Six friends and I recently went to a fine dining restaurant in Las Vegas for dinner. One of us had received an email about their $39 three-course Summer Menu and it seemed like a good deal so 7 of us decided to go. All of the selections on the Summer Menu were already on the regular menu but the overall savings was about $10 when ordering 3 courses. When we sat down and were presented menus, we did not see the summer menu so we asked our waiter if it was being offered that night. He said that, it was, however, it's was the chef's request that everyone at the table participate. One of our friends is a vegetarian and there were no vegetarian options on the Summer Menu so that mean that the other 6 of us could not order the menu that we had specifically come in for. Our waiter was firm that this was the chef's rule. We even joked that our vegetarian friend would sit at another table. Our waiter tried to reason that all of the items on the Summer Menu were available à la carte and that we could still eat the dishes we wanted to eat, it would just be a few dollars more. He tried to convince us that the Summer Menu was not such a great deal after all.
We finally gave up and just ordered off the regular menu, some of us ordering three courses, and some of us ordering only one or two. In the end, our food bill was less than if they had broken the chef's rule and let just six of us order the Summer Menu. Was this a classic bait and switch or it there a legitimate reason why restaurants impose the rule that everyone at the table must order a prix fixe or tasting menu? Does it have to do with production in the kitchen, division of labor, or timing of service?