Entertaining & Etiquette

Restaurant Etiquette

When should a restaurant NOT comp a meal?

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Entertaining & Etiquette 63

When should a restaurant NOT comp a meal?

monkeyrotica | Jul 28, 2009 04:26 AM

I've noticed a few "worst experience ever" threads that share a few similar characteristics:

1. Expectations for the restaurant were set extremely high by other posters ("Best meal ever!").
2. The diner goes on a busy night (usually Friday or Saturday) and complains about crowds OR attentiveness of servers.
3. The diner goes on to complain about how the soup was over/underseasoned or that the salad didn't "knock my socks off." (Is any salad capable of this? We're talking about leaves and dressing, right?)
4. They're either indifferent to the main course (excessively high expectations maybe) OR they order something for which the restaurant isn't well known for (steak usually, or some food at an ethnic restaurant for which that ethnicity isn't really well known for cooking well).
5. Instead of telling the servers immediately, they say they got tired of waiting for the server to show up, then proceed to eat the entire meal because they were hungry.
6. Diner tries to get the meal comped. Sometimes the manager does this grudgingly; sometimes they offer a dessert or drink.
7. Diner claims this as their "worst meal ever."

I'm not doubting the diner had a bad time. I think everyone has had meals that didn't meet expectations. But I have to wonder how much of this is the fault of the restaurant and how much is because of unreasonable expectations perpetuated by other Hounds? Check any thread discussing "Best Restaurant in (insert any city)" and amid all the glowing reviews, there are always a handful of "Worst Meal Ever" or "Most Overrated" posts. Comping meals isn't "free;" the cost of those meals comes out of the restaurant's bottom line and that cost is passed on to every person who dines there. I guess my point is "is the customer really always right?" and if not, should the restaurant comp the meal anyway, even though the diner probably still won't be happy with the experience?

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