Archive for September 30th, 2009

Cocktail Menu Insanity

My wife and I enter an upscale restaurant. The door is opened for us, or not, and we’re greeted  warmly as we enter. Perfect. At the hostess stand (it could be a host, of course) we are again welcomed and asked if we have reserved a table. We have not. However a table will be made available to us and although the hostess does not know us, she is happy to see us, and we are delighted to have made her happy. Perfect. The hostess gathers the appropriate menus, points at something on the screen, huddles briefly with others gathered around the stand,  makes eye contact with us again, and explains that “Elaine will seat us”. (Of course, it is not always Elaine, it could be any name but Elaine seems suitable for illustrative purposes.) Perfect.

This is going rather well, don’t you think?

Once seated, we are handed two menus, one for each of us. Perfect. Often we are also handed a single wine list, should we wish to peruse the contents of the restaurant’s cellar (or not). Perfect. Now comes the cocktail list. Possibly including popular beers and wines by the glass, and other drink specials. Or not. And herein lies the insanity.

We are handed just one cocktail list. Note – there are still two of us at the table. Not Perfect.

Let’s recap. What is the most profitable incremental sale the restaurant can make? (Hint: beverages.) What is the first thing the restaurant would like us to order? (Hint: still thinking, “beverages”). What is the first thing the server will ask us. (OK,  after “tap” or “bottled” water.) That’s right – what is our beverage order?

But wait, there are two of us. And we have one beverage list. We are sitting across from each other and cannot both read it at the same time. (I know what you’re thinking and of course we prefer side by side but since that seating preference requires a four-top, our wish is not always granted.) We both like to scrutinize the list and so our ordering is delayed, or we feel rushed and therefore do not allow our selections to be influenced by the drinks’ enchanting descriptions. Or both.

What are the reasons that two persons get two menus, two sets of plates and silverware, two napkins, two chairs, etc. – but just one cocktail menu? Maybe history, or old habits? Because the cocktail menu is embedded in the 20-page 7-pound leather-bound and logo-embossed wine list, and these are expensive to reproduce? Whatever. Let’s get with the program. It’s nearly 2010. Each adult is entitled to their own menu now.

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