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Daily Specials for locals, and regulars only?! [from General Topics]

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Spent a gorgeously hot day in, and around Marin County. We stopped for a light dinner on our way home to the SF Bay Area. We happened upon a bustling neighborhood restaurant and by sheer luck we were seated immediately. Menus, wine list, water, and warm bread and butter were provided by our smiling server. She asked whether we would like to start with a cocktail, or wine to which I replied that I may order wine after I had decided on my meal. She returned a few minutes later to take our food, and drink orders and we both declined on wine mostly because we had the drive ahead of us, and we had gotten a lot of sun at the beach earlier. In fact the evening was still quite warm, and balmy. We received our meals at which time we overheard our still smiling server greet a table of what appeared to be locals, and or regulars. But wait...she proceeded to describe the delicious specials. Huh, what specials?! Shortly afterward another seemingly non-local couple were not informed of the specials as well. When presented the bill I was torn whether to mention it but decided it was after the fact. Ever experience this yourself?

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  1. I've experienced worse, but I don't lose any sleep over it. I've also been given special treatment as a regular (this is far more common), but generally it is done discreetly.

    1. Often, even at places where I am a local and a regular. I think servers forget sometimes to rattle them off.

      I have spent years trying to get a good handle on the "special". Sometimes I think it is to get rid of something that is due to go bad and sometimes I think it is something really nice that the chef happened on and put his heart into the preparation.

      Don't really have a problem with a place saving the best for the regulars either, if in fact they do.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kengk

        I agree that it is hard to get a good handle on "specials".

        I do think that places which have a large percent of regulars often offer specials as a way to keep their primary customers from getting bored with the menu.

        Perhaps in this case the servers feel the regular menu has yet to be tired of by new customers so limited portions of specials are only offered to the folks who have memorized the menu from front to back.

      2. Do you think it may have anything to do with me not ordering wine, or cocktails?

        2 Replies
        1. re: letsindulge

          I do not think not ordering alcohol had much to do with them offering thier specials. My thoughts would be SERVER ERROR... or the restaurant coudl have a honor do not offer program in effect. So if you asked about specials , she would have to tell or , but if you didnt she won't offer them up...

          1. re: letsindulge

            I doubt it...lots of people dont drink these days...it is not really a big deal like it used to be.

          2. Only once - in a Michelin starred restaurant.

            Dunno whether the table being told about specials were regulars or whether specials were not told to us was due to the general shite level of service in that place.

            1. I think this type of thing happens more at places that are supported and cater to local regulars. There is a very good place where we are regulars and get a lot of perks and it's a good experience for non-regulars but isn't the same as it is for us. If I am recommending the place to a friend I encourage them to go with me or let the staff know I recommended the place to them.

              1. Sometimes the kitchen may only have a couple of the specials available, and they may see in the reservation book a regular who's taste they know and know they will be interested in this special so they save it for them. Sometimes its a new dish or presentation that they are trying out and want someone's opinion that they know before adding it to the regular menu. I'm sure it had nothing to do with you not ordering wine. Its also possible the server simple forgot with a few tables.

                1. I think I will make it a point to ask about the specials from now on. Had we been informed my husband, and I most certainly would have ordered a special each. They sounded very appetizing. Oh well. The meals we had were satisfactory.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: letsindulge

                    This particular restaurant probably reads this site and has come to the conclusion their policy should be not to recite any specials unless asked if they are available.....too many cry babies complaining about up-selling and having to endure the presentation....
                    ; - )

                  2. A couple of our favorite places often give us "perks", and I think that's ok. Our go- to sushi place especially- he always gives us a special roll or appetizer not even on the specials list. He knows our tastes, and creates something for us (and then we still order the same stuff we always do!). Maybe it's that we are regulars, or maybe it's our general "over- tipping" policy- either way, it's all good!