4/10/2012 09:28:00 AM

Service Debates: When Are Requests Unreasonable?

Should six be enough? 
On our recent visit to New York's Monkey Bar, we came away impressed with the solid food and fantastic cocktails. But, a debate arose about the service. Our party of four settled into the dining room, and decided that we wanted to start with some oysters. The menu listed a half dozen for $20, but there were four of us - we didn't want to splurge for the entire (pricey!) dozen, but two bivalve lovers at the table were going to be left with only one oyster to gobble. So, the reasonable thing was to order eight. Or was it? Witness the exchange:

Diner: "We'd like eight oysters, four of the west coast and four of the east coast."
Server: "Oh, eight? Well, we can't really do that. But I can give you a dozen."
Diner: "No, we'd only like eight."
Server: "Well, there's not really a way to ring that into the system. We really can only do six or a dozen."
Other members of the table: "I guess I'll just have one. Just order six."

And six it was. Here's the question: Should this request have been granted or should the diners have gone with the system and ordered the full 12? On the one hand, it seemed like it would have been very easy to just shuck two more oysters, throw them down on the tray and enter an up charge. On the other, requests for changes like this can be annoying, especially if the server has no easy way to charge for the additional grub.

What do you think - was this a reasonable request being shut down, or a case of a customer being difficult? Let us know in the comments!


  1. "There's no way to ring that in the system" AKA "I'm too lazy to deal with that totally reasonable request".

  2. The only unreasonable thing is this scenario is the price for the oysters! Mermaid Inn has $1 east coasters every day at happy hour. You should definitely visit there next time.

  3. So funny! Any server/restaurant worth their service salt would make this happen. Make the customer happy and you (mostly) be rewarded. You can do it if you want to make it happen.

  4. I think the restaurant should have anticipated this scenario and pro-actively listed this on the menu as... Oysters $5 each or 6 for $20...

  5. *Sigh* the reason servers do this is because it takes a lot more time to do than people realize. Restaurants have set prices because they don't want servers changing prices all the time. A server must get it ok'd by management and then wait for them to change the price on the check (if a manager even says it's ok). You are causing every other table in that server's section to now wait while you take up their time. You could also just not be cheap when you dine out.

  6. Oh, or you could pay $40 for those oysters instead of the $20. That way the restaurant can pay for the server's wages when they make 1/3 of minimum wage.

  7. Why not just order the dozen if everyone indeed wanted more than one? It's a pain to get the price changed on a set item, communicate the change to the kitchen/bar, and inconsiderate to make your own rules when dining out--especially in a busy restaurant.