While being a server I have learned some useful tips for going out to eat at a family restaurant. Everyone wants good, quality food. And everyone would like to know ways to save money on the same good, quality food. Here are my 5 tips for saving money when going out to eat.
Read the menu before agreeing to a drink or appetizer.
The server’s job is to suggest menu items in order to increase their add-on score within the restaurant. And servers make their money from tips based off of 15%-20% of the total bill. Because of these two reasons the server is very likely to suggest the most expensive drink and appetizer combination in order to increase the bill total. Always look over the menu if you are unsure if the server’s suggestions are what you truly want.
Make sure drink refills are free.
Too often I see someone order a hand-crafted lemonade or a Boston iced tea. They suck it down in two drinks, and accept every refill offer. Then their eyes bulge out of their head when the bill comes because they assumed there were free refills. Just avoid this entire situation by asking if refills are free. And if your server asks you if you want a refill, it is usually a good indicator that it is not free.
Ask for a lunch menu.
Many restaurants switch from lunch to dinner around 3 o’clock. This means twice the food, and twice the price. If you are like me, lunch portions (and prices) are just fine. Ask for a lunch menu. Any restaurant is unlikely to tell a guest no.
Eat dessert at home, or just opt for a coffee. Restaurant desserts are usually overpriced for portion size any way.
Check bill to see if gratuity was already added.
Most restaurants add a 15%-18% gratuity if you came in with a large group of people (usually more than 7). Check the bill to see if gratuity was already added. And like always, tip what you are comfortable with. If you feel the server deserved more than was added to the check, feel free to add to the gratuity.