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How to deal with customers who bring in outside beverages?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

This is probably more an "owner/operator" question than a chef question, but we have a gnawing problem that we can't find a good solution. We're a small breakfast and lunch operation and at least once per week, we piss someone off when we have to tell them they cannot bring their Dunkins/Starbucks/Other coffee into our place for breakfast. We obviously sell coffee and rely on it to help with a meager check average typical to breakfast. (We do serve a quality cup of Joe, to boot) When we ask them to remove the cup, leave it in the car or toss it out, they always get indignant like they have every right to bring their own beverage. I feel like saying, "Did you bring your own eggs and bacon, too" but instead lie, saying it's a Town Board of Health regulation. Doesn't appease them at all. Anyone have a similar issue and if so, how do you deal with it?

 

While I'm at it, another issue is people who bring their own teabags and ask for "hot water" expecting it to be free (when the bag is the least costly aspect of a hot tea service) or the customer who drinks multiple cups of our bottomless cup, and then asks for a to-go cup and lid to pour his last free refill into, taking any small profit margin we had with him out the door.

 

Any Ideas?

post #2 of 16
Suck it up buttercup; Dunkin, Star, Timmie dont kick you out and if they did well jokes on them I would never go back.
post #3 of 16
Oh eat the cost of a to go cup and give it to them for their " timmies" if you dont want to piss them off too bad. This way you get the point across and mYbe bext week they will try your coffee

Why didnt they just eat at Tims, they have hash browns now!!!
post #4 of 16

When I had my restaurant I had on every page of my menu printed  " ANY SUBSTITUTION   ADD  $ 1.50 "

 

You drink your own coffee or soda instead of mine you pay me :peace:

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply
post #5 of 16

I don't think people should bring in other "food/drink" to another establishment IMO. It's a business after all, they are there to make $$. 

post #6 of 16

Big sign,  NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINKS...........TOGO ORDERS .50

post #7 of 16

I agree a sign is your best defense and if someone does bring in outside stuff then point to the sign and kindly ask them to remove their beverage or themselves.

post #8 of 16

Charge corkage?  ;)  

 

But they are still purchasing from you so if you kick them out and they don't come back you're missing out on a few bucks.

 

OTOH if they're just plain cheap then chances are it's not worth the effort, just kick them out.

 

But if your coffee really sucks...

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan View Post

Charge corkage?  wink.gif  

But they are still purchasing from you so if you kick them out and they don't come back you're missing out on a few bucks.

OTOH if they're just plain cheap then chances are it's not worth the effort, just kick them out.

But if your coffee really sucks...
this is what we do here. I take this to mean more like wine and stuff.. I used to charge corkage (hit them on every bottle they open, usually 10) and then a flat rate for wine glasses (usually 5 bucks a head to cover breakage and when nobody breaks a glass you basically make up your loss on a bottle), but for a long time this was illegal in the city I live in, the laws just changed recently to become more lax.
post #10 of 16

This is an issue-albeit a personal one, I guess-that I have with the owners of my restaurant.

 

Our establishment is half restaurant/half hookah bar. We cook for both. There are inconspicuous signs stating "No outside food or drinks".

 

We are surrounded by big burger, big pizza, big sandwich, you know. They allow the customers to come into the lounge with the

competition's products. NO questions asked.

 

For me, this is a question of integrity. If I owned a restaurant, I'd be damned if I allowed my clients to come in with the food from next door.

 

How does an owner reconcile this?

post #11 of 16
Stick to your guns dude!!! Tell every single person AND post a sign "NOTICE:UNFORTUNATELY, LOCAL DEPT. OF HEALTH PROHIBITS BRINGING OUTSIDE FOOD AND BEVERAGES INTO THIS ESTAISHMENT. WE APOLOGISE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. NO EXCEPTIONS,!! THANK YOU.---- Done deal,!!!!.
post #12 of 16
It kinda helps to be sure that there are REAL and FACTUAL health regulations prohibiting what you claim. You're gonna look sorta stupid if someone from the health board is one of those customers bringing in outside food or drink and there are not actually those codes.

Corkage for outside wine is a really nice thing for places with no liquor licenses. Anywhere from $2-$5 is no big deal for wine geeks. They mostly bring in their own stems so there is no need to worry about that. Charging corkage on both wine and glasses also looks bad. Another nice way to go if you do have a liquor license is to openly claim "FREE corkage" on bottles that you do not sell in your establishment. That works well if you have a good wine list and don't overcharge on that wine you carry.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Honestly, I'm surprised at the number of you that replied to 'suck it up" or words to that effect. To me, how is this any different from someone bringing in there own dessert to finish after their meal? We're a breakfast joint. Coffee is an essential part of our profitability and our ability to sustain our business. We go to great lengths to provide a great cup of coffee. We purchase freshly roasted beans from a local roaster down the street. We grind our beans fresh with every pot. We use twice filtered water, and we only use thermal carafes. Our answer is actually akin to "Sorry, health department rules...." But they still get pissed. Not sure a sign will help, and hate greeting my customers with a negative..."No this...No that", but maybe that is the best answer.

 

Thanks for the replies.

post #14 of 16
Sorry @CapeCodChef
I should definitely not said suck it up or called you buttercup. I was in a mood. Not a way to respond.

I do however feel that if someone brings in a cup from outside they should at least be made to put it in a different cup at MY restaurant. Every situation is different. I don't goto the lengths for sourcing roasting and selling coffee and dont rather care where it came from. I drink a pile of coffee but am no connoisseur.

I do not want to alienate any customer or get a rise out of anyone if it can be avoided. Id rather make a sale and have a return customer, who hopefully got the drift the first time when asked to hide their frapicinawhateva.

I have to tell my better half many times not to try that and to finish our coffee before going in to place. Some people just dont get "it", or they dont care to.
post #15 of 16

A couple things... first, how do you feel about say a party of 4, they all get drinks but one guy, who has his own TRAVEL

cup with gawd knows what inside it?

 

If you' re not so touchy about THAT, then  maybe you  can explain to them it's not so much the contents that bother them,

as having a competitor's LOGO proudly displayed in your business. Most people cant think of a valid argument for that one,

and they may start bringing it in a "plain brown package".

 

Regarding the go-cup free-refill thing, another way to slightly level the playing field is to assume that if they're bringing

in Mr Z's beverage cup, they're probably doing the same to them with YOURS. So have your OWN logo on your go cups,

complete with Phone number and a few "plugs". If Mr Z's going to get free ads from yours, you may as well get the same.

 

In general, I think it's usually self defeating to be too anal about things like this. People may not want your beverages,

and if you push it would just drink water anyway. I myself have done this.

 

I might  add that if you're counting on every single paying customer to get YOUR coffee or beverage with their meal in order to

get your desired profit, IMO you may be running it a bit too tight-- have a closer look at your costs....and your waste.

 

Also, , don't be afraid to flaunt what you've  got--and if you DO have great coffee, the quality and prep of which DOES rival SB's

and other competitors, at a better price, don't be afraid to make that KNOWN, right on the menu and signs, IMO.

 

And finally, if you are still having cost vs profit troubles with the coffee, limit it to free refills with meal purchase, allow one

refill free, etc. You can get away with that because you're not Denny's.... yours is specialty coffee.

post #16 of 16

You might have to carefully craft a speech.  The key is in presenting your point of view in a way that will bring them to your side.  Not only will you get the day's sale, but you might gain a long term customer.

 

"Excuse me sir, we prefer you do not bring in outside food and beverages into our establishment.  We pride ourselves on providing a full dining experience for our guests.  We understand that you've already purchased your beverage, but we ask that in future you give us a chance.  We will not disappoint."

 

 

Or something like that.

 

Practice it, don't believe that you can just spout it out the first time it happens.  Test it on staff, have the staff try it, make changes, take criticism from your team and make constructive criticism.

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