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If you don't get free bread at a restaurant do you think it makes them cheap?

Ordered off the menu for brunch and was told bread was only for the buffet. Seems cheap to me, but at the same time perhaps bread isn't something that should be expected?

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  1. Bread shouldn't be expected, I don't think. It's a bonus. Nothing in life is free, so why should a basket of bread be? I don't base my opinion of a restaurant solely on the freebies. It's all about the meal, drinks, and service. It's certainly nice to get the bread, but I wouldn't expect it.

    1. Going to a restaurant is about the experience. Some choose to have bread as part of that experience and others choose to exclude the starch. I wouldn't consider the lack of bread as being cheap, but if I feel during the meal, "I'd like some bread with this," then we have a problem. Some places just "need" to have free bread (Most obvious one is probably a steak house). If it's not there, then that's very poor planning by the chef.

      1. No, they are not being cheap. Not all menus in restaurants call for bread as as a necessary item to compliment an entree or meal. Sometimes restaurants try to keep the menu prices down, so they do not offer bread....or butter for the bread if they do.

        Nothing is free...if a restaurant wants to give or offer bread on/for the table....the cost of supplying the bread should be built in to the prices listed on the menu, or listed on the menu as an extra charge.

        3 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          O.K This is not a little thing. I have been in food service for 40 years. I own and have owned many restaurants. I still do own two italian places.

          People come to your place and are hungry because they are. They can also be hungry because of your good food by anticipation of a good meal. When you serve them bread upon sitting down you do two things.

          1) they being hungry start to slam down the bread because it is in their face. This in turn causes them to become full before they even get their food. They are full but not satisfied. They somehow have missed the real delivery of a great meal because they are full of bread.

          2) This in turn also cuts into sales because they are not going to order a dessert etc. Then they will pack up their unfinished meal and take it home. It cost $ to pack up a meal and to not sell additions to the meal.

          It is perhaps the worst thing a restaurant can do to a guest. Stick a bucket of bead in their face.

          Should it be free. Yes but only with the main meal not prior to that.

          We made the best homemade bread anywhere. We got to the point that people whould come order as little as possible and eat tons of bread. Could we charge them. No or not without a fight. So what did we do. Stop the great bread and got plain old Italian bread from sam's. That solved it Shame but true. People will kill you for bread if you charge them. Even if you give them all the true reasons.

          Mark Twain once said........"That the basic differance between a man and a dog is that if you feed a dog it will not bite you"

          1. re: fourunder

            This is an aside, but I honestly can't think of a worse tactic than to give people "free" bread and then charge them for butter because it's "optional". That would really piss me off as a customer. I might even go all white trash and take the damn loaf home with me since the health dept says they can't give that loaf to anybody else. Melted garlic butter? Yeah, that could definitely be optional.
            Maybe one loaf of complimentary bread with the butter/dippingsauce and then charge for additional ones. I'm not so naive as to think that people won't order one of the cheapest things on the menu and snarf down great huge amounts of bread and butter because it's free and delicious and they're scroungy. If you've got a big spender at your table, go ahead and comp them another loaf or two, depending on what they're spending on the food and liquor.

          2. Bread is never free. It's built in the price (the norm in the USA) or you pay a la carte. But you do pay something.

            That said, restaurants can do as they please in terms of deciding on an approach, but have to live with the consequences. In the US, that usually means that not providing bread as part of the experience will likely diminish the restaurant in the view of more customers than the other way around.

            1. Not necessarliy, but I do appreciate a good bread basket. Especially in a red sauce Italian place or steakhouse.
              I would only be disappointed if it was a place that normally served it (my local diner serves delicious challah), or if someone specifically called it out on a recommendation and it didn't appear on the table.