Advice Guy

An industry expert answers questions on improving restaurant operations

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Q.

I recently had a disagreement with a guest. Our dinner hours are 5-11 p.m. A couple came in shortly before 11 p.m. when we had already begun breaking down and asked to be seated. The man insisted that we had to seat them because our published hours show we’re open until 11 p.m. The woman seemed mostly embarrassed he was so difficult. He left upset. Was he right?

A.

Like a lot of the questions we address in this column, the problem is a disconnect between expectations.

Q.

Once we have to put calorie counts on our menus, how do we retain those customers? The food hasn’t changed; it is now just awareness.

A.

Menu labeling—for calories in particular—has been around at the municipal level (most notably in New York City) for some time now, and in 2010 federal legislation was prop

Q.

Who is responsible to pay when a customer orders a glass of wine or cocktail, takes a drink, then says they don’t like it? There’s nothing wring with it, they just don’t like it.

A.

In this question, let’s distinguish between right and wrong; good business and bad business.

Q.

We are charged for any and all ticket mistakes: unused butters, extra napkins on tables, food tickets left in window or food taken out of window without a ticket and not separating utensils. Is this legal?

A.

I’ve gotten this question a few times over the years, so it seems time to revisit.

Q.

What is the “ideal” percentage for administration? I was told that administration should represent 5 percent of sales.

A.

Since our piece on

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