As someone who has worked in the food industry for over six years, people have been around restaurants enough to notice the little tricks they play in order to get you to like them or at least spend more money with them. Sure, they seem like they’re being clever and that it makes you feel smarter when you spot their little tricks, but let’s be real…you’re not actually any smarter than anyone else and by falling into these tricks, you’re just handing over your hard-earned cash to someone who hasn’t earned it yet.
1) They don’t care about your order
Restaurants may seem clever, but they’re actually not clever. They are acting smart, but they’re still not clever. Restaurants don’t care about your order. They care about the food that you have to order in order for them to make a profit. And since restaurants don’t care about your order, then you should stop caring about what restaurant you go to and just pick the first one that is at eye level. You’re going to get food anyways so it doesn’t really matter which place you choose.
2) They want you in and out as fast as possible
Restaurants want you in and out as fast as possible. They don’t have time for you to be a picky eater or for you to ask for more than one thing. They are not trying to work harder, they are acting smart. They know that if you stay too long then the food will go cold and people will get impatient waiting in line.
Restaurants want your business so they’ll give you lots of options, but they don’t want to act like they care about what your specific preference is because it’s not worth the extra effort. If anything, if given lots of choices people will just order something else because it’s easier to change their mind than make a decision right away when there’s only two options available.
3) The specials are usually the most expensive items
It’s no surprise that the specials are usually the most expensive items on the menu. With a special, customers might expect something extraordinary or out-of-the-ordinary. The prices can be higher because of this expectation, but it also provides an opportunity to make some money off a high margin dish. It is not clever to act smart by trying to charge more for the special than other dishes on the menu and pricing them higher than they should be priced.
4) They use cheap ingredients
Restaurants use cheaper ingredients because they can increase the price of their dishes. They do this to maintain higher profit margins. This is not very clever, but it seems like they are acting smart. It’s a clever way to make money without adding much value. It is also not very environmentally friendly and can have negative health consequences for customers. For example, restaurants will sometimes add artificial flavors that contain large amounts of MSG or high-fructose corn syrup that has been linked to weight gain and diabetes.
5) The house wine is always the cheapest wine
The house wine is always the cheapest wine on the menu, so it seems like a great deal and one you should order! However, the house wine may be more than just cheap wine. Sometimes it is a blend of different wines that are not the best quality. When restaurants have to choose between less expensive wines or more expensive wines, they will choose the cheaper ones because they can get away with charging more for them in order to make up for the lower profit margin. Act smart and don’t fall for this trick! If you’re ordering a bottle of wine and want to save money, ask your waiter if you can see a list of all the wines by type or price range before ordering from them.
6) They give you free bread because they know you’ll be hungry
It’s not clever to give you free bread because they know you’ll be hungry. It’s not clever to give you a water bottle that makes your water taste like it came from the tap. It’s not clever to make their menu hard to read and then have a server describe the options. It’s not clever to have hidden pricing so you don’t know what things cost until after the service is delivered and paid for. It’s not clever to list prices as market price. It’s not clever at all that restaurants are trying so hard to act smart when they’re actually just being greedy.
7) The menu is designed to trick you
The menu is designed to trick you. The menus are designed to confuse customers into thinking they’re getting a better deal than what’s actually on offer. This is because restaurants have started acting smart and realized that humans are programmed to think things like, ‘I’m getting a steak for $7’ rather than ‘I’m getting a steak for $8’. And if we’re being honest, most of the time when you go out to eat, you don’t even bother with the math anyways, so it’s all good. The next time you find yourself at a restaurant and have no idea what anything costs because it’s all in Euros or something – look at the prices and compare them before ordering.
8) They upsell you
They upsell you by adding entrees to your order, or even worse, trying to upgrade the side of fries for an additional $2. That’s not clever, that’s acting smart. They want you to spend more money so they can make more money. They’re not trying to be your best friend and help you make a decision, they’re trying to get more money out of you. When you’re seated at the table, they place drinks on the table and make sure you see them so when it comes time for the check, they know that drinks are included in the bill.