To Speak or Not to Speak!

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by durangojo, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. durangojo

    durangojo

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    okay, so here's the scenario...last night's special......'Grilled Organic Scottish Salmon with Mango Ginger Habanero Glaze and Blueberry Mango Salsa'. Served with fresh ramen noodles tossed with sesame, seaweed, edamame and asparagus. With a cup of soup or house salad....Price $35      good seller...a customer upon getting her check asked the waitress if she had made a mistake on the special price...no, no mistake. customer while loving her meal said she would not have ordered the special had she known the price (huh?,just for starters, its organic salmon), and that the waitress never told her the price. she asked the waitress why she didn't.  the waitress with cartoon bubble, says i thought that you would have asked the price if you were interested to know, or if it was a problem? we normally do not give the price with the special unless asked. personally i think it's tacky and takes away from the effect of the special. i want customers to think about the food in the special, not the price. if you want it, what does the price have to do with it?(within certain limits obviously). no one ever asks the price. they know it will be slightly higher than our regular menu items, but reasonable and it will be 'special'. in fact some of our regulars come in just for the specials. i'm not saying i'm right, i'm just saying this is how i do it.. soo, what do you do? do you quote the price with the special? as a customer, do you want to know the price beforehand or are you okay with asking the price if you are interested or is the onus on us to give it?   thanks......happy 4th all....no third degree burns form grillin!

    joey
     
  2. james-italy

    james-italy

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    It was probably worth $45, but I would err on the side of entering tackiness and tell the price with the special.

    Here is a good example why- 

    I was dining out recently with guests and since I was paying the bill, I was ordering the wine as is customary. I ordered a 40euro bottle of wine, the owner came back and said "sorry we are out of that wine but we have a great local wine that you would probably enjoy." I said ok, the region was Fruili and the wines are so-so (I live in Italy) and it never even entered my wine that the price would be more than a few euro more than the Piedmont wine I had ordered. We ended up ordering a total of 3 bottles and when I got the bill they were down for 80 euro each! I was furious. The wine was ok, the food was pretty good, but I will never ever EVER go back because I feel like I was totally screwed. In fact, I will go out of my way to talk about the sleazy owner and how he is only interested in making a quick buck (euro). I know I should have asked the price of the wine, but "I" did not want to seem tacky in front of my guests and I feel totally that if it was more than 10% above what I ordered it was obligatory for the owner to inform me discretely.

    If your average entree is $28-35 I would say you could get by without telling the customer first. If your average instead is $20-25 then I am betting they felt a little taken advantage of and you probably should be telling them. And then think about a guy who is on a date with only a limited amount of cash. Do you want him to end up with a credit card that won't go through? I think it's a very bad practice to not tell prices, reminds me of when you would have one menu for the man and another without prices for the lady... that to me is tacky. My wife has more money than me LOL!
     
  3. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Depends....if the specials are in line with the regular menu items, I would say no. If that special is $35 and your menu entrees are much lower, then yes.
     
  4. thetincook

    thetincook

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    I say list it. Nothing ticks people off more then surprise charges on the bill.

    Personally, I would be much less likely to order an item if the price wasn't listed and I had to ask the server.
     
  5. durangojo

    durangojo

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    thanks for the views.....our specials are not listed..they are verbally conveyed to the tables...our menu average is about $ 28, with filet topping it at $35.....it's not an a la carte menu...soup or salad is included as part of the dinner. i feel as though our specials are always in line with other menu items...i keep it at $35 and under...

    joey
     
  6. jedimind

    jedimind

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    honestly if i have a budget i'll just ask the server about prices i don't see listed...buyer beware...

    for the story about the wine, i feel you pain; i think he should have offered something within a few euro of you're original selection, or presented you with more than one alternative, noting which wines reflected the originals price and the originals taste profiles. he might have given you the one with the closest match in style and taste, but he should keep in mind you made your selection on flavor and price.
     
  7. panini

    panini

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    I usually don't ask the price of a special. If it interests me I will order it. I don't ever expect it to be out of the price range unless it's something

    seasonally priced.Now  Sophie will even ask the price of a soft drink. LOL

    Did your customer say, the price was high, not to mention it was organic salmon?  I would probably have to agree with her./img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif

    It's sort of becoming a trend down here to change the concept of specials. They are taking a menu item and lowering the price.

    They might as well get a neon sign that reads ( Hey this sh_t is goin bad, we need to run it out! )
     
  8. pinkykaz

    pinkykaz

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    Maybe try printing out specials cards for the servers to show the customer as they sit down, explain the items then leave it on the table to them to look at the price and read again if interested. We do that at the place I work and it seems to do quite well, no complaints.
     
  9. rgm2

    rgm2

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    I personally think it tacky and would never say the price when describing the special, however I would think it best to have it written down someplace. If I were in your place however, I would have brought over the menu and asked her to tell me what she would think it should cost based on the other items. I would have charged her that if it made sense, if it didnt I would have given her the meal for free and asked her not to come back again. You have a great business in your neck of the woods and I believe you would not have lost any valued customers... but that's just me. I am a bit reckless I guess.
     
  10. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    There should never be a question in a customers mind, their buying it, they should know the cost. How ever it's done is up to you...........ChefBillyB
     
  11. durangojo

    durangojo

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    as an aside to this, this woman is a friend of mine...an over 25 year friendship...in fact i catered her wedding.....we never have had a problem in the past...ever....and no one has ever complained about the price as i make sure they are in line with our menu prices....it just bothered me that she would even complain knowing me and knowing what goes into a special....maybe she's just having financial problems..tha's the only thing that makes sense....customers are allowed to bring in wine or beer, so they save a bundle as there is no bar bill aside from corkage...so i have to make it up on the food, without gouging...thank you all for your views..interesting chefbillyb...that there should never be a question in a cutomers mind...hmmmm...i agree, but don't you think they would ask if it were a problem? what do you do as a customer, not a chef when you go out, or want said to you regarding the special. personally i don't need to know the price, unless of course its off the wall, which you would kind of know by the ingredients or if something was not in season.....if i want it, i get it....as i said before, i want people to concentrate on the dish and the ingredients, not the price....what does the price have to do with it anyway really?

    joey
     
  12. panini

    panini

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    joey,

    Quote:
    I agree with you.  Although, we have a favorite seafood restaurant that we frequent. They are not cheap. a la carte, mains run 35.++ Fish flown in daily.

    I noticed on my last couple of visits they now have a blackboard type of sign over the raw bar with the specials listed and priced. They also had priced

    their varity of oysters by the half. They always have 6-9 varieties. 

       I'm just wondering if this type of thing is a result of the economy?

    Over the last 15 yrs. we have not priced our cakes that are available in our cases. We are considering doing this now. We were very fortunate, with

    our demographics, hardly anyone asked about price. Are frequent customers are family chefs, assistants or housekeepers.  Now Sophie says a lot

    of people are wanting prices on all the cakes. It's starting to take time away from FOH.

    Like I said, Sophie asks the price of everything she orders in a restaurant. You know, if we are going to drop 150.++. Does it really matter? I usually will tell her that

    we are dining out, not shopping!!!.LOL.

    BTW. I don't want to sound upity. We don't go out to eat that often and I refuse to go to mid-range places. I'm to critical to enjoy it. I prefer to go out less often

    and go to nice places.

    jeff
     
  13. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Why put prices on your menu ???, why make a menu ???? why should the customer "not" know what the cost is ???? the answer is, your informing you customers what you have to offer, a description of the entree and the cost of the meal. I think we take for granted that people know and understand what we, as Chefs, know and understand. Your perception of value and mine may be different...........ChefBillyB..............P.S. I'm just saying, the answer to the question should not come up after the fact..........We sure aren't shy about placing the check on the table, why be shy on informing before hand.
     
    chefetienne likes this.
  14. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    People shop by price more than you think.  Somewhere inside all of use there's a personal price/value ratio beyond which we will not accept.  It always pays to be perfectly honest about everything.  It is your reputation. 

    Next is, think of it as customer feedback.  Your customer is telling you that the price for this particular product is a little too high.   Do not take it personally.  It doesn't matter why she thinks that way, and you shouldn't be making assumptions about your customers like "oh it's a special, you should not have to ask."  You have to accept it as a fact, that the customer thinks it's too much to pay, and adjust accordingly.   Either add value to the product or lower the price.
     
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  15. durangojo

    durangojo

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    i'm not saying the customer should not know the price..i'm not trying to hide anything...i just think it detracts from the whole specialness of the special...that's all..

    joey

    hey rgm2...how ya doing? where are you at regarding Serafina? hope you were able to open my attachment...michael ruhlman on bourdain...'so ya wanna be a chef' is the chapter you need to read since you have the book  Medium Raw....
     
  16. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Nah I don't think it does.  Everything you put on the menu can either help you or hurt you.  Use the price to help you.  It is a very important gauge in knowing what the market will bear.  The more info you get the better.
     
  17. greyeaglem

    greyeaglem

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    It sounds like the customer is from your area and should understand the terminology. Having said that, I think the interpretation of "special" is a regional thing. Supermarkets have "specials" on certain items, and people know that translates into "bargain", so that may be the problem. "Special" in our area implies either a reduced price or something that can be made fast as in "noon special". Our staff also verbally tells the customer what the "specials" are, along with the price. Generally they're "special" because I don't change the menu and these are items that are seasonal. Sometimes it's becasue I got a deal on something and am passing the savings on to the customer. It might be better to call a specially made dish a "featured item" rather than a special. Then there is no confusion regarding what "special" mean.  And yes, you do want the person to focus on the item itself rather than the price, but I feel they still should be told the price after the dish has been described. In most cases, it won't matter, but to some people it might. That's why they say to put your menu prices in either smaller case type, less bold type, or both so people will focus on the item (in bigger and bolder type) and not the price. Plus there's that old saying about if you have to ask how much it is, you can't afford it, so a lot of people feel awkward about asking prices. Sort of like I will have a fit if I hear waitstaff say "Do you need change?" to a customer. I have to explain that it's putting the person on the spot regarding their tip. The person may want to leave a $10 tip but has $12 due in change. If they're with other people, they may feel they'll be viewed as being cheap if they say yes. So we don't put them in that position. Waitstaff are instucted to say "I'll be right back with your change." Then if the customer says to keep it, fine.
     
  18. left4bread

    left4bread

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    Okay, I just have to ask.

    I've heard it said before and I just can't wrap my head around it.

    WTF is "organic" salmon?

    My brain says that it MUST be farmed in inland pools??...  but only in Scotland?

    Sorry for my stupidity, but , well,  ...

    Help me be less stupid.
     
  19. panini

    panini

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    Technically no such anamal here in the states. Most are raised in open water pens. But even if they say there are strict guidelines followed we really don't know what's going on in these nets. They promote that they are fed live food. Nobody says if the food in contaminate free. It just goes on and on. The US doesn't really recognize any organic fish.

    This is just what I know. I might be completely off base.  I have ordered it before and have been thouroughly disappointed.

    pan
     
  20. chefetienne

    chefetienne

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