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menu item: drinks for the kitchen?

relizabeth Nov 11, 2012 04:43 PM

We recently noticed the option to buy drinks for the kitchen on some menus. I've attached pdfs of 2 of them. Have you seen this anywhere? Where/when did this start? odd, no?

edit: cant attach pdfs. here are links to restaurants. btw, we've had very good meals at both.
(click to see it on PDF


(open dinner menu)

  1. ttoommyy Nov 11, 2012 04:48 PM

    I don't see the pdfs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ttoommyy
      relizabeth Nov 11, 2012 04:54 PM

      gah! I added links to find them on original post.

    2. JonParker Nov 11, 2012 04:59 PM

      I have never seen this on the menu, but I have done it before.

      1. PotatoHouse Nov 11, 2012 06:26 PM

        There was a thread about this when i first joined CH. Some saw it as the owner's attempt to get an extra tip for the kitchen. They didn't believe that the kitchen staff actually received drinks. Some thought that the owners pocketed the money and the kitchen didn't get squat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PotatoHouse
          Bill Hunt Nov 13, 2012 08:09 PM

          <<Some thought that the owners pocketed the money and the kitchen didn't get squat.>>

          Oh, that would be tasteless and very unkind - though I can well imagine such.


          1. re: PotatoHouse
            jgg13 Nov 16, 2012 02:13 PM

            There's a place near me w/ an open kitchen and they certainly receive them (also on the menu). They'll bring some cans to the line and you'll see them all drinking them.

          2. Bill Hunt Nov 13, 2012 08:08 PM

            I have never seen such.

            However, as we dine as a couple most often, and love our wines, we often have more, than we can safely drink.

            Depending on the situation, we often offer the remainder, of maybe three bottles, to the staff.

            Once, our server commented on the Montrachet that we were having. We quickly invited her to share a glass, to experience a big, French Chard.

            Not that long ago, we ordered a very special Pinot Noir. Even the sommelier, who was serving us that night, had never tasted it, nor had the service captain, who did not even know that it had been added to the wine list. Each got a glass.

            If I have done a BYOW (not very often), the sommelier, the chef, and the owner (if different than the chef), all get a glass.

            Guess that it is similar, but have just never seen an option to provide the kitchen with a "drink." Think that I might do so AFTER my meal, and not before, but that is just me.



            1. j
              Jeri L Nov 13, 2012 08:32 PM


              1. c
                cleobeach Nov 14, 2012 07:34 AM

                I have never hear of this practice before.

                Staff drinking yes, requesting the purchase of drinks, no.

                I wonder about the liability issue of having staff person drink on the job, I can't imagine why an owner or manager would solict alcohol for employees, whether it was to be consumed before or after shift.

                We have shared tastes of wine with servers and restaurant owners at BYOB places but somehow, that feels different than buying a six pack (or whatever) for the kitchen.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cleobeach
                  Querencia Nov 16, 2012 07:04 PM

                  I agree. I have never heard of it either. And I wonder about the wisdom of encouraging drinking on the job by workers who already work in tight conditions and under stress AND AROUND FIRE AND WITH POTS OF HOT LIQUID AND HOT GREASE. A busy restaurant kitchen during the dinner service does not sound to me like the ideal place to get drunk. Is there a liability issue here?

                2. rockandroller1 Nov 14, 2012 09:53 AM

                  We have a restaurant that does it here, and I can tell you for sure they get the drinks, though they are not consumed til after service. When someone buys a round of drinks for the kitchen, a bell goes off and the kitchen all cheers, and a tray full of cans of cheap beer is marched down into the prep kitchen and into a cooler (have seen it happen). Kitchen people are generally not into fakey-fakey crap like singing happy birthday for a customer, so I kind of doubt the cheer would go up if they weren't really going to get the beer.

                  1. f
                    foodieX2 Nov 14, 2012 10:02 AM

                    I have sent a glass of wine back to a chef I am familiar with, I have shared wine with my favorite bartender and offered a glass to the sommelier. I cannot, however get my head around it being on the menu.

                    1. BiscuitBoy Nov 15, 2012 07:08 AM

                      right up there with the unisex bathroom, and ipad menus

                      1. p
                        pollymerase Nov 15, 2012 08:02 AM

                        I've seen it before on the coasts, but never in the KC area. Interesting.

                        I guess I don't really have a problem with people wanting to buy a round for the kitchen if they felt they did a great job, however something bothers me about management making a profit off your good will by charging you more than cost (or perhaps a slight mark-up so it's not so obvious what their profit is) $10 for a 6-pack of PBR? I'd rather go down to the corner store, buy a six pack, and give it to the kitchen.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pollymerase
                          MonMauler Nov 15, 2012 08:28 AM

                          I was thinking the same thing regarding pricing, pollymerase. I know I've seen this on the menu at a few restaurants I've patronized, but never really at places as linked in the OP. In my experience, places that have this on the menu are those with an active bar, mostly standard bar grub, and a menu that describes the food through jokes.

                          Moreover, in my experience the restaurant offers the drinks for the staff at cost or at staff prices.

                        2. t
                          tastesgoodwhatisit Nov 16, 2012 12:48 AM

                          Having it on the menu as an option strikes me as odd.

                          I can see when occasionally someone decides to do it spontaneously, but if it's supposed to be a common thing, I'm not sure I really want the kitchen staff to be consuming that much alcohol while preparing my food.

                          Plus, as someone else said, the restaurant is still making a profit on that drink you buy for their staff.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                            pollymerase Nov 16, 2012 06:45 AM

                            I think they typically drink it at the end of the shift--either after work or perhaps during breakdown/clean-up, but I've not heard of them actually drinking while working the line.

                            That said, I'm guessing it is a fairly rare occurrence (based on when I've asked people at restaurants who offer it), so I doubt they are getting trashed on the line. Management is going to allow that to happen.

                            1. re: pollymerase
                              MonMauler Nov 16, 2012 07:45 AM

                              I agree that when you actually see "Drinks for the Kitchen" or a similar menu item on the menu, it is understood that the drinks will be consumed post-shift.

                              However, I bristle at the suggestion that cooks, servers and other staff don't drink while working. Many, if not most, of the people I know in the service industry regularly drink both before and during work. Several cooks I know at many high-end places cop to having a plastic cup of alcohol always available at their station, and as long as they keep it together while working the line, it is tolerated. Servers at high-end places are usually absolutely forbidden to drink during work, but many grab a few drinks beforehand. At many restaurant-bar type places I go to servers and cooks will drink during their shift. Not infrequently I will share a beverage with an on-duty server or cook...

                              1. re: MonMauler
                                pollymerase Nov 16, 2012 12:53 PM

                                I completely agree that some front and back of the house staff are often drinking before/during/after their shift. I meant that I didn't think if someone ordered a round for the kitchen at 7:30 that they were drinking it then.

                                I was aware that those higher up on the chain in the kitchen might drink during service, but I didn't realize that the rookies/newer people did as well. I always thought of it as a situation where those more experienced knew where alcohol/other substances would help them deal with the pressure, but not put them over. Having someone who is just learning the line drinking, seems to me to be more of a potential issue.

                                I think a lot of it probably depends upon the establishment. I have a friend who is a server at a fairly high volume brasserie where they are absolutely forbade from ever drinking there. Even on nights off, they can't go in to have a drink at the bar. He does, however, often have before work drinks elsewhere. I don't know how the kitchen works, however.

                                1. re: MonMauler
                                  Bill Hunt Nov 16, 2012 05:57 PM

                                  Depending on how well a restaurant interfaces the food an wine-pairings, I can see the kitchen staff having some wines to taste, while preparing the food, though in most cases, that I have encountered, the chef and the sommelier have worked that out well before hand.

                                  Since the kitchen is not quit "brain surgery" - how about a drink for the surgeon, on the surgery form?, it is probably not a big deal.


                            2. Tripeler Nov 16, 2012 10:09 PM

                              There is always the option of just tipping more.

                              Having a "drinks for the kitchen" on the menu is certainly in keeping with P.T. Barnum's First Law of Economics.

                              1. JonParker Nov 17, 2012 02:27 AM

                                True story: a restaurant near me had lamb tartare, topped with a poached quail egg and served with pickled ramps. It's the single best dish I've ever had anywhere, but the availability was limited. Finally they ran out of it, but they saved the very last portion for me because I had sent the kitchen beer on a couple of occasions. The staff at this place treated me so well that I had to stop posting about them on Chowhound, but that was because I treated them well.

                                Being good to people pays off. I'm not crazy about the idea of drinks for the kitchen appearing on the menu, but sending them a round is never a bad idea.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JonParker
                                  Bill Hunt Nov 17, 2012 08:18 PM

                                  That sounds like a great implementation of "drinks for the kitchen!"


                                  PS - one of the sommeliers at a resort, that we frequent, told us that they were almost out of the '05 Montrachets, and that all sommeliers had ceased recommending them, so that my wife and I would still have a few. He stated that if a patron did not request that vintage, then they would all suggest something BUT an '05. Not sure if that was because we always share our wines with the sommeliers and servers, or not?

                                2. n
                                  Nanzi Nov 17, 2012 09:45 AM

                                  I have a different take on this, having been a waitress for many years. We had a German Chef who loved his beer and was big on bringing the guys in the kitchen beer from the taps. Friday and Saturday nights, it became increasingly difficult to get food out of the kitchen, or to tolerate the drunken, swear riddled behavior of the kitchen staff. One would wonder at the motives of the house putting a 'drinks for the kitchen' suggestion on the menu.

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