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Amped-up upselling at Babbo?

l
lujoc Jan 5, 2009 03:56 AM

Had an awesome dinner at Babbo last night, but am I the only one who feels that they've really ramped up the upselling in recent months -- e.g., pushing people to order more appetizers and antipasti (the fennel salad would really go with the octopus, the duck egg would really go with the gnocchi, etc.), pushing 2 carafes of wine for different parts of the meal instead of one, etc. It makes it feel like they're defining themselves as a tourist/suburban experience more than as a great restaurant. Is this how things are now in the economic climate, or has it always been this way, and I'm just more sensitive to it?

  1. b
    billyeats Jan 10, 2009 06:04 PM

    It's funny you mention that. Though I'm not sure about Babbo, I've noticed more servers and baristas than ever saying things like, "do you want something to eat with your coffee?" or "would you care for a glass of wine or a cocktail?" And I'm not talking about Starbucks and chain restaurants. These are reputable, privately owned (and sometimes even upscale) places who haven't done this in the past. That stuff drives me crazy. That stimulus package better come quick!

    6 Replies
    1. re: billyeats
      p
      Pan Jan 11, 2009 11:03 AM

      Am I the only one who doesn't mind being asked whether I want to order a cocktail or aperitif, if the place would serve a good one? I can and usually do say "No, thanks," but I don't mind being asked. I think upselling is OK if the things being offered are actually of value and it's done gently.

      1. re: Pan
        s
        Simon Jan 12, 2009 03:11 PM

        i don't mind being asked if i want a cocktail or apertif either, as i think it can be a nice part of the meal...(and one which many people might not think of without the suggestion)...

        i think the upselling depends on the situation and, like you said, it's fine when it's "things of value" and "done gently"...it's nice when the staff are genuinely are excited about things on the menu...on the other hand, if it's done in a glib way that's clearly not about improving your meal, it can be annoying...

        1. re: Simon
          p
          Pan Jan 12, 2009 10:35 PM

          We're totally in agreement, and I have experienced just the glib attitude you're talking about at various restaurants and didn't like it, especially if it was persistent.

        2. re: Pan
          b
          billyeats Jan 13, 2009 08:45 AM

          I really do mind. I've usually just ordered something and I'm obviously being urged to add something to it. I really don't mind being asked what I'd like to drink, I just don't like the upselling technique of "can I get you a nice glass of wine or a cocktail." Just ask me what I want to drink. I know if I want a glass of wine.

          Perhaps I'm being hyper-critical, but I used to work in restaurants in which managers insisted we use that technique and we all knew it was a blatantly manipulative way of trying to increase a check. I guess I'm a bit sensitive to it.

          1. re: billyeats
            c
            cricri7 Jan 14, 2009 01:55 AM

            I was in NY a couple of weeks ago and I noticed it, like I said in an earlier post, that the waiters were trying to make you order more things. I noticed it also in stores when I bought a single item. The sales persons wanted to sell me many things to go with the single item and were pretty insistent. The recession is now firmly in place in stores and restaurants. The positive aspect is that restaurants, like Picholine, have incorporated lower priced items in their menus.

            1. re: cricri7
              f
              fishermb Jan 14, 2009 08:15 AM

              Does anyone know if Babbo has a different menu for Valentine's Day or if it's standard?

      2. k
        KateMW Jan 10, 2009 12:01 PM

        When we went in August, they were very helpful in not letting me order too much food. I tried! I wanted one of everything and they kept telling me no. I'll let you know in Feb., because we're hoping to go back when we come for the weekend.

        1. c
          cricri7 Jan 5, 2009 05:45 AM

          I am in NY right now on vacation and has passed myself the same commentary that the waiters are pushing for you to order more things. I come to NY often and it is the first time I have noticed it. I went for a drink last night and the girl was not stopping to offer me appetizers. After that at dinner, the waiters were pushing me to get other things than the sashimi platter I had ordered...Some restaurants are feeling the squeeze and others are not because I went to two places, Picholine and the bar room, and both were full packed.

          Lujoc...you are not the only one to have noticed!

          4 Replies
          1. re: cricri7
            jvish Jan 5, 2009 08:27 AM

            I've eaten at Babbo at over a dozen times (last time being a week ago) and have never had the waiter try to upsell anything to me..in fact they almost always suggest splitting the pasta course between 2 people....Im not saying it didnt happen to you..but I have never experienced it

            1. re: jvish
              janethepain Jan 7, 2009 09:11 AM

              I'm having dinner for the first time here tonight for the bf's bday. I hope they don't try to upsell, I'm footing the entire bill! Anyway, for two hungry people, what's a good amount of food? I was thinking one app, two pastas, and I guess the question is, one or two secondi? I don't want to be left with any leftovers, but I want to try nearly everything on the menu!

              1. re: janethepain
                leek Jan 9, 2009 10:39 AM

                If you only order one app, 2 pastas, and 1 secondi for 2 people, you probably will need a little more food. Also, they have a nice wine selection, so make sure to get some wine (a bottle ;)

                1. re: leek
                  janethepain Jan 12, 2009 01:15 PM

                  So we ended up ordering 2 apps, 2 pastas, 1 entree and a dessert. We were totally stuffed. We actually felt kinda full after the pasta course, maybe because they were so rich (we had the beef cheek ravioli and the goose liver ravioli with a ridiculously thick balsamic vinegar). I was surprised at how generous the pasta portions were - you could probably make a meal of just one whole pasta dish. Well maybe the spaghetti - I saw a large mound of it going to someone's table.

                  I was also pleasantly surprised at how many inexpensive wines Babbo had. A "nice" restaurant with $30 bottles??

          2. leek Jan 5, 2009 05:27 AM

            We were there around Labor Day and didn't feel that in any way. Perhaps just your particular waiter?

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