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Is it discrimination?

I just received a 'free entree' coupon from Tony Roma's for my b'day but the restrictions say "dine in only". My wife has disabilities that prevent us from dining in any place. We always take out. I had the same problem with their Encino location when we lived there; discount coupons all have that restriction. I explained to the manager that the restriction was not fair and he actually agreed. If we did dine in we would order the same things so, what's the problem?

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  1. Makes no sense to me. I'm surprised that the manager didn't make an exception in your case.

    4 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Because that's the start of a slippery slope: as someone else pointed out, most special offers are targeted to certain market subsets. As long as the business doesn't discriminate on legally protected factors they can do what they think will get them the most business in the long run. Maybe they're offering a loss-leader item "for free" in the hopes they'll make it up in appetizers/liquor/dessert sales.

      From the manager's point of view, once you start making exceptions for one customer you get more people demanding special treatment, and if you're operating on a slim margin that may make the difference between making payroll or not.

      1. re: pikawicca

        Sometimes, as hard as it is to hear, there are businesses who don't want certain people and their business.
        It's just life, as they say.

        1. re: pikawicca

          They didn't make an exception because there is no reason to. It's a free entree coupon that is basically sent as an incentive to get you to eat there, knowing you will like mostly likely not eat alone, but even if you do you will spend money one way or another. Order a drink, appetizer, dessert, to go with the "free" entree and also ( hopefully) tip the waitress.

          Businesses send out coupons with the idea that they will make more money in the long run.

          1. re: rasputina

            add to that, by bringing another person in, the second person may be new to the restaurant and recommend the food to a third or fourth person. the fact that the restaurant used a birthday as the time of offering the deal, suggests that they were hoping that a birthday party would be held at the restaurant, not that two meals would be packed up and taken home. their terms reflected the restaurant's goal. these deals are not offered to "gift" the recipient. they are offered to increase the restaurant's business/revenue.

            as a rule, the very best treatment i get in any restaurant occurs when i'm bringing in 2 or 3 NEW customers with me.

            even my stock brokerage firm and my gym offer incentives for bringing potential new clients/customers to them.

        2. Not fair, but I suppose the old "gift horse" saying applies.

          1. Because they want you in there buying beverages and desserts along with it. No discrimination.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

              That's exactly the point - they are willing to give you the coupon for dining in because you will be ordering drinks, etc., to offset the cost of the 'free' entree. Takeout orders don't always have the add - on of a beverage, etc.

              Another point that's kind of the same is saying, the coupon is buy one - get one- but I can only eat one entree, so I should be able to use the coupon to get my meal at half price? Is it discrimination because I am not part of a couple?

              1. re: jeanmarieok

                +1 In this long thread, mrbigshotno.1 is about the only one who really summed it up. If you are not the customer who is going to dine in and (hopefully, per their logic) order drinks, tip the server, pay tax and get dessert, the coupon is not for you. They are rewarding those who spend a little more (dine-IN customers) with a coupon, not those who want to save pennies (takeout customers). That's why it's dine-in only. They are probably not getting much of a profit off of anyone using that coupon to begin with, and what little profit they have hoped to get by running it is completely negated if you let takeout people use it too.

            2. How is this discrimination just because your wife has special circumstances? It's not like they targeted her special needs directly. It worries me that labeling everything discrimination dilutes the term when real discrimination happens.

              1 Reply
              1. re: PegS

                By definition anything restrictive discriminates against those who don't qualify for whatever reason; doesn't have to be a disability. In this case the only qualification s/b the b'day.

              2. I would say it is discrimination -- but not by intentional. In other words, unintentional discrimination, and we see this happens a lot in everyday situation. A lot of practices are discriminatory by natural, such "Buy an entire cookware set and get another pan for free" -- this discriminates people who do not buy the set and likely including people who cannot afford to buy the set, so you can say it is bias for wealthier people and bias against poorer people. My local pubs have happy hours from 4:00 -7:00. It is discriminating against people who have to work later than 7:00 PM. Needless to say, a 30% special discount on a salmon dish is discriminating against people who is allergic to fish.

                I guess my point is that everytime there is a new policy -- someone gains and someone loses, therefore it is always discriminating a set of people, but they may not be the intentional targets.

                Pikawicca is correct. I hope the manager can find some compromises.

                11 Replies
                  1. re: westsidegal

                    "Why" for which particular part? <-- I wrote a few things.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      the last statement.

                      the restaurant has already offered a special deal whereby they are offering a completely FREE meal under a certain very reasonable circumstance (that the meals be consumed in the restaurant).
                      why do you think the manager should find any additional give-aways or changes in terms here?
                      the deal being offered is terrific.
                      the terms of the deal are more than reasonable.
                      why should any more compromise be found?

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        <why do you think the manager should find any additional give-aways or changes in terms here?>

                        Certainly not additional give aways, but finding a middle ground. Like most suspected, this restaurant probably is doing this for advertisement and to make a bit money from drinks and desserts. So may be the managers can explain this to mucho, and said "Dude, I totally understand your situation, and I have explained to my regional manger. We like to accommodate your special needs if you are willing to order some drinks and some desserts along with your takes-out order..."

                        Mucho can get his free entree, and this restaurant can get its intended goals. This way everyone gets what they want.

                        I do this time to time to alternate deals with local restaurants and shops. For example, I went to a very famous kitchen knife shop in Vancouver Canada. I was hoping to get a very small discount, but the shop keeper expressed that the price is very reasonable, and I agreed. So at the end, we discussed a bit more, and I said. "I want to tell you that you make very good knives, and I am definitely going to buy one knife from you regardless. Now, if you can give me a small discount, I will buy three knives instead of one. You can give me whatever discount you are comfortable with" At the end, I think she gave me like a 4% discount, and I bought three knives. She gained some and I gained some.

                        PS.: the reason I want that small discount is that the online prices were actually slightly cheaper than the in store prices

                        <why should any more compromise be found?>

                        Because sometime everyone can win in a compromise. Sometime no, but sometime yes. We are not talking about the Jerusalem case where everyone wants exactly the same thing and therefore very little compromise can be made. Here, Mucho wants free entree, and the restaurant wants money from drinks and desserts. I see a potential compromise. Let's face it. The ultimate goal for the restaurant is not the "dine-in" part, so why not just cut to the chase?

                        I was not saying that the restaurant should or need to find a compromise. I was just saying that it would be nice, and I hope for a compromise where both parties can benefit.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Actually, dining-in can be very important to a restaurant aside from the monetary transaction. If a restaurant is normally deserted for midweek dinner, that can scare off other customers. That's why they seat the very first people near the window, so others can see the place is getting business. This will bring in a lot more money than a drink or two.

                          1. re: Steve

                            <If a restaurant is normally deserted for midweek dinner, that can scare off other customers.>

                            A very valid point, Steve. In which case, the restaurant may not able to work out a compromise with Mucho Gordon. Still, an explanation or two won't hurt. Sometime it is still nice to know why you are being rejected by restaurants or by women. :P

                            <That's why they seat the very first people near the window,>

                            I know. :P They do it to me many times.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I totally agree. I am all for making life easier for everyone and giving a little.

                              I was simply pointing out what I think id the main reason for the dine-in requirement, to fill the empty tables.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Opps. Toronto Canada -- just to set the record straight.

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I don't see any of these examples as discrimination, to be honest.

                      If there is a half off sale on women's shoes at khols, I don't expect to get half off men's pants too just because I'm a guy.

                      1. re: Atomic76

                        yeah, but what if you only had one foot? Would it be discriminatory if you had to buy a l/r set to get the discount? Can you get 2 left shoes instead of a left and a right?

                        (this is me kidding, by the way)

                        1. re: cheesemonger

                          On a serious note -- I had a friend whose feet are vastly different sizes due to a congenital issue. Her feet work fine, but one is about 3 sizes bigger than the other.

                          She usually just stuffs one shoe with tissue paper, just because then she appears in public with equally-sized feet.

                          She sometimes has to buy two pairs of shoes (sneakers don't stuff all that well....), but she got lucky enough to find an exchange for people with similar issues (and people who only have one foot) -- they can trade the shoes they don't need.

                    3. I once got into a heated argument with the door-guy about what I saw as discrimination when they were waiving the $5 cover for women. This was in NJ in the 70's. Maybe, this is no longer allowed since women got liberated.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: grampart

                        i'll bet most of the "women" were pretty girls.
                        if the "women" were heavy set, middle-aged women who didn't have on a nice outfit d'ya think they'd be waiving the fee?

                        pretty girls = bait

                        business reality: you want as much bait in your restaurant as you can get.

                        there's a restaurant near me that offered a happy hour special to attract the young working crowd after work. when the old retired unshaven guys started coming in wearing dirty t-shirts and dirty athletic shoes in order to take advantage of the deals that were being offered, the happy hour deals stopped being offered.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Not all old, retired, unshaven guys go around wearing dirty t-shirts, I would point out.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            i know that.
                            for reasons unrelated to this thread, i am always on the lookout for the well-kept single ones.

                      2. It is not intentional discrimination, but I am surprised that the manager wouldn't honor a coupon for you when you explained your situation. After all, if you were determined to use a coupon, you could go alone or with a friend to the restaurant, sit down, order plenty of food, use the coupon, then take a bite and have them doggy bag it all up for home. Not that you would do that, but it seems silly for a restaurant manager to hold to a technicality of their own coupon (by denying those few disabled persons requesting accommodation), instead of wanting you and your wife to be happy and valued regular customers.

                        Critical thinking skills seems to be lacking for them.

                        24 Replies
                        1. re: sedimental

                          It could be that the manager does not have much power.

                          1. re: sedimental

                            While it is discrimination - it is discrimination against those that order take-away as opposed to eat-in. While in this case, your partner with a disability is being discriminated - so is the family that regularly relies on take-away after sporting practice instead of eat-in given that they have dirty kids.

                            I agree though that the greatest error in this is the manager not being savvy enough to recognize a regular customer and find some kind of solution. Perhaps not the exact discount as stated on the birthday coupon, but some way to recognize a regular customer.

                            1. re: cresyd

                              maybe mucho gordo is a "regular customer" or maybe he just comes around when the coupons are being offered.
                              the "coupon-only" customers are not in the same category as "regular customers"

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Very true. In the case of a regular customer, I would want to see more discretion by the manager. But even in the case of a non-regular customer, let's say that the manager had apologized for not being able to change the coupon but would be happy to give a free dessert (or something else easier for him to give away) - that may have gone a long way to smoothing over the situation.

                                1. re: cresyd

                                  i never gave any slack to the customer who just came around for coupon deals or other special loss-leader deals.

                                  no need to "smooth over" the situation with customers who only show up with coupons. it would be better if they would go to someone else's restaurant.

                                  never would say it to their face, but GOOD RIDDANCE.

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    <that may have gone a long way to smoothing over the situation>

                                    Sure. I'm curious why anyone would think every manager feels they have to accommodate everyone's needs?
                                    There are some customers, and I'm not pointing fingers at the OP. that are just not worth the restaurant's worries.

                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      I don't see this as accommidating everyone's needs - but rather generating good will with customers, perhaps increasing the frequency that one would frequent the business, recommend the business to friends and other advertising benefits.

                                      No, the restaurant does not have to do coupons. Doesn't not have to ever give anything away ever at any time - but they do for advertising reasons. In this case, the lingering feeling by this customer is that this business is not sympathetic to his life situation. To the extent that this customer felt inclined to go online and post about a souring experience. I don't see this post going viral, but this level of negativity could have perhaps been mitigated had there been some either kind of freebie/discount/gift the manager had arranged.

                                      I don't see this as apart of accomidating everyone's specific need, just good customer service/advertising.

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        <but rather generating good will with customers, perhaps increasing the frequency that one would frequent the business...>

                                        Naively, I used to think that. I no longer do.

                                        1. re: cresyd

                                          the odds of someone who comes in and plays any variety of the "coupon game"* turning into a "good" customer, are, in my experience, slim to none.

                                          far better to have them LEAVE.

                                          * here are some varieties of the "coupon game:"
                                          1) i know the coupon is expired but i want you to give me the discount anyway.
                                          2) i know the coupon says "alcoholic beverages" not included, but i want you to give me different coupon terms than you give anybody else and include them for the purposes of the coupon.
                                          3) i know the coupon states that the deal is offered from 4pm to 6pm only and now it's 7:30, but i want you to give me the coupon deal anyway.
                                          4) i know the coupon says "dine in" only, and i'm ordering take out, but i want you to give me the coupon rate.
                                          5) i know the "early bird special" doesn't include steak dinners, but i want you to give me the early bird rate on my steak dinner anyway.

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            <the odds of someone who comes in and plays any variety of the "coupon game"* turning into a "good" customer, are, in my experience, slim to none.>

                                            Yet the reverse can be true. First of all, I don't know if I would call them games, but aside from the definition disagreement (which we have more than necessary in this thread), let's get to the basic.

                                            People who want the coupons extend to them in special conditions may not turn into a super good customer when the offer is accommodated. However, they may walk away with a negative feeling and may never visit the restaurant after they are turned down.

                                            As cresyd said, " In this case, the lingering feeling by this customer is that this business is not sympathetic to his life situation. To the extent that this customer felt inclined to go online and post about a souring experience."

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              <far better to have them LEAVE.>

                                              That can bite you in the end. I purchased a coupon at a Fund Raiser once. When my Wife and I went in to redeem it, we we're told it was good for only certain nights. We were quite prepared to have a meal anyway and come back a second night to use the coupon, but the Server told us she' had checked to see if it was ok anyway and it was approved. Come to pay the bill the, Manager came out and did have an issue with it. She gave us a long speech that she made it clear that there were restrictions when she donated the coupon, how she knew we were now mad and that we would not come back and eat again because of it. I didn't say a word but I did leave with the attitude that if that is how she feels, yes I won't eat there again. And I haven't.

                                              Bottom line, coupon or money wasn't the issue, just the treatment.

                                              1. re: mike0989

                                                If the manager approved the coupon before you ate, why would she later think you "you were now mad"?

                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                    Evident miscommunication between the Manager and the Server. The Manager however was an A** and assumed I was mad without my having said a word. She was just playing "write them off and move on"

                                                    1. re: mike0989

                                                      The manager may simply want to vent. Knowing venting will piss you, he/she still feel the need to. Hey, it is not uncommon.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        Maybe, but then vent to the server. If she had simply said there was a misunderstanding and looked for a sign as to where I was willing to take it. Things would have been fine. I was quite prepared to pay for the entrie meal and come back another evening. But, she decided she knew my mind already. Well guess what. When all was said and done she was right. I was mad (or should say I got that way) and I didn't go back.

                                                        1. re: mike0989

                                                          I have a little, silent hope for restaurants/managers who treat their customers like that.

                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            <Maybe, but then vent to the server. If she had simply said there was a misunderstanding and looked for a sign as to where I was willing to take it.>

                                                            I know. It sometime makes no business sense, and I was guilty of similar behavior. The manager has the choice of simply (politely) denying your coupons, but instead she decided that she will be *nice* to you to honor/extend the coupon, but then she got upset and mad because she thought she was being take advantage of, so then she vented.

                                                            I have done similar things when I taught (TA). Students would ask for extra lab time or extra teach time, or extra point projects....whatever. Instead of just saying "No, I cannot staying longer than the class time", I would try to be *nice* to give them extra time to finish their lab works. While at it, I would increasing get more upset that I shouldn't have and would say things like"You know that I don't really need to be here, right" "Why can't you guys concentrate during class and finish your lab in time?"

                                                            While I was able to get away with this as their superior, that manager couldn't get away this in the restaurant business.

                                                            No, I am not agreeing with her behavior. I am just saying that I have been in that situation before, so it is difficult for me to be overly critical of her.

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                                                                At times like that I envision a huge spontaneous combustion.
                                                                In this case the manager gets so riled, so heated and so self-important that it can't help but happen.

                                                    2. re: mike0989

                                                      your situation is very different than the normal coupon games.

                                                      you CONFIRMED beforehand that it would be honored.

                                                      that should have been the end of the story, period.
                                                      i would have been as justifiably irritated as you were.

                                                    3. re: westsidegal

                                                      Isn't all business in some respects a game? Whether the game is being played by the business or the consumer, on some level there is a bit of push and pull around trying to get the best deal.

                                                      In the Middle East, loud haggling is the norm, whereas in North America figuring out how to use coupons are more the norm. I'm sure there are definitely coupon users who make business owners or managers figure - best to just not deal with this customer anymore. But coupons are hardly new. If they were a broken system then the advertising/business world would have sought something new. Apple is one of the very few businesses that rely on a model of 'no sales ever'. The attempts to bring that to JC Penny (by a former Apple exec) hasn't really worked.

                                                      Also - as someone who as a teen worked in at Starbucks - even on the lowest rung, I had some discretion over giving free drinks. Whether to myself or family/friends. Or even just the knowledge of "hey, that mug over there was just discounted to $2, if you buy that it comes with a free drink which will save you 50% on this very large blended beverage you want to order". I have a hard time believing that as a 17 year old at Starbucks, I had more autonomy to be helpful and sympathetic to a customer than a manager at Tony Roomers'.

                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                        when i was a teen working in a hot dog stand i had LOTS more autonomy to do anything i wanted than i did later on as a restaurant manager.
                                                        what you"have a hard time believing," was, in fact my life.

                                                        at the hot dog stand i could control the tv entirely.
                                                        (when richard nixon was giving his cambodia speech, i told the customers that we weren't going to be watching it)
                                                        i could kick a customer out without prior approval and without any higher authority questioning me later on about it.
                                                        i could declare a 150 shipment of meat to be "not up to our standards" and insist that the supplier replace it.
                                                        and on and on and on

                                                        as a manager, it was my job to make sure company policy was followed and not to have the fall out of such following bother anybody else higher up in the organization.

                                          2. re: sedimental

                                            that's why, when you actually have some skin in the game, you presumably will do things differently.

                                            the chain has a multimillion dollar operation to run.
                                            the only way that this doesn't descend into madness is for there to be policies in place that employees are expected to follow.
                                            the policies are normally put in place by the folks at corporate office.
                                            the restaurant employees are expected to execute the policies.

                                            iirc, the operation has been able to survive in the grindinlgly competitive restaurant business since the early 70's.
                                            maybe give them a little credit for knowing something about how to run a restaurant chain?

                                          3. If the place is in compliance with ADA I don't believe this can be interpreted as discrimination. Using very obvious situations; would one with disabilities that prevented him/her from safely sky diving, horseback riding, playing football, Alpine trekking, sitting on an airplane for 12 plus hours, etc. been discriminated against? Probably not.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                              How can the restaurant be compliant with the ADA if they will not allow the wife to accompany her husband? Better stated might be the wife cannot accompany her husband.

                                              Re: Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

                                              "Under Title III, no individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation. "Public accommodations" include most places of lodging (such as inns and hotels), recreation, transportation, education, and dining, along with stores, care providers, and places of public displays, among other things."


                                              So then, doesn't this restaurant discriminate against those people with disabilities?

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                I believe it was the diners choice not to enter the facility/ restaurant. In our restaurant we welcomed a family many times that needed a space sufficient to accommodate a gurney for one of their children. Without going into specifics, our kitchen would liquefy this child's meal as the child could not chew.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Not saying this is mucho gordo's wife's situation, but there are some "disabilities" not covered by the ADA because "reasonable accommodations" are not possible.

                                                  For example, if you were the so-called "bubble boy" you could not dine out and there are arguably no reasonable accommodations a restaurant could provide for you.

                                                  (Also, some old, historic physical buildings have been grandfathered and exempt from disabilities laws like the ADA. Not saying that's the case here, however.)

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    <"Also, some old, historic physical buildings have been grandfathered and exempt from disabilities laws like the ADA.">

                                                    That I can relate to as I use a wheelchair when we go out. A Connecticut museum restricted me from seeing my own work in an exhibition because it was three flights up with no elevator. I sat in the car while my husband viewed the exhibit. Nothing on the website indicated the museum could not accommodate disabled people. (Someone sent me photos, though, so I could see the work hanging.)

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      This happens with my husband too. For some reason, we usually luck out and a few men will pick up the wheelchair and carry him up or down the stairs, despite my saying don't bother. But older buildings (and especially in NYC believe it or not) you just have to say, forget it. I don't ask for their pedigree, just our tough luck. There's enough amenities available that I thank the Lord every time we go out....the handicap laws are mostly very all encompassing.

                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                    <How can the restaurant be compliant with the ADA if they will not allow the wife to accompany her husband ?>

                                                    I'm confused. Based on the OP's description, how is the restaurant 'not allowing' the wife to accompany the husband?

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      As I said up-thread, "Better stated might be the wife cannot accompany her husband."

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        As I stated also "up thread" in our restaurant we allowed, no, welcomed a family who had a son on a gurney. They were there many times and the son had special requirements for his feeding.
                                                        In this case, it is the diner's decision, I believe.

                                                2. I imagine that they want to sell you some liquor, thus the dine-in restriction.

                                                  No it isn't discrimination at all, it is just the deal they are offering you.

                                                  1. Some clarification.

                                                    When you say that your wife has disabilities that prevent her "form dining in any place" I presume you mean that the Tony Roma's complies with the ADA but it is something particular about your wife's condition that prevents any establishment from accommodating her disability, is that right?

                                                    If so, then no there is no discrimination involved here. You're just sort of out of luck unfortunately.

                                                    It would be like if your wife is a Jew and strictly kosher and because Tony Roma's isn't, you cannot dine out at Tony Roma's with her.

                                                    This is unfortunately a "you" problem and not a "them" problem.

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      That restriction clearly excludes someone who wants to eat there but is bedridden. Since my entree is free, they're losing out on the wife's entree, apps and the drink I would consume while waiting for my order.

                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                        They're not losing out; they want in house diners, probably to raise the profits that come with beverage selling.

                                                        If they felt the need to encourage take out, they would have offered that incentive instead.

                                                        What's really unfair is life, ultimately. As I told my child, the sooner you accept that, the fewer disappointments you'll have.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          Exactly; they're not losing out. The order would be the same either way.

                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                            You'd order wine, beer, other drinks for takeout? Look, they advertised for diners, not take out. They clearly see the need for one to boost business and not the other.

                                                        2. re: mucho gordo

                                                          What if someone is blind and wants to eat at the restaurant. The restaurant doesn't offer braille on their menu. Is the restaurant being discriminatory against blind people?

                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't require restaurants to provide Braille menus if there's someone available who can read the menu to a patron who's visually impaired.

                                                            1. re: mcgeary

                                                              I had no idea.

                                                              Even with people I know, who are disabled, I don't keep up with current codes and laws.
                                                              I have heard, however, of some disabled who make it a practice to play sheriff at various restaurants and blow the whistle if there's the slightest infraction.

                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                "I have heard, however, of some disabled who make it a practice to play sheriff at various restaurants and blow the whistle if there's the slightest infraction."

                                                                Yes - and apparently when there's no infraction at all.

                                                                1. re: NE_Wombat

                                                                  Yeah, we had one here on the Central Coast a few years back. He would go into a restaurant, look for code violations, then "Trip and hurt himself". The resulting lawsuits went on for a while until some sharp Investigator noted he had tripped and fallen in three restaurants on the same day.

                                                                  1. re: mike0989

                                                                    I've heard these stories. Every town has at least one of these losers.

                                                                    I love when karma comes to visit them.

                                                              2. re: mcgeary

                                                                Only about ten percent of legally blind people read Braille anyway, almost all of those people who learned it as their primary reading language as children. It's a bitch to learn when you're older, which most people are when their vision becomes impaired.

                                                            2. re: mucho gordo

                                                              so, they would lose out on giving you a free entree in order to have you pay for your wife's entree?

                                                              doesn't seem like much of a loss to me.

                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                I don't see the point you're making here mucho gordo.

                                                                Yes, Tony Roma's would lose out on the drink you would consume while waiting for your take-out order,* but so what?

                                                                If they let you do take out their severs would also lose on the tip.

                                                                (*Would you be picking up your order alone? You're not going to drink and then drive, are you?)

                                                            3. And honestly ... do you really want "take out" Tony Roma's?


                                                              1. My two cents worth.

                                                                1. A person using discrimination to select wine is a good thing. That is one commonly accepted use of the word. Another commonly accepted use of the term is when a person or group is discriminated AGAINST, implying an arbitrary AND conscious decision to prevent a person or group from participating in activities or receiving benefits available to others. There was certainly no intent on the restaurant's part to prevent disabled people from getting take-out. The OP indicates that they do it all the time. I agree with PegS that crying fowl for every circumstance that inadvertently affects someone dilutes the power of the word. And it encourages people to seek special privileges. Clearly that is not the case of the OP and his wife. But, not every law or rule can cover every legitimate exception. That's what judges are for...and restaurant managers.

                                                                2. That particular manager is a jackass.

                                                                1. Dine-in only restrictions are generally in place so that they can upsell you appetizers, desserts and most importantly beverages, which are the majority of their actual profits for a lot of restaurants. It would be nice of them to make an exception for you -- especially if you ordered a couple of sodas to go -- but the coupons themselves have a valid reason behind them, so it's not discriminatory.

                                                                  1. Of course not. They had no idea about your wife's restrictions when they sent the coupon so it would be impossible for them to discriminate against her. Many places don't even do carry out. Not discriminatory in any way.

                                                                    1. Every offer I've ever received has had llimits. One clothing outfit sometimes limits its sales to its stores, sometimes they're online only, sometimes both. If you choose to borrow trouble, you can complain that the in-store-only offer discriminates against shut-ins, and/or that the online-only offer discriminates against people without internet access at home. But what use is that? If an offer isn't convenient or practical for me to take up, I shrug my shoulders and pay the normal price. After all, nothing compels a business to make any special offers at all.

                                                                      1. It's not discrimination. If they said "not valid for people using walkers or purple skinned people", then yes, that would've been discrimination. They are allowed to eliminate a group of people based on non-illegal reasons, such as eat-in versus take-out. You have the option of eating at the restaurant, but you choose not to due to your wife's health issue. They aren't telling you not to eat there. You also have the option of eating at the restaurant with someone other than your wife, such as a friend. You aren't limited to eating there with your wife and no one else.

                                                                        It's no different than Disneyland offering a SoCal Resident discount. They aren't discriminating against people in Northern California - they are offering an incentive to the SoCal residents. That's not illegal.

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                          I'm not saying it's illegal; just inconsiderate, perhaps. It's not just the free entree. I would be buying one for Mrs. G., probably ordering an app or 2 and sitting at the bar nursing a drink while I wait for my order. They're not losing anything by letting me take-out,

                                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                            Mucho, if you want a friend in Vegas, get a dog...:)

                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              Already got one, Veggo, and he eats more than I can.

                                                                            2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                              I'm not even sure it's inconsiderate.

                                                                              What's so inconsiderate about it?

                                                                              If the free offer came with the disclaimer "must order an alcoholic beverage" and the person in question was (for example) a devout Mormon, would that also be inconsiderate?

                                                                              It would be just one of those situations in life where "one size does not fit all" and no one is really at fault, or certainly not colored as "inconsiderate" ...

                                                                              One could arguably say that you are being "inconsiderate" in calling out Tony Roma's in this fashion for a situation that is totally out of the restaurant's control, and is really no fault of their own. In fact, they are trying to offer a free benefit and what do they get in return? Being called "inconsiderate"? What's that old, tired saying? No good deed goes unpunished?

                                                                              Look, I'm not trying to sound crass or insensitive to your wife's condition, but there are some things in life that you simply cannot lay blame on anyone. It's an unfortunate dilemma you find yourself in, but such is life.

                                                                              It just sounds like you're looking for sympathy in a situation where none is called for.

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                What do you think would happen if they didn't have that restriction? I'm not asking for sympathy; just a level playing field.

                                                                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                  we, as chowhounds speculating on such things is imho silly.
                                                                                  we, unlike the restaurant operators, don't have REAL SKIN IN THE GAME.

                                                                                  (what if pigs could fly?)

                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                    You're right. There's nothing to speculate. Whether I dine in or take out, my order would be the same. We don't drink, order apps (unless it's included) or dessert.

                                                                                  2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                    What do you think would happen if they didn't have that restriction? I'm not asking for sympathy; just a level playing field.

                                                                                    What would happen? Dunno, probably not this thread.

                                                                                2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                  Besides trying to drum up business....in dining promotions are also meant to help the servers keep busy and make money.....and bring life into the dining area. Diners do not like to see an empty room.

                                                                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                    How about this. You use the coupon by eating in by yourself and then order take out for your wife?

                                                                                3. It is discrimination, but I doubt if it is an illegal form of discrimination.

                                                                                  1. i don't see take-out diners as being a protected class nor do i feel that they should be a protected class.

                                                                                    there are lots of times i've wanted to use such a coupon and bring the food home because my daughter works 24 hour shifts and it would be a kindness to have some good, already-prepared food ready for her when she walks in the door.

                                                                                    still, i DON'T see it as even remotely the restaurant's job nor it's responsibility to provide for her needs.
                                                                                    i just buy the food at regular price in those situations.

                                                                                    to me, the restaurant doesn't owe ANYBODY a meal at a reduced price. they are not REQUIRED to even offer this deal at all.
                                                                                    so it logically follows that i don't see it as the restaurant's responsibility at all to provide their food at a reduced price for your wife, or my daughter, or anyone else.

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                      I think that the major thing in this is case is that the discriminated against "class" here is the take-away diner. In mucho gordo's case the reason for take-away is disability based, but there are cases like your daughter, or a single person who prefers take-away to eating alone in a restaurant, or someone just from the gym or sporting practice who feels that they're too dirty to eat in a restaurant, etc.

                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                        That's not malignant discrimination of any kind, it's called marketing to attract the consumer behavior you feel your business needs to encourage.

                                                                                        In this case, in house diners.

                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                          Completely agree. But for the people saying it's not discrimination, I do disagree. It's just not discrimination that's against federal law or good ethics.

                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                            Why is it against "good ethics"?

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              cresyd said it *isn't* against good ethics in a post agreeing with mine directly above that it's not unfair discrimination.

                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                My bad. Too much morning caffeine.

                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                  "My bad. Too much morning caffeine."

                                                                                                  As if that's possible! :-)

                                                                                    2. It's no more discrimination than a blind person getting a coupon for a free car wash.

                                                                                      Use it, don't use it. Unless they've named your wife on the coupon, you aren't even required to have her present.

                                                                                      1. I would say it's bad luck, but not discrimination.

                                                                                        A similar situation would be getting a coupon for a free shrimp dinner, when you're allergic to shrimp. You could ask the restaurant to substitute something that you could eat, but if they decide not to, they're not discriminating against you because of your allergies.

                                                                                        1. Life isn't fair. Get over it. Tony Roma's is mediocre at best anyway.

                                                                                          1. Not discrimination - unfortunate, but not discrimination. It would be nice if the manager made an exception, but he's under no obligation to do so.

                                                                                            In Europe, it's cheaper to do takeout than it is to sit in the restaurant -- is that discrimination for those who have no place to sit down and eat that meal?

                                                                                            1. 1. if you have had the problem w/multiple locations, it's probably a corporate policy. Which means the managers don't have veto power even if they want to.

                                                                                              2. Coupons are gifts. Not all gifts are useful. For exaple, I have a Panera loyalty card, and I use it for when I buy coffee from there. Eventually I earned enough points for a free bagel, but I can't eat gluten. So, I can't use that particular coupon. I could demand they give me something else, but I kind of doubt I'd get anywhere with that. I don't expect their pre-set, automated freebie program to accomodate my special needs, nice though that may be. In the end, someone else got my free bagel.

                                                                                              1. Here's a suggestion.

                                                                                                Why not choose another restaurant, perhaps even a better one than Tony Roma's, order takeout from there and celebrate your birthday joyously with your wife at home.

                                                                                                Then use your Tony Roma's coupon with a friend who can eat out at another time.

                                                                                                Win-win, right?

                                                                                                After all, do you really want to celebrate your birthday with take-out, reheated parboiled ribs from Tony Roma's? If I were your wife, that might be grounds for divorce ...

                                                                                                1. I'm just wondering....if Tony Roma's or any other restaurant for that matter, did not offer take-out services.....would that be discriminating in your view as well?

                                                                                                  for the record, it's not unusual to place conditions to validate the coupon offered.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                    i know of a few sushi bars that won't provide any take out service at all.

                                                                                                    i also can think of a couple of places that offer ONLY take out.

                                                                                                    d'ya think that it would be insinuated that the "take out only" places were discriminatory because some disabled people would be more "comfortable" having service and a table "because of their disability?"

                                                                                                    in this case, however, the restaurant was actually willing to pack up the food to go, they just weren't willing to offer a special coupon price on the food to go.

                                                                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                        thank you.
                                                                                                        we could start a thread and call it:
                                                                                                        IS IT DISCRIMINATION?

                                                                                                      2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                        I think I would discrimate against a sushi place that offered take-out ...

                                                                                                    1. My dear mom suffered from Alzheimer's for a number of years. She was the consummate old school housewife, who took care of the household and did all things for my dad. Because my father had been catered to for their entire marriage leading up to her diagnosis, he was ill-equipped to take care of my mother. As her skills and memory became more compromised, they started to eat out or do takeout - something they rarely did before.

                                                                                                      My family lives close enough to where we were able to help take care of my parents' chores and errands. As the illness progressed, my parents became increasingly dependent on us. We all started eating out together more often - time became more of a premium as care taking became more extensive. It was also nice for my mom to have a change of scenery as well (at first). As her dementia worsened, eating out progressively became less of an option - anyone who has been through this knows how difficult going out in public with an increasingly dementia-compromised person can be. We started ordering take out on several nights - often times at the places we used to eat out at. We were just thankful that many of these places either did take out as a regular part of their business, or were kind enough to accommodate us. But the bottom line is our eating options were fewer and farther between. We accepted this. Given my mom's limitations, we found it very impractical to go out. Too bad for us, but that's life. LImitations and compromises are the reality of life - even more so when a loved one is disabled.

                                                                                                      I can understand the OP's question given his wife's condition. Somewhat like my mom's situation, going out to eat may be just too much of a burden for whatever reason. At the same time, I have to wonder - if a business extends itself with some sort of offer with stated limitations that seem reasonable, why would the OP pursue it given that those limitations just don't fit his situation? I don't know how many other choices the OP has but I think it's safe to assume that there were other options.

                                                                                                      To me, the OP's issue relative to TR's is an awkward situation. We can't assume that the manager actually has the power to bend, as he works for a big faceless corporation that might have rigid policies and probably is not doing as well as it would like - read coupon. And while the OP stated the manager eventually agreed with him on the issue, we don't know if he was just trying to placate the OP, what is abilities of reasoning are, nor do we know how well versed he is on company policy as well as issues relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

                                                                                                      The altruistic side of me says that if the manager were able to, cut the OP some slack and pack the meal to go - one circumstance like this won't kill his unit.

                                                                                                      The realistic side of me tells me that the coupon states limitations that just don't work for me. It's not worth my time or effort to have the restaurant retool it - I had much more pressing issues to deal with. Time to move on.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                        "As her dementia worsened, eating out progressively became less of an option - anyone who has been through this knows how difficult going out in public with an increasingly dementia-compromised person can be. "

                                                                                                        Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. I've been eating out weekly with my dementia afflicted MIL and my SIL and I were just discussing how uncomfortable and diffucult this is becoming after several years and how we're not going to be able to continue for just such reasons.

                                                                                                        I can also imagine what diffuculty may be facing the OP, and how little frustrations can be come magnified when they add to a big heap.

                                                                                                      2. Technically and legally....not discrimination.........just lousy customer service

                                                                                                        1. If I were the manager, it would be hard for me to deny you the discount.

                                                                                                          I wouldn't feel legally compelled, but in your case I would extend the offer without worrying that I am opening the floodgates to systemic abusers.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            But that's not the point of this post, is it?

                                                                                                            I think most of us feel like extending the coupon to takeout is probably not a bad thing to do, esp in mucho's situation.

                                                                                                            The question that we're all discussing is whether this coupon condition - in theory and in practice - is discriminatory.

                                                                                                            Not whether the manager should do this or do that or whatever.

                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              Just trying to be supportive. This does not always happen on Chowhound threads, where sometimes righteous indignation takes over.

                                                                                                          2. We've removed a number of posts from this thread that were too focused on the OP's personal details and speculating about his mindset, and the discussion was getting pretty acrimonious. It's fine for you to add your thoughts about this issue but please refrain from adding comments about other posters. Thanks.

                                                                                                            1. It may have to do with how restaurants turn profits. Much of their profits are on drinks - alcoholic and non. Markups on drinks are often greater than 50%. Profit on food itself can sometimes be slim. Take-out eliminates drinks. So the restriction on dine-in is attempting to get customers to dine in, and since the vast majority of customers don't drink tap water with their meal, they'll turn extra profit on those drinks.

                                                                                                              So the only problem I see for the restaurant is on their profits. One can imagine what would happen if a majority of customers on a particular night decided to do the take-out option. They'd likely lose money that night, and the waitstaff would go home with little in their pockets. The policy aims to protect their profit margin, which seems reasonable to me.

                                                                                                              A local pizza shop occasionally offers a similar coupon, and their restriction is also dine in. This makes sense, because virtually everyone has a glass of wine there or beer there.

                                                                                                              1. mucho,
                                                                                                                I don't agree with you on this one.

                                                                                                                The restaurant giving away the free entree is hoping that you will buy drinks, appetizers and dessers. That sales opportunity that defrays part of the cost of the 'free' entree is lost on takeout.
                                                                                                                Chances are you don't order a beverage to go when you take out a meal from a non-fast food restaurant.

                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                  I understand what their goal is, ideally but, the reality is something else. Primarily, we don't drink, although I will sit at the bar and have a beer while waiting for my take-out order. Drinks are what they're counting on. Apps/dessert can be ordered to go so, that shouldn't have a bearing on anything.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                    <Primarily, we don't drink, although I will sit at the bar and have a beer while waiting for my take-out order. Drinks are what they're counting on. Apps/dessert can be ordered to go so>

                                                                                                                    Have you explained to them about this? Have you tried to come to a compromise? Like you promise to have app and dessert ordered to go? You know a bit of a give and take thing

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                      Absolutely. That's why the Encino TR honored the coupon. Now that I live in Vegas, I need to establish a rapport with the local TR. We were eating their ribs at least once a month as regular take-out customers.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                        In my view, the manager of Tony Roma's is probably very powerful and that he cannot make his own decision. He should have bought it up to his upper manager. So yes, you won't able to get free entree now, but I hope a compromise can be made later. Sometime big corporate chain restaurants are slow to react. A mom and pop store can make a decision very quickly, but managers from big chain may not able to do much.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                          Oh I see you have had a working relationship with the Encino TR. In which case, you should let the local TR knows about this (you probably did) and hopefully something will work out soon.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                        So, if you receive a coupon, offering a free glass of wine with you entree, that is discriminatory , because you do not drink wine? It almost sounds like you wish to be offended by something. I hope that I am wrong.


                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt


                                                                                                                          I mentioned this actually in my first response here:


                                                                                                                          My position is that it is not intentional discriminatory, but the policy can have unintended discriminatory effect. I also said that this is true about almost everythings in life. Every time a new policy put in (coupon or not), someone will gain and someone will lose. If a sandwich shop is giving out free fish sandwich, then people who are allergic to fish cannot take advantage of it. This is part of life -- even if it has a discriminatory effect.

                                                                                                                          I suppose that you and I have different usage of the the word "discriminatory". However, my attitude is similar to you. No, I am not offended. I just think it is nature of life. No one can win all the time in all cases.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                            I own a restaurant. I specialize in fish sandwiches. I have a marketing plan, that features fish sandwiches at half-price on Wednesdays, which is a very slow day for me. Some people are allergic to fish. Is that MY problem?

                                                                                                                            What if I run an Indian restaurant in a small neighborhood, then I send out a flier, with a discount, but some residents do not like Indian cuisine. Is that MY fault?

                                                                                                                            To create some sort of a coupon, that accommodates everyone, from Level 5 Vegans, to carnivores, is just too difficult.

                                                                                                                            I get coupons, and advertisements for many restaurants. I have certain tastes, and seldom avail myself of those. Still, I would never think about charging them with any offense. They are selling what they do best, and trying to fill tables. I do not get offended.


                                                                                                                  2. It's not discrimination. It's just a misalignment that most places would likely honor on a one-off basis. Most restaurants can also easily justify not making an exception because they offer coupons and discounts for takeout. The coupons don't have to be for the same or the same discount value.

                                                                                                                    It's not a question of fairness either. In reality, fair is that you actually pay the same price as other takeout diners.

                                                                                                                    Hope it works out for you though. Life isn't fair and discrimination does still exist. However, I just think most people and companies are willing to either win a customer's loyalty or justify how you aren't being treated any differently compared to others in a like (takeout) situation.

                                                                                                                    1. I doubt it's discrimination since everyone receives the same coupon with the same stipulation.

                                                                                                                      The coupon is a loss-leader to get you in on the coupon, but make some money back on drinks and other up-sales.

                                                                                                                      1. Many facets of US society are built for a white, Christian, able bodied, hetero-cisgendered male in mind as the prototypical human. The coupon represents an aspect of this: ableism or an abled-normative outlook in society---the presumption that 'everybody' is abled.

                                                                                                                        As long as the manager was able to accomodate a differently abled person to honor the coupon, then I don't think it is a problem.

                                                                                                                        I would feel very differently if he didn't honor the coupon under the circumstances, though. If he had rejected your reason, he would be reinforcing the privileges of the abled. (And basically would be acting like an a$$.) But since he accommodated, it is an act of creating balance. By honoring the coupon, he did not put abled people at an advantage over people who are differently abled or disabled, though the coupon itself wasn't made with the consideration of differently abled people in mind.

                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                          Great post. Something that very much needs to be said.

                                                                                                                            1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                              Great post. Something that very much needs to be said.

                                                                                                                                1. re: NE_Wombat

                                                                                                                                  Does any really good restaurant ever do coupons?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: grampart


                                                                                                                                    I've had groupons and local coupons for a variety of places, even very upscale, especially during the worst of the recession.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                      Lately I am missing all those great recession deals, you can tell it's over with the price of everything lately! They were literally giving stuff away for free all over the place.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                      This is already a pretty long and intense thread and that question is a whole other area of debate. If you want to have that conversation, can we please ask that you start a new thread to discuss it? Thanks!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                        Not a coupon per se...but I would say yes whenever a restaurant participates in any promotion.e.g., Restaurant Week.

                                                                                                                                2. Its not even close to being discriminatory.

                                                                                                                                  1. quick FYI to everyone, intent isn't actually relevant as to whether a business proprietor discriminated based on case law. It made seem ludicrous but that's how it works.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: peanuttree

                                                                                                                                      I can understand why. First, it is very difficult to prove intent. Second, otherwise we are talking about thought-crime.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                        well, actually, the way the Civil Rights Act was written originally, and the idea behind it, intent DOES matter. Actual discrimination is discrimination, a person actually has to deliberately do it, by the nature of the crime. There actually needs to be some guy to say "I don't like black people, I don't want to hire them" to REALLY discriminate as most people understand it.

                                                                                                                                        It's only with our kangaroo court system that the language and "interpretation" has been butchered into turning things that aren't discrimination into "discrimination", namely competence tests for employment and under-representation of select minorities (read "the minority of whichever jerk sues") in companies. And a few other things.
                                                                                                                                        Funnily enough the civil rights act actually directly has language stating that tests for employment should not be construed as discrimination. Well, I guess our courts missed that part of the law.

                                                                                                                                    2. No it is not discrimination. Its a business move to get people to eat inside the restaurant. Unfortunate maybe, callous, maybe but not discrimination.

                                                                                                                                      1. Did they actually refuse to honor the discount for takeout? You had only mentioned that the manager agreed it wasn't fair to do so.

                                                                                                                                        If the place is handicap compliant and could realistically and reasonably accommodate your wife, then I really don't feel that is discrimination. You had the option of dining in or out just like everyone else.

                                                                                                                                        In all honesty, you're already saving money by not having to tip a server, vs. people dining in. Discounts like these are mainly for people who hate going out to eat because they don't like having to leave a tip when done. The restaurant ultimately makes up for this because statistically dine in eaters end up spending more overall (the server will have an opportunity to up-sell them on appetizers, cocktails with premium liquors, deserts, etc..).

                                                                                                                                        If you are ordering two entrees and dining in, you will already pay like $5 for two soft drinks, plus you would have to leave a tip on a check that would probably be around $45 - which at 15%-20% would get you in the $8-$10 range. That's nearly $15 (the avg. price of an entree) you wouldn't have to pay for ordering takeout.

                                                                                                                                        1. I have read few of the responses to your post. The reason for the "dine in only" is because they want to sell you expensive, high-margin alcoholic beverages. I am surprised they did not make an exception and allow you to purchase the special coupon entree as a take-out. It would have made good business sense to make an exception.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                            I agree that they should have made an exception. But while the OPer is legit do you know how many illegitimate similar request they might get?

                                                                                                                                            And it may in part be the alcoholic beverage but it is also a chance to up-sell a special or dessert, too.

                                                                                                                                          2. It is unfortunate. It is not discrimination.