sake of revenue will leave a bad impression. 


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I have to agree with the last 2 posters. While servers should always be on the look out for an upsell they also need to assess each table, and customer, and do their best to make their dining experience as wonderful as possible.  And, yes, sometimes that means steering someone away from higher end items and towards lower cost options.  Sure it lost you $3 in sales that day, but trust me, if you have servers looking out for their customer's interest, as well as yours, your staff will quickly develop regular clientele which in the long run is going to make you money.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Screwing you and the house would be telling the customers to go down the road the food is cheaper. She did her job, She's honest and did for those customers what she would do for her own family. Customer service is all about doing right by the customer so they have a good experience. I would say she did a great job.........Now man up and give her a day off wth pay!

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