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Old 09-06-2008, 09:06 PM   #1
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Why do restaurants do this?

In the recent past I have had several restaurant experiences that IMO diminish from the overall dining.

For example, when dining in an upscale restaurant with somewhat pricey menu, linen tablecloths, napkins; why did my salad dressing come in a plastic cup?

On vacation this past month we had dinner in a seafood restaurant that was located on the water and served very fresh, wonderful fried seafood...but the sauces were served in packets. Why not go the extra and make your own? Is there something I am missing?

I just think these little details are noticed. Am I wrong?

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Old 09-06-2008, 09:13 PM   #2
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they're only wasting $$$. or very, very lazy. or unskilled...
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:26 PM   #3
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It doesn't make sense, as you said, to go to so much trouble and expense, and then serve condiments in disposable plastic or packets. What they don't realize is that it is the little things that stand out. We have found the same in some of the hotels we have stayed at. Most of the places we have stayed on our trip have shampoo and conditioner. Some are in little packets, and some are in bottles. One only had soap and no shampoo. Even though we paid much less for that place, we noticed that omission. Some have had not only the "regular" toiletries, but have had extras like mouth wash, face moisturizers, etc. People notice the little things, and it can be (in fact probably usually is) the little things that make consumers want to come back or go somewhere else.

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Old 09-06-2008, 09:26 PM   #4
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elaine - you have touched on my biggest pet peeve. To go to a wonderful restaurant and not get homemade salad dressings, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and what you speak of...........oh come on...why ISN'T that stuff homemade???? Whew - seriously, that stuff gets me going!

They are wasting SERIOUS money like luvs said and VERY lazy!!!! ...and let's not forget unskilled............and lazy..................
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:30 PM   #5
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Let's just open up our own upscale restaurant and show them how it's done...
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:31 PM   #6
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LOL You reminded me, KE, that I hadn't touched on the sauces, etc. not being made there. The dressings and sauces are part of the meal and should be made there. And if they aren't going to make them, they should at least use serving dishes, rather than packets. Next, they'll start handing you a jar of gravy to pour on your potatoes!

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Old 09-06-2008, 09:32 PM   #7
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Hey elf, pass that bottle of ketchup that doesn't pour, ya know the one you half beat to death that won't cough up a drop, that is til ya hold it up to the light and guess what? all over your face and shirt
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:36 PM   #8
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Hey elf, pass that bottle of ketchup that doesn't pour, ya know the one you half beat to death that won't cough up a drop, that is til ya hold it up to the light and guess what? all over your face and shirt
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I know the VERY one kades - it has happened. You put it down 'cause you gave up and then it burps all over the place!
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:42 PM   #9
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I know the VERY one kades - it has happened. You put it down 'cause you gave up and then it burps all over the place!
That reminds me of something that happened at work a few years ago (another reason for restaurants not to use packets). The school lunch that day came with BBQ sauce. I always shake the packets down so that it doesn't get all over me when I open it. That particular time, though, I shook my BBQ packet down, then I looked at the sweet, quiet girl across from me, with my BBQ sauce all over her white blouse! The stupid packet had a hole it in!

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Old 09-06-2008, 09:43 PM   #10
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Next, they'll start handing you a jar of gravy to pour on your potatoes!
I'd just get up and leave and head to a fast food restaurant. Geez!
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:38 PM   #11
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sometimes the restaurant changes hands keeping the cook and suppliers. the new management will try to cut costs in ways they do not think changes the experience at the table. that and many other reasons. in tampa we had a landmark eatery called the sea breeze. after it changed ownership the same kind of faults showed up. lost the local interest and was dubbed the sleaze breeze by many before going under. i think the answer to your question is greed. people crunching numbers that never crunched down on a fresh fried shrimp in the place before it was in thier hands.
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:04 PM   #12
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sometimes the resturant changes hands keeping the cook and suppliers. the new management will try to cut costs in ways they do not think changes the experience at the table. that and many other reasons. in tampa we had a landmark eatery called the sea breeze. after it changed ownership the same kind of faults showed up. lost the local interest and was dubbed the sleaze breeze by many before going under. i think the answer to your question is greed. people crunching numbers that never crunched down on a fresh fried shrimp in the place before it was in thier hands.
Everyone involved in a restaurant should have to eat there periodically, and experience it the way the average diner does, not with special service.

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Old 09-07-2008, 07:08 AM   #13
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Everyone involved in a restaurant should have to eat there periodically, and experience it the way the average diner does, not with special service.

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Oh, I agree with that, Barb. But then again, who knows what their level of quality dining is outside their working environment. They may take their family to Roy Rogers for a BIG night out. Know what I mean?
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Old 09-07-2008, 07:55 AM   #14
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I asked my daughter who owned a restaurant why anyone would serve dressing in packets. She said it certainly wasn't cutting costs because it's a lot cheaper to make their own dressing than to purchase the packets. Someone has to pay for the packaging. (She made her own.) As for the plastic cups, most people, I am one of them, prefer to have their dressing "on the side" this way controlling the amount of dressing that a salad gets. Not everyone wants the same amount, some want more, most want less.

Just out of curiousity, next time you get this packet or cup, I would ask the waitstaff why they serve their dressing this way. You might be surprised at the answer. BTW, I make all my own salad dressing, never buy it, and it takes only a few minutes so it can't be that it's so time consuming.
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:46 AM   #15
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Oh, I agree with that, Barb. But then again, who knows what their level of quality dining is outside their working environment. They may take their family to Roy Rogers for a BIG night out. Know what I mean?
I thought of that but didn't mention it. As long as it isn't too frequent, it seems it should be covered by the restaurant, especially at a higher priced restaurant that the staff might not normally be able to afford. Just part of quality control.

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Old 09-07-2008, 09:49 AM   #16
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Anything that is served open, like sauce, butter, gravy, etc., must be disposed of after that guest leaves, and cannot be sold to another dining guest.

It might seem chintzy to you, but by offering toppings to you in disposable cups it allows the kitchen staff to simply throw away the remaining product.

I worked at a country club in the mid-1960's and I know just what a squirrel cage goes on behind the big swinging doors. While trying not to appear rushed, we had to bus a table, change the table-cloth, and re-set the table for every party of diners.

Granted, it would be nice if every topping was served in cut-glass. I arrived in Madison, Wisconsin in 1968. I dined at only one restaurant who served food in this fashion.
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:51 AM   #17
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I always thought of packets to be for to go foods. The packets are never as good as the same thing made from scratch. Another reason some places use packets is because the Health Inspector makes them do it for sanitary reasons. I don't even know if you can get creamer for coffee anymore in a little pitcher. Same with butter I think the H I doesn't want these places recycling certain condiments back to another table and another all being touched by many people. Next they will make them give you lemon in in a packet instead of a fresh lemon wedge since those are touched my the server that just cleared a table of dirty plates and so on.
Some allready use lemon packets because they wnat to cut costs but I have always said just ask the customer if they want lemon instead of automatically giving it to them if you want to cut costs.
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Old 09-07-2008, 10:16 AM   #18
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I guess my point on the plastic cup was this. When a restaurant presents itself to attract upscale diners, charging an average price of 30+ a plate with table linens etc. then why the plastic cup? I am not against dressing on the side but it could be in something other than plastic. To me it cheapens the image they seem to want to project. Will I go there again? Yes, just an observation that I made. Would I ask the server why? No need to. I also worked in a family type restaurant. Dressings were served on the side in small dishes. Not cut glass. My thoughts on packets was just simply that the seafood restaurant served great fresh dinners and it certainly would have enhanced the meal with something other than a packet of tartersauce/cocktail sauce. Not to mention you need about 10 of them to get a tablespoon of sauce. If I am eating at fast food, chain restaurants I expect it. Not a problem.

As far as touching goes. Does your server handle your money, dirty dishes? Also probably puts the lemon in your drink, bread in your basket. Just another thought.

And while I am on roll. If I am in a restaurant that I am dropping a couple of hundred on a meal for two, I would expect my cream to come in a little pitcher and tossed after. The prices that I pay must cover something besides a plate of food. I am paying for the whole experience.
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Old 09-07-2008, 10:30 AM   #19
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Elaine, I understand your position--and it's not just restaurants. It's a condition that is in all forms of business.

My Dad was the first one to show me an example. His company, Master Lock, made laminated padlocks, and they used to polish them in the 1940's so they appeared to be one block of steel. To cut costs, they left the layers showing and began advertising as "built like a bank vault door."

Every sportsman knows about pre-1964 rifles, a period when any common Joe could buy what was essentially a hand built rifle. Even Harley-Davidson is going to offer a new frame next year. It's built of hydro-formed pieces which require fewer welds by humans.

Why does it cost a chef 100 bucks or more for me to sharpen a knife? Because my work is done by hand with +4,000 dollars worth of tools. A mechanized machine and buffer goes much faster--more knives per hour. Of course, you get what you pay for.

Here's the salient point. If food was always served as you suggest (requiring mixing, presentation, cost of crockery, cleaning and disposal) you'd be paying 200 dollars for the meal that now costs 100 dollars.

Wolfgang Puck just opened a restaurant like this in Vegas. My wife and SIL have a time-share on the strip. They reiterate that you must "take your wallet."
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Old 09-07-2008, 10:33 AM   #20
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I think it was a good point Elaine. I have no problem with disposable packets/plastic cups in most of the restaurants we go to because they are more casual. But in an upscale restaurant, it would be nice if everything added to the experience.

As far as things like salad dressings, tarter sauce, etc., unless it is a fast food place, it would be nice if they were made there.

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