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May 28, 2008 08:23 PM

Al Gelato - have they always charged for every little thing? [Moved from Los Angeles Board]

I know Al Gelato has its detractors, but I've always enjoyed their pasta. This weekend the hubby and I got some pasta to go. I asked for an extra slice of bread with our order, they charged. I asked for some of the olives and peppers, they charged. I guess I wouldn't have minded so much if I didn't know that those things are always free of charge when I ate in there before. When the guy asked us whether we wanted some parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes with our order, I said no, just because I was afraid that they would charge us for that as well!

So I was wondering whether they've always charged for those things on carryout orders, or if this is something new and they're charging for extra bread, olives and peppers, etc. even when you dine in the restaurant.

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  1. I don't remember them charging for things when I've gotten pasta to go. I haven't been there for awhile, but used to be a regular. When I went regularly, they always gave me extra -- even when I did not order them. I remember once ordering gnocchi and, instead of giving me a single order, they gave me the pasta in a gallon-size ice cream container. That came with an entire loaf of bread. That was a bit extreme, but I typically always got more than I ordered and never for a charge.

    1. Having experience working in food service, for some things, I could choose to charge (although my bosses insisted I always did) or not to. If someone was rude, you'd better believe I was electing to charge. If people were polite, I wouldn't. If I was having a bad day, it could go either way. If it was 7 pm on a Saturday, I'd probably charge. 2 pm on a Tuesday, hell, I'll double your order for free! We're just gonna throw the rest out! As long as you're polite.

      1. Sadly, this might just be a sign that the economic downturn. Things will really hit the fan when Korean joints start scaling back on the banchan, or if Mexican joints charge you for salsa.

        4 Replies
        1. re: SauceSupreme

          one of the reasons i never set foot in a CHIPOTLE restaurant after the first time is that they charged extra for a second scoop of salsa.

            1. re: westsidegal

              that's so bizarre. i've never been charged at any chipotle in l.a. for additional salsa. i usually get two or three scoops, because otherwise their food is a little boring.

            2. re: SauceSupreme

              There is a place here that does, SauceSupreme. They charge for their chips and salsa, can you imagine?

              Meanwhile, there's a better place down the street that doesn't charge.

              Guess which one I go to?

            3. You think that is bad, I was charged $2 for TAP water at Clam King in Manchester NH.

              They called it a "cup charge" ... a PAPER cup mind you.

              3 Replies
                1. re: dolores

                  I had a similar experience at Dunkin Donuts the other day. I ordered two espresso shots over ice, to try to approximate a starbucks americano. DD charges $2.29 for two shots which is a little more than what starbucks charges for this same drink, but DD was more convenient. But then DD wanted to charged me another $1 for a cup of ice. I walked out.

                  1. re: dolores

                    I did not realize until I got the receipt after paying for the meal (you prepay, sit down and they bring the food out and call your number) I looked at the receipt, and I asked "what is this $2 charge saying "cup-lg" she said "oh that is the cup charge... you know, for your large water" I was FUMING, I never went back.

                2. I don't really understand why people think that restaurants should give away food free. There is a cost to the business, sadly rising day by day. Most restaurants print their menus once or twice per year. Then there is an economic downturn, they are being charged higher prices weekly by their produce and food wholesalers, all their non food items that are used daily like takeout containers and napkins, laundry etc.

                  How can they deal with rising prices if they are unable to reprint their menu? Answer is to charge for things they didn't used to. Just my take on it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: smartie

                    >Most restaurants print their menus once or twice per year ...
                    hence the term ... "menu costs" ...

                    Although i dont really agree with the rest of the analysis. refinancing a
                    mortgage is also a PITA, but at some point it is rational to do so. at some
                    point whether due to inflation or a price shock in some input good -- wheat,
                    rice, milk -- it's worth biting the bullet to reprint menus.

                    in fact the strategy you suggest doesnt make sense since restaurants
                    dont bundle the revenue generating and losing items. if you are losing
                    money on steaks and making them up on bread, if the marginal utility
                    of bread is less than the marginal cost, people will stop ordering bread
                    and you will be left just losing money on steak [yes, i realize these kinds
                    of transactions are not perfectly rational/efficient, but you do have to do
                    this kind of specific factor analysis to run a viable business].

                    >...if they are unable to reprint their menu?...
                    how many times you reprint a menu in a year isnt a indep variable,
                    it is a dependent variable.

                    be happy you dont live in zimbabwe:

                    "During the meal, one of my mates was drinking beer ... He ordered a
                    fifth one, was advised that the price, which when he ordered his first,
                    second, third and fourth ones was 160 million per bottle, had gone up
                    to 340 million per bottle. That's right — during lunch there was a price
                    increase ..."

                    a more detailed discussion of core/embedded inflation is beyond the scope
                    of this WOB site, but in a little but of synchronicity, see PKRUGMAN's recent
                    discussion at: