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Shouldn't the server at a function tell you if the bar is no-host?

janetofreno | Feb 10, 201110:19 PM

I guess the title pretty much says it all. Tonight I went to an educational lecture, hosted by a particular company. I had received an email inviting me to the"free" event. The invitation mentioned a "social hour" starting at six, followed by dinner and the lecture. I go to a few of these every year, and the standard protocol is to offer a choice of several wines (by the glass) or beer or soft drinks along with dinner. When I arrived at the restaurant (an upscale chain, but not one of the most expensive by any stretch of the imagination) our group was in a meeting room towards the back. There was no bar in the room, but several folks had a glass of wine or soda in their hands. A waitress quickly approached me and asked me if I would like a drink. I asked for a glass of red wine, and she said "is the pinot noir ok?" Sure, fine...back to catching up on the gossip with my colleagues. A few minutes later she returned with my wine; no mention was made of cost and I assumed that as is usual at these events the host was paying for the "social hour" as well as dinner.

After dinner (the standard "chicken or fish" choice of entrees) the waitress returned and left a bill at our table. For a minute I thought "oh, dear, does she not know this is a hosted event?" But then I noticed my colleague next to me had also received a bill. When I opened mine to look at it, I realized that it was for the earlier glass of wine. Not only that, but it was an EXPENSIVE glass of wine: $15 . Now, I've seen the wine list at this particular restaurant before, and that's definitely on the high end (if not the highest) of their wines by the glass.

Shouldn't the waitress have politely said something when I entered such as "there is no hosted bar this evening, but I would be happy to get you a drink if you wish"? Or at the very least could she have said "Our house wine is X, or if you prefer we have a nice pinot noir for $15" I might have settled for water if I thought I was paying for it (really didn't want to drink much, but decided since everyone else was I would have a glass). I certainly didn't want to spend 15 (plus tip) on a glass of wine.

Do you think its worth sending an email to the restaurant? It was a little, um, frugal of the host not to pay for the wine...but maybe its against company policy and times ARE rough around here. So shouldn't the restaurant let me know if that's the case?

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