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The Lowry

Just had one of the strangest things that every happened to me in a restaurant in the twin cities occur. We went in for a late bite and drink and ordered drinks during their 10pm+ "happy hour". Well drinks are advertised as $3. We ordered bourbon on the rocks. Had two, and the tab was $9. When we questioned it, we were told that "on the rocks" drinks are served w/ special square ice and are a half an ounce more, and cost $1.50 more. If we wanted the "happy hour" price, we would have to order our drinks "on ice", not "on the rocks"! Has anyone EVER heard of such a thing?!

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  1. Sounds like that was prime time to talk with a manager. Even if true, the server (or bartender who served you) should have confirmed that you understood what you were ordering.

    Either way it sounds like.... well it sounds bogus from a marketing standpoint. I'd drop them a line and let them know that you feel that way. Blue Plate used to be very responsive to screw ups, etc. [They comped us 3 times in our first 3 visits to the Edina Grill when it first opened and kept offering us a return meal. It paid off as we started going there weekly for years.] I hope they've kept up their high level of customer service.

    1. That sounds like bait and switch. I have found restaurants being more contentious in the past few years at many places that I have been to more than a few times. The customer is always right is long gone. I have always felt if a place treats your right, you come back. I hope the extra $3 is worth the probably half dozen customers that will read your post and choose not to go there for HH.

        1. That's completely bogus - the restaurant should be spanked. The Lowry is completely off my list. Plus, any server/bartender who did not warn me of such a policy would not get a tip from me. As a former server, I almost never undertip. But for this - yes, indeedy.

          1. This place has been such a disappointment in so many respects. Mediocre food. Mediocre service. And stuff like the above. No one I know who lives in the neighborhood goes there, anymore. That tells you something.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

              I've been there a few times. First time, the bartender was great. Food was OK, nothing to write home about. Serviceable, if that's the low bar set. For what it is, and where it is, it does it's job. But again, the bar is set low.

            2. I'm adding to my original post - for Bob - we did talk to the manager, who told us he was from the Maple Grove site, and "that's how they do thing's there", (after we told him we had been in for 4 consecutive Friday nights after our son's football game, and this was a first.) He offered a comp and we took one for another time. We know the owners, but we hate to bother them w/ something so small, and we hate to name drop.

              My point is this - we have ordered drinks on the rocks all of our drinking lives, and it is certainly a new twist on us that to do so is to invite "special square ice" and a larger shot. If it isn't on the menu, and the server says nothing, how is anyone to know that one is now to order a drink "on ice" to get what has been traditionally served? As I asked, and no one has answered - is this something new in the hip happening bar world?!

              And given the turn the conversation has taken - I agree the Lowry needs to step up it's game, especially given the sophistication of the neighborhood. Right now, there is no competition. Liquor Lyle's isn't, and the Rye just isn't hitting the mark; everyone I know gave it a good shot and gave up. I think the bar at the Burch may give it real competition when it opens if it has a good vibe, is welcoming, and not too expensive (and crowded). We'll see.

              10 Replies
              1. re: wisperch

                Thanks - glad to hear more of the story. The minute a manager says "that's the way they do things" is the minute you know they don't give a .... about the customer. Quite frankly, if you know the owners, your'e doing them a favor by letting them know about the half-assed service you received. And if you're receiving it everyone else is as well.

                It's absolute crap for someone to try to say that "on the rocks" is some special code for an upcharged drink. I'm much too much of an old fogey to know if this is something new but it's irrelevant to me if it is - on the rocks means with ice to 99% of the world.

                1. re: wisperch

                  Yeah, that's the first time I've heard of "on the rocks" being anything other than "with ice." When there's special ice (such as lovely planetary, glass-filling spheres), the establishment tends to mention it on the menu.

                  I have never seen mention of "special ice" on the Lowry menu. If it's not on the menu, it's not going on my bill.

                  edited to add - It's not small. The owners should know this is going on, if they don't already.

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    More than once, I've been charged more for getting whiskey 'on the rocks' as opposed to mixed. But for the life of me, I can't think of where it happened.

                    1. re: BigE

                      a rocks pour is traditionally a 1/2 oz bump. its pretty standard in the corporate/steakhouse/hotel world. most neighborhood place either dont bump the drink or don't know they are supposed to charge more. can of worms opened...

                        1. re: mitch cumstein

                          Ok, I was just reading an old thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/504740 talking about this and I have to say - I am astounded.

                          I used to be quite the boozehound and have purchased my fair share of quaffs of any and all sorts of liquor filled beverages. Not once do I recall (no snickering about hazy recollection, now), ever being up-charged for an on-the-rocks anything.

                          I think this "traditional bump" must be fairly new to the tight-fisted upper Midwest.

                          1. re: MplsM ary

                            it's not new anywhere...straight liquor, on the rocks or neat is 2-2.25 oz. a base liquor for a mixed drink is 1.5 oz. it costs more and sensibility should tell you that booze costs per ounce. If we are talking sensibility, kevin47, then it should be known that most people will adulterate what you say is the only way to consume a bourbon, and that if you are ordering something "rocks" then you get more than in a mixed drink. The public is spared the translation of this on a menu and a charge is added. I guarantee if you paid for 1.5 oz of booze with ice we would be having the same conversation about the lowry pouring short during happy hour.

                            1. re: mitch cumstein

                              Huh? As I said, I don't consider straight bourbon to be a well drink, so I understand the higher cost for the reason you delineate. I think you just missed my "if you aren't ordering a mixed drink" qualifier.

                              But charging extra for rocks vs. ice is simply absurd. It is possible the waitress was just mixed up, and that the real answer she should have given is "bourbon isn't a well drink, and so there is more alcohol, and so it costs more money... However, since you didn't know that, I'll take it off your bill."

                              1. re: kevin47

                                I disagree. There is in fact well bourbon, and if you in fact wanted to drink the well bourbon, on the rocks, the extra bourbon to complete the order of a _____ bourbon on the rocks requires more of said bourbon, which in turn requires more money.
                                So again, if you are not ordering bourbon as a mixed drink, and consuming it either neat or rocks, it is a larger pour of that bourbon. Its not a subjective argument, its a method of bar measurement.
                                This subject of charging for the extra .5-.75 oz is not a new one, but it won't go away, and unless you are drinking at establishments that pour a 2oz shot both in cocktails and rocks/neat, people better get used to it. But as far as I have seen in MSP, 1.5 oz is standard measure for places that keep score, with a .5-.75 oz "bump" for the neat/rocks order.

                                1. re: mitch cumstein

                                  A well drink that is only liquor would be well liquor. Other than that, we essentially agree a restaurant may charge more for straight booze. However, the waitress explained the addition of ice had something to do with the charge, which is ridiculous.

                  2. This is not new. Here's a discussion, begun four years ago, on the topic and it wasn't new then either.


                    1. I have never understood well drinks to include straight alcohol, so I understand if it's just $4.50 for a bourbon.

                      However, the idea of an up charge to have bourbon on the rocks is preposterous. If you aren't ordering a mixed drink, there are only two ways you can sensibly drink bourbon, with ice and without. The pour should be the same regardless.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: kevin47

                        My favorite place for drinking scotch on the rocks is the Monte Carlo. I've never thought to ask or look at the bill to see if there's an upcharge. Anyone know how the Monte handles it? BTW, I've done more than my share of upscale drinking at the hotel bars in this town and I've never heard of an upcharge. Then, again, I was mostly on expense accounts (and mostly expenses to businesses I owned) and probably never looked hard at the specifics of any of the bills.

                        1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                          I think it doesn't matter at all if its not new....the waitress has the responsibility to tell the customers about the potential up charge. Its like adding an ingredient to a pizza..up charge. But they tell you. If a bar is measuring to 1/4 an oz....screw that place. Liquor has such a markup anyway. Restaurants that are cheap, get kicked out of the heap. And I have been a waiter and know margins on these types of things.

                          1. re: brlattim

                            Just one more comment in response - we did tell the waitress we were going to order drinks and she advised us to wait 4 minutes until 10 when happy hour kicked in - so she knew we were expecting to get happy hour prices.

                            1. re: wisperch

                              Regardless of whether it's "right" to upcharge on bourbon on the rocks or not (seriously, I think this is totally aside to the real problem here which is one of service)- there was a failure at the Lowry on two fronts. First the server should have said that these drinks were not covered by the happy hour price, especially since she knew they were wanting the happy hour price- they waited 4 extra minutes as she suggested. Right after they ordered she should have said something. If she didn't know until she rang up the ticket, well then that's a failure of training and upon realizing that her customers were going to be charged more than she had led them to believe, she should have comped them for the difference. Secondly, if none of that happened, as it did not, the manager should have immediately made it right. That's the job of management. Happy customer are repeat customers & tell their friends. Unhappy customers don't come back and tell all their friends.....and the internets besides. Personally, I feel like in this age of things like chowhound, yelp, etc. that the customer is always right should be even more of a priority. I mean, now all kinds of people are annoyed with the Lowry for having weird priorities. Leastways, I'm annoyed and less likely to go there.

                              Also, charging more for special ice boggles the mind. Um, it's still frozen water, right?! Sheesh talk about ridiculous hipster nonsense...

                          2. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                            The menu price for liquor will be the same up or on the rocks at any respectable establishment. Then again, pretty much any pour will cost you at least $4.50 at any respectable establishment.

                        2. I take most of my drinks "neat." When I do I know that I'm getting more than in a standard mixed drink and assume that I'm paying more. Then again, buying booze at any restaurant/bar is a ripoff from an economic standpoint versus buying at the liquor store, so what does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? If you're at the bar, expect to pay a lot more than at home.