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Nov 26, 2011 10:00 AM

Why Cheap Oysters Only at the Bar?

ok, i get it that a good restaurant doesn't want to encumber a table of folks who want dollar oysters and beer. what i don't get is why, if i'm ordering dinner and want oysters as a starter, i should pay 2.50 an oyster for the same oyster that's a dollar at the bar? is there a logic I'm missing here? had a very pleasant dinner at Lineage where this question came up. We didn't press it, and they were kind enough to offer our table of four 6 oysters at the bar price, but we would have really all liked to start with 1/2 dozen of the lovelies. I know Lineage isn't alone on this policy, and I like the restaurant so don't think I'm singling them out. I'm just truly curious as to why, assuming a party is ordering a proper dinner at the dining table, oysters should be offered at two prices depending on which place you put your butt down.

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  1. Logic is probably they don't want you taking up a 4 top where the waitperson will most likely suffer a lean tip. They'd rather get you to hang at the bar, give you a deal on those buck oysters and make up for it on the drinks while keeping the 4 top free dining patrons. Anyway, that's my .02 on attempting to be logical..

    2 Replies
    1. re: treb

      i get that part, but we were ordering a full dinner, drinks and wine. so we weren't going to make the poor waitress work for tips off oysters and beer.

      1. re: teezeetoo

        But some people won't, and they need a blanket policy.

    2. Because they make more money in drinks, and so getting you to sit at the bar where you're likely to drink more will make up for the price of the oysters.

      Fair, maybe not? But it makes sense financially for them.

      14 Replies
      1. re: kobuta

        Do what i do. Get seated and one of you go to the bar and get oysters and beer. Bring back to table
        Eat. Enjoy

        1. re: Locutus

          not to fair for the waitstaff. who will you tip, the bartender? yourself?

          1. re: treb

            ill tip everyone that serves me

          2. re: Locutus

            this might be semi-ok at a divey sports bar but would be truly bad guest etiquette any place else. sheesh.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              First of all, i would never eat oysters in a dive bar. Second, why is it bad etiquette?
              I can buy what ever i want wherever i want

                1. re: Locutus

                  It's bad etiquette because in a restaurant you're expected to stay seated and be served. Even if the service is slow, it's not good etiquette to get up and get something yourself. If the service is fine, it's shockingly bad etiquette to get up, walk into the bar and get food for your table just to save some $$.

                  1. re: hsk

                    Thats OK. Im not worried about it.

                    1. re: Locutus

                      are you one of those people who brings a giant dunkin' donuts coffee to the table too?

                      craigie won't serve its burger in the dining room and chez henri won't serve its cubano sandwich either. it's all about check average in the dining room and also driving business in the bar.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        No, Dunks is the worst coffee ever. Also, i dont buy coffee out. I make my own.

                  2. re: Locutus

                    I would and I have... in N'Orleans, or on the Cape or place beachy.

                    If they look good, and are shuckin' em right in front of you...

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Thats a different story. When i hear "Dive Bar" i think of places like The Cantab

                      1. re: Locutus

                        They briefly served the best burger in Boston at the Cantab. They had the old Tim's Tavern Chef...

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I remember. It lasted 2 months or so then the owner did not wnat to run the kitchen anymore. Its been awhile since i was there, but i dont think he ever sold it

            2. You may have been ordering a proper dinner, but that doesn't mean everyone would. What if it's just apps? Who determines what a "proper dinner" is? All I'm saying is it could get messy if they start down that road and If they let one party do it, they need to let everyone do it, so they create a blanket policy. Or at least that's how I've always interpreted it.

              1. Here's the POV of a restaurant owner:

                Certain promotions are done either at certain times, certain days or in certain seating areas because that is the hole the business owner needs to fill. Period.

                Why do most places not do happy hour at 8pm on a Friday night? Because it doesn't make sense to do loss lead specials (specials where you do not make money but it draws people in) during a time or in a place you probably would have been busy anyway.

                There are a couple of reaosns for bar only specials:
                1) most places the bar is first come first serve. Loss lead specials don't work well in scenarios where reservations are involved.
                2) most places the service done in the bar is less formal, making it less labor intensive, and therefore cheaper to deliver goods and services
                3) often these kinds of specials are meant to drum up business in *the bar area* during a time period or day when bar patronage has been lagging. To put it simply- the bartender is going to be there whether their is business or not so running a loss lead oyster promo is a good way to make the place lively while using only staff that would have been there and likely idle anyway

                If this really bothers you so much you should make your reservation. Arrive 1/2 hour early and say you would like to have drinks in the bar. Have a cocktail and some oysters, clear your tab and then at the time of your reservation ask to be moved to the dining room.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RichardBreadcrumb

                  that's a reasonable approach and one i do often use, RB. I'm personally challenged by bar stools, however: I'm too short!!

                  1. re: teezeetoo

                    I'm short too, teezeetoo so I do hear you about the bar stools. Some bar areas of larger size will have normal height tables in them as well and usually the bar specials will apply at these tables as well as the actual *bar* itself. Also, nothing wrong with doing it Euro-style and stay standing. Leaning against a bar with a drink in hand can be pretty relaxing too.

                    1. re: teezeetoo

                      I hate that my gf won't sit at the bar for that reason.

                  2. I personally think it is totally fair.

                    In Europe it is very common to charge 2 Euros for a coffee at the bar and 4 for the same coffe with table service.

                    Different local, different rules, no worries.

                    The bar special is, wait for it... trying to attract people to the... bar.

                    1 Reply