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Chain Restaurants (Steakhouses in Particular)


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I read a long article once about restaurant booze costs that really broke down well how much profit is in which drinks (including markup) and what's the best bang for your buck as a customer.  The lowest average markup, still at a huge 341%, was bottled beer.  Still less profitable than soda, though, you're right.

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re: servers

i went to dinner with the wife to a medium-fancy Italian restaurant.  the waiter acted like we were beneath him. when he handed us the wine list, he specifically pointed out the cost, in a very condescending way.  i am usually a fairly generous tipper, but this guy earned his own self-fulfilling prophecy and got a single dollar for his efforts. fuck you, snob.

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3 hours ago, twiztor said:

re: servers

i went to dinner with the wife to a medium-fancy Italian restaurant.  the waiter acted like we were beneath him. when he handed us the wine list, he specifically pointed out the cost, in a very condescending way.  i am usually a fairly generous tipper, but this guy earned his own self-fulfilling prophecy and got a single dollar for his efforts. fuck you, snob.

Exactly.  I tip over 20% almost all the time, but there's always that one time where the server is just an ass, and they get exactly what they're working for.  One time my wife and I wanted to go out but we were really low keying it.  Dressed down (but this place had no dress code), just a drink and an entree each.  We just weren't feeling multiple drinks or apps that day.  The waitress acted like she just knew we were cheap and/or poor, and really treated us badly.  Like you said, self-fulfilling prophecy.  The second best way to get a bad tip is to conduct yourself like you think you will be.

The first best way to get a bad tip?  Work at a restaurant near a church. 

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Oh SHIT, I just stumbled upon this thread while sitting at a Longhorn in CT, having my first in-house meal in a while. I'll definitely contribute more after I catch up on everybody else's contributions!

Edit: I got a burger 'cause I didn't have one on this trip and it was a delicious mess. 

Edited by christopher.annino
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11 minutes ago, christopher.annino said:

Oh SHIT, I just stumbled upon this thread while sitting at a Longhorn in CT, having my first in-house meal in a while. I'll definitely contribute more after I catch up on everybody else's contributions!

Edit: I got a burger 'cause I didn't have one on this trip and it was a delicious mess. 

Did you happen to find an AEW World Title when you were there?

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As for tipping, and boy we do NOT need to relive the tipping thread, but we do takeout Fridays since quarantine started (except now it's every other Friday when my daughter is over since I'm not really eating out) and we would only order from locally owned places. The main one was our favorite brewery that makes delicious grilled cheeses and pastas. They have this spicy brisketwich that is habanero cheddar, provolone, and brisket. Another is Touchdown Cheezus (get it, Touchdown Jesus, Notre Dame...yeah, ok) and it has all kinds of cheeses on it.

Oof, anyway. I miss those foods...But we would tip them and other local places about 50% or more. We felt it was just in our best interest to contribute what we could to keep these places going and for staying open during the shit show and they're all awesome people.

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I love to tip well and I have VERY basic expectations, but I have to agree that being a flagrant fuck is an easy way for somebody to not get a good tip. It's always a bummer when that happens, especially on the road - I do NOT hold back with tips when I'm armed with the company card! Gotta make our company look great haha...

Of course, these days it's almost entirely DoorDash and lemme tell ya, most chain food does not travel well. I recently had some Chili's that took an extra 15 minutes to get to me and it was truly like eating trash. 

Now title belts around here, from what I've seen 😂

Edited by christopher.annino
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On 9/1/2020 at 6:37 PM, Craig H said:

I typically don't like to order steaks when I eat out because I tend to think we cook them perfectly at home. That said, if we're out of town or something then I'll usually get a steak.

This is how I feel, too. When I eat out, I want something that either I can't cook, takes too long, or has too much clean up after. Steak is the easiest, low-prep food you can do at home.

I've got a soft spot for Sizzlers. Mainly because it was always my go-to in Bangkok when I was on a visa trip back when Myanmar was in its dark days and there were like four Western restaurants in the city. The food was always mediocre, but just being able to hit that salad bar with an entree and fill yourself up for 10 bucks was always something to look forward to. It was kind of like McDonalds, I'd crave it for months ahead of time, step off the plane, hammer through a Big Mac meal then leave feeling a bit sick and disappointed with myself.

Fwiw, I still do both of the above whenever in BKK. It's almost nostalgic now.

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14 hours ago, Craig H said:

As for tipping, and boy we do NOT need to relive the tipping thread, but we do takeout Fridays since quarantine started (except now it's every other Friday when my daughter is over since I'm not really eating out) and we would only order from locally owned places. The main one was our favorite brewery that makes delicious grilled cheeses and pastas. They have this spicy brisketwich that is habanero cheddar, provolone, and brisket. Another is Touchdown Cheezus (get it, Touchdown Jesus, Notre Dame...yeah, ok) and it has all kinds of cheeses on it.

Oof, anyway. I miss those foods...But we would tip them and other local places about 50% or more. We felt it was just in our best interest to contribute what we could to keep these places going and for staying open during the shit show and they're all awesome people.

When the pandemic started we were doing this for the most part.  Every Friday we try and get somewhere local and add a couple extra bucks to the tip jar.  It was pretty consistent up until about June when we would sometimes do a chain restaurant or fast food.  But, man, when you find that place that does it right it's hard not to tip extra.  This place right by us makes a killer pizza and their cheesesteaks on fresh Italian bread is just outstanding.  We quickly realized if I had my way I'd go there every week and it'd take quite a bit to get sick of them.  But we did pretty well getting most of the local places around here.

But as mentioned we started slipping and would sometimes do chain restaurants.  And considering we're doing pizza Saturday for All Out we're going to Chili's tomorrow for those damn ribs (and you know the rest)

As for shitty servers if it's just merely bad then not much of a tip for them.  But if they treat us like we're beneath them?  Oh, it's gonna be more than a shitty tip because I won't put up with that.  Thankfully I haven't come across that in quite awhile.

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2 minutes ago, Craig H said:

You mentioning getting food and All Out just reminded me that I made plans awhile ago to go out to dinner and go see Tenet on Saturday. Guess I'll watch All Out when I get home.

Yeah, at first I was thinking Chili's Saturday then realized since we're having a few people over that'd be way more complicated and expensive than I'd prefer it to be.  So tomorrow instead it is.

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In the Outback discussion, I neglected to mention their tremendous chicken Caesar.

On the Caesar tip, if you have a Coal Fire restaurant near you (they're only in MD and VA), their Caesar is amazing.  They pass it through the grill so the lettuce gets an awesome grilled flavor.  I replicated it at home, so we have grilled chicken Caesar a lot around here.

 

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Shit, I was just in Maryland... but we go out there a lot, same with VA. Duly noted. 

I'm an absolute fiend for a good burger, and since I don't like cheese, it's gotta have a good patty and everything else. So many burgers seem to rely heavily on the cheese and let every other ingredient be middling. This is probably why Culver's is my goddamn church - their burgers are great on their own and I'd imagine that everybody else gets a spectacular experience with true Wisconsin cheeses on top. I also give high praise to Steak And Shake, one of the few burger joints that leave me consistently not feeling like crap for a while afterwards. Too bad their locations and menus are so inconsistent. 

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18 hours ago, christopher.annino said:

Shit, I was just in Maryland... but we go out there a lot, same with VA. Duly noted. 

I'm an absolute fiend for a good burger, and since I don't like cheese, it's gotta have a good patty and everything else. So many burgers seem to rely heavily on the cheese and let every other ingredient be middling. This is probably why Culver's is my goddamn church - their burgers are great on their own and I'd imagine that everybody else gets a spectacular experience with true Wisconsin cheeses on top. I also give high praise to Steak And Shake, one of the few burger joints that leave me consistently not feeling like crap for a while afterwards. Too bad their locations and menus are so inconsistent. 

Culver's is definitely the best fast food burger, I just wish their fries were better.

We're getting a Shake Shack in Madison at some point in the near future so I'll be curious to see how they compare.

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I actually love Culver's crinkle cut fries! But yeah I'm sure they're not for everybody, and actually Shake Shack has the same basic thing but more seasoned. Their burgers are very good, though, I absolutely recommend trying them even if they're pricey. 

There's a city or two in AZ that has Culver's, Whataburger, and In-N-Out. I've told my wife that if I'm ever given a few months or weeks to live, that's where I wanna spend my last days 😂

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Culver’s is deeply weird to me. There’s one about five miles from my house. I’ve had their food a few times and liked it. Thing is, I’ve never seen another one anywhere. It’s like the thing went through a wormhole and wound up on south Austin 

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Where I work we used to deliver to all of the Chili's, Applebee's and Friday's in northern Indiana. We lost Chili's, Friday's closed and Applebee's is still our jam. I am very partial to AB's for their Bourbon St Chicken and Shrimp. If I want a steak I go to either Longhorn or Texas Road House and I get the same thing at both places(ground sirloin covered with onions, mushrooms and cheese. TRH calls it "The Roadkill" and I forget what Longhorn call theirs. We also deliver to the local Golden Corral. The amount of food that they go through is astounding. I've eaten there once and it was good, but I'm not really a buffet person. At one time there was a Golden Corral in Holland, MI that failed twice. The first time as a franchise is lasted a little over a year. Then it sat empty for six months and then it reopened as a corporate owned location. It lasted maybe six months this time around before they pulled the plug.

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On 9/2/2020 at 7:10 AM, Technico Support said:

I get the impression that servers really really dislike it if you don't order booze because, since you tip on a percentage of the bill, drinks are a really easy way to pump up the amount you're tipping on without them having to do a whole lot of extra work.

I haven't served in a long while, but this never bothered me. My job was to serve you, no matter what you ordered. And really, tables turned quicker without alcohol involved in my experience, so chances are that unless I was working in a system with strict reservations and no walk-ins, I'd get another table in as a result to make up for whatever extra percentage would've come off the wine or cocktails you didn't order. It all balanced out in the end. A server that focuses more on trying to maximize their tip on a single visit by upselling on things like alcohol, instead of trying to give the customer a good experience so they end up becoming a regular, isn't a very good server in my experience.

On 9/2/2020 at 8:32 AM, Craig H said:

I think where waiters and servers dislike things is if you're a smaller party occupying a larger booth or table because you're impacting how much they're going to make on the next group that comes in.

I would only get annoyed at the host. If you're a party of two sitting at a table that can seat six, unless you demanded to sit there, that's not your fault, that's the host's fault for sitting you there.

I didn't have many pet peeves as a server. Don't intentionally make a mess that you'd be ashamed to clean up yourself, and don't camp at the table, and really, I was fine. Camping took two forms, either paying the check and not leaving (a little post-dinner conversation is understandable, but if you've paid the check and you're still there 20-30 minutes later, you should really consider going), or if I've dropped off the check and people... just don't leave! And they keep wanting refills on their drinks! And they're not paying the check! That used to make me sad.

As far as the thread topic... I stopped eating meat (except for fish) a while ago, but I always did like the bread at Outback. I have friends that always want to go there and they seem to like the steaks but I couldn't honestly tell you anything about them aside from that I like the bread and their caesar salad is pretty filling.

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Just tried the chicken sandwich from Shake Shack, very tasty but incredibly sloppy, I think I got about four solid bites in before the whole thing started to fall apart 🤷

I do miss eating out at restaurants, and even though I know it's more of an option again I'm not really sure how to feel about it, morally. On one hand I am potentially being exposed while also exposing the workers, but on the other hand when I'm in person I can order drinks and that racks up the bill and I can tip accordingly. Doordash has pretty ridiculous delivery fees, all of the apps seem to, and I'd much rather give that money to the establishment and workers directly. 

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Went to Vegas for work a couple of weeks ago and didn't have a rental car or anything. . .government group travel is weird like that. . .so I was kind of limited to what was near the hotel.

Attempted to go to Texas Roadhouse, and when I got there I was told it would be an hour and ten minute wait for a table. So I walked down the street the other direction and got to a Famous Dave's. It was okay-ish. It's not the level of barbecue that you get from your average hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint in the South or anything, but it was still decent enough.

I will say that it was nice, however, to order a meal and not have to shovel it into my face in the car or attempt to get it home before it got cold.

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Texas Roadhouse is one of two restaurants where I've walked out without paying my bill.  This was forever ago, and I don't remember what the problem was, but I do remember they didn't even bother to try charging me.

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58 minutes ago, Gonzo said:

Went to Vegas for work a couple of weeks ago and didn't have a rental car or anything. . .government group travel is weird like that. . .so I was kind of limited to what was near the hotel.

Attempted to go to Texas Roadhouse, and when I got there I was told it would be an hour and ten minute wait for a table. So I walked down the street the other direction and got to a Famous Dave's. It was okay-ish. It's not the level of barbecue that you get from your average hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint in the South or anything, but it was still decent enough.

I will say that it was nice, however, to order a meal and not have to shovel it into my face in the car or attempt to get it home before it got cold.

Oof, Famous Dave's.  I really wanted to like it when they had one by us years ago.  We went a couple times and had our fill of their stuff but it just never felt right to me.  Not long after I went to Andy Nelson's which while not a chain it has some freaking outstanding BBQ.  Never stepped in Dave's since and after a few months of it being busy it grinded to a halt.  It closed up a couple years ago anyway due to some fucked up shit from the guy running that location.  But I guess it beats waiting a long time for Roadhouse.

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Someone sent me a promo code for Applebee's and I legit couldn't even remember the last time I ate at one of those.  I lump them in with Chili's, Friday's, Ruby Tuesday's, etc...all middling places that you end up at in a pinch but never actually seek out.  I got a burger, fries, and rings, my wife got a club sandwich, and the kid got chicken tenders.  We were all pleasantly surprised!   Everything was pretty far above average.  Nice.

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