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Jan 30, 2011 12:32 PM

Should a waiter tell you how much a special costs?


This message is on the NY board. It is a very interesting issue. Some people do not hesitate to ask. Some are embarassed, especialy when out with others. In some cultures it may be rude to ask. I think that restaurants are selling products, and have the same requirements as other retail establishments. You do not have to as the salesperson in nordstrom for the price of the shoes. Does this vary by state?Does anyone have any ideas about changing this practice?

  1. I don't understand why they don't reveal the prices automatically. But I have no problem asking if it would affect my decision to choose the special.

    1 Reply
    1. Unless they are paying for my meal they darn better tell me how much it costs. If not I always ask. For some reason the Specials always are higher then the regular menu even if it is the same main ingredient with a different twist.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Mother of four

        I've been leary of this practice on no pricing since the mid seventies. I was probably just 17, and took my gal to Little Italy in Manhattan. Drinking age was 18 back then, so I 'maturely' ordered a bottle of Chianti. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the sharp waiter served us Ruffino Reserva Ducale. Five times more expensive than any wine I'd ever had. We both ordered entree specials. The bill came---heart attack for me. The entree specials were about $6 or $7 bucks higher than the most expensive entree. Plus the expensive wine! I had to leave my gal there, drive back through the Holland tunnel to Jersey, grab money from my folks, and go back into Manhattan. A little bit of a fast move on "the kids from Joisey". Prices should always be communicated.

        1. re: chefdaddyo

          That's a great story, and says a lot about the world some of us used to know (no credit cards, no ATMS, 18 year old drinking age) and trying to impress that date in "authentic" Little Italy! I have to say, in Manhattan, most upper tier restaurants these days that I've been to rarely announce prices for specials...I realize that a lot of readers will consider it a NYC snob thing, but asking how much a special costs in certain places relegates you to tourist status...I'm not saying I like it, but I think that's how the servers treat diners who do ask--again, only in certain kind of places...

          1. re: penthouse pup

            When the prices of specials aren't communicated, I feel put in a "damned if I do and damned if I don't" situation. Do I announce myself as a rube by being so gosh as to ask, or do I risk sticker shock when I get the bill? There have been occasions, depending on where I am and who I'm with, when I have felt so uncomfortable about this that I just chose to not go with the special.

      2. Believe it or not it is now a law in Nassau county that prices of specials must be posted where everyone can see. I have read about it twice in Newsday. Unfortunately when I mention it at restaurants no one seems to have heard of it. I actually show waiters the article

        I make it a point to ask the price of specials if I am interested. Do you go into a department store and buy anything without knowing the price? I think you're a rube if you don't.

        1. I'd like to hope that a place told you the price of the specials - although it's rare that they do in my experience. For example, we were at a place last night - there were seven specials and only the price of one was mentioned ( to draw attention to the fact that it was particularly expensive). Otherwise, if I needed to know the price, I'd just ask. As it was, I didnt need to know and just ordered one of them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            Yeah, pup, one more thing to add to that story. That restaurant is one of the few still in business in Little Italy. But they got me again, about ten years later. I ordered some sort of seafood brochette from the menu, written in Italian. I received a skewer of giant chunks of eel (on the bone) with a couple of shrimp. Couldn't choke down the eel, as much as I tried. Caveat emptor at it's finest!

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