questionsdo restaurants where you live have policies like…

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Regardless of if one thinks this is justified or not, I am very pleased that @moondrake used the appropriate response in a free market economy to precieved abuses on the part of a vendor: take one's business elsewhere.

If sufficient numbers of customers view this an being unreasonable and can find a suitable substitution (there is sufficient elasticity in demand for that particular product) they will be forced to change the policy.

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I worked at a place that did something similar with restricting the menu and charging per person. We didn't charge for a party room, but many others do. They are not trying to be rude in restricting the menu. If they are a small/medium sized restaurant it would make sense for them to do this. Raising the price like that though isn't cool. That is a lot of money for them.

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We'll occasionally get the "prix fixe" menu for groups. Yeah we got 40 people coming in on a Wednesday nite. It's way easier on all of us to have a set price, a choice of four entrees, no ups or extras; other than drinks of course. The kitchen is faster, the service is easier, and we're all happier.
We've run into a few of the "other" kind- no more than once.
One place has real good lasagne. So that's all we get. They make huuge trays, we eat them. They make profit, we make pigs. I'm not spending an hour out of three I have avail on a school nite waiting for hurriedly prepared food- or eating junk along the way and just sitting there drinking coffee.

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@bogie21: The problem is when you get 40 orders, all at the same time, with the general expectation that they're going to come out, if not all at once, then with a very short interval between them. This is death for a kitchen. And anyone else in the restaurant is going to have to get in the queue behind these 40 orders (which is treated as a single order for all intents and purposes). I used to deal with this all the time when people would come into our restaurant with 15-20 "to go" orders and it'd bury the kitchen and the people actually sitting in the restaurant would have to wait an extra 20 to 30 minutes for this one large order to get filled. I used to have to tell people we'd serve them but it'd be an hour. That's not good for business.

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I could understand a deposit, but a "party room" fee seems to be a little over the top IMHO. The "Mom and Pop"s more than likely would love to see you at no extra expense, especially with previous notice.

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@ryanwb: Odd, I believe that's where a deposit comes in, usually one large enough to hurt the attendee, but also enough to cover basic costs.

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@Ryanwb I would argue the "wiping the entire kitchen". I would imagine that a larger party would stay longer than your average table. So the kitchen, would in fact, sell less food than normal because they would see fewer customers over all. Assuming that the restaurant would be busy either way.

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I've worked at a place like this and while it seems very anti-customer, they are actually protecting themselves. We would have people call and reserve the dining room months in advance only to have them cancel at the last minute or come with half or fewer people than planned. Not only do we need to buy more food, but we had to have 4 or 5 waiters on hand just for that party. If you don't show up we lose big time. Plus they are turning other potential customers away while preserving your reservation, so there is nothing wrong with both parties having some skin in the game.

Plus huge parties can wipe out the entire kitchen and ruin the meal planning for days, which is why they limited your menuoptions. Go with a place that is set up to handle your gathering

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@mnemosynescall: My town has had the good fortune to have more or less skipped the recession. We've never been a rich town, but between Mexican nationals coming over here to flee the violence and the army base tripling in size over the past couple of years, we are actually having a housing boom. We have only a 1.4% vacancy rate, they are building houses as fast as they can. I know several people who listed their house and sold it for the asking price in less than a week, sometimes for cash when dealing with Mexican nationals. Local businesses in general are doing as well as they ever have. But we have a lot of restaurants. 1,550 in the Yellow Pages, and probably at least that number if not more hole in the wall mom and pop places that don't advertise at all. That's about 1 restaurant per 200 people here. As you might guess, a lot of them don't make it. So it surprises me to see even a well-established place act so foolishly.

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Ah, recession. Their business must be booming if they can afford to drive customers away.

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My wife does this several times a year for her company's luncheons and occasional breakfasts, and it's always- always- at one of the area hotels' restaurants. She encountered games like this a few years ago at the restaurant they were trying use( the retiree's favourite) and went back to using hotels. They just behaved more professionally.

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If they have that policy, they should have told you up front. If I was just called, like you say you were, I'd also not go there. And, I would do as was suggested and leave a review on Yelp/TripAdvisor saying what happened.

I'm sure some places do have policies like this. Or, something similar. Maybe a little extra cost for a room, which maybe covers for an extra staff member to come in. Or, whatever. But, you should be told when you make the reservation, or within 24 hours of doing so.

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I put together a group of 60 people for a dinner a few years back. Chili's was the only place that wouldn't charge me for a "party" deal. They just blocked off half their restaurant and did orders as if we were normal customers. I just made sure that every table tipped at least 20% at the end as a thank you.

You would think, since you are guaranteed to bring them a set amount of customers that they would cut you a break. And if they do a good job, they may have people come back gaining more potential customers. I guess the restaurant business doesn't function that way.

I do get that it is a HUGE flood of orders coming in all at one time, but that's why you call ahead so they know to staff the kitchen a bit heavier that day/night.

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I think many places have policies similar to that, but for WAY less. Think of it as a wedding reception. They're covering gratuity for the waiters, and having extra people on hand. A limited menu choice is pretty common too, it makes it easier on the chefs for the added amount of guests. But I do think the calling you last minute and charging you extra is definitely an issue; probably common practice for that restaurant, right along the lines of bait and switch. This is why you should always sign a contract first when planning an event. Most places I have been to for luncheons just require you to meet a minimum amount of guests for $XX each and will not charge you for using their room if you meet the minimum. I'd say $15-20 each for lunch is fair, when you get to dinner it gets more expensive.

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Wow. I'm glad you didn't give them your business!

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I have heard of places doing this. Whenever you call ahead for a big party, some restaurants have designated "Party rooms" for big groups/ business meetings. To make it extra fancy (expensive) they'll sometimes have select (limited) menus.

I've seen this with a few good/ upscale places. It isn't terribly uncommon. Odd that they would force it on you, though.

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I've never attempted to organize an event like the one you describe but I definitely applaud your decision to go elsewhere. I would also leave a review on Yelp to alert other potential customers of this ridiculous policy.