All posts by INDUSTRY STANDARD by Marsha Lynch

Gratuitous gratuity

You’re out to dinner at a favorite restaurant with five good friends when you spot a notice in tiny print at the bottom of the menu: “An automatic gratuity of 18 percent will be added to parties of six or more.”

You might be tempted to take umbrage. Perhaps you pride yourself on tipping well. Maybe you regularly tip 20 percent unless service is a disaster. Why would a restaurant, by policy, require you to pay something that is, by definition, a gift to be given at your discretion?
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Run Thanksgiving like a restaurant at home

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? Oh, my — I see a few of you raising your hands. That’s probably because it’s being held at your house, and you remember being up to your elbows in a sink of soapy water at 9 p.m. last year, muttering “Never again. Next year, we’re going out to eat.”
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Let’s go somewhere new tonight

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know; where do you want to eat?”

Familiar scenario? You’re not alone. All too often, we end up dining somewhere we’ve been many times before. Familiarity is soothing. Predictability is comfortable — like an old pair of shoes you love to wear but hope no one scrutinizes too closely.
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In the weeds

A server glides through a packed dining room, projecting calm serenity and competence. She breezes through the door that separates the dining room from the “engine room.” As it swings shut behind her, she is delivered to the heat, clamor and chaos of the kitchen, and her smile drops away. She exclaims, to everyone and no one in particular, “Oh my god — I just got triple-sat! I’m in the weeds!”
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When restaurants attack

It happens to every restaurant patron at some point: disappointment over poor service, a substandard dish or an unpleasant atmosphere. The trick to getting a satisfactory resolution in such situations is twofold. First, attempt to pinpoint the source of the trouble. Second, make your dismay known to the proper parties – that means management.
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Put that recipe down and back away slowly

Recently I overhead a restaurant patron sigh and say, “I wish I could cook like this at home.” Well, guess what? You can!

Busy people can easily get stuck in a culinary rut, churning out the same boring repertoire of dishes at home week after week, that “ho-hum, here we go again” dinner that stares as glumly up from your plate as you do looking down at it. Here are a few easy pointers that might help elevate your home cooking to something more like what you get at your favorite restaurant.
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