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why so confusing to pay @ katz deli

  • m

they give you an orange ticket. you have to hang onto it or you will be executed. if you want to pay with cash you go to the front door cashier. by credit card: to these guys standing at the back counter. whoever serves you food has to mark up the ticket-- waiter or guy at counter. but you dont pay them. BTW i loved the katz pastrami. sensational. best in nyc.

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  1. Its an attempt to disract you while charging very high prices.

    1. Why is this simple system so confusing? Because it's different?
      At Katz's and similar places you will find that ONLY the cashier handles the CASH!! Less pilfering!! Simple!!
      Are there any CHs that have lost a icket and can share their experiences?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Motosport

        I don't think you are going to get many responses, rumor is if you lose your ticket they lose you. I know a guy went for lunch in 1986, lost his ticket, nobody has seen or heard from him since.

          1. re: jrvedivici

            I think there is a trap door and a chute to the East River.

            1. re: Motosport

              That's how the gator got in, no?

        1. I think it's a holdover from an earlier time. I remember going to a cafeteria-style place somewhere in Queens when I was a kid and it was very much the same. My grandpa seemed quite comfortable with the ticket process so I assume it was much more commonplace in the past.

          1. It's not confusing if you read the big signs when you walk in.

            1. id just like to point out that i stopped going to katz's 3ish years ago when i was basically manhandled by the thugs who work there for going inside, getting a ticket and subsequently leaving and returning my ticket without eating.

              this place is so used to tourists visiting that they treat everyone like cattle.

              1. Lately, I sit at a table by the wall. I get waitress / waiter service. I can pay there with a credit card and not wait on the long line to pay the cashier. I think waiter/waitress will take cash also.
                The back counter takes credit cards for take out orders, platters etc. I don't think they let you pay by credit card for dining in except thru a waiter/waitress.
                If you lose your ticket there is a minimum charge, it used to be $50 , probably $100 now. I think it's negotiable.
                Disadvantage of sitting at waiter/waitress service table, is that you don't get the extra meat on the sandwich, from tipping the counter guy. But I find the size of the sandwich quite adequate, so I don't need that extra meat.
                The cost of beef has risen beyond what anyone could have imagined. Perhaps it set records for greatest increase ever. The cost of Katz's sandwiches are only based on their costs and they do not work on huge profit margin.

                7 Replies
                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  Katz's is an "experience" to say the least. Getting waiter service would be like going to Disneyworld and not going on the rides.
                  The counterman lines move quickly.
                  I know it must be daunting for tourists who are used to Burger King in Omaha. So is the NYC subway system.
                  I love Katz's!!

                  1. re: Motosport

                    Bit of an overstatement there. Going to Katz's and skipping the pastrami or knobbleworst or reuben and instead ordering a tuna sandwich (do they even have one??) is like going to Disney and skipping the rides. Skipping the line is like missing a picture in front of the castle...
                    I am a local, have eaten there many times just like my father and his father (my father was born a few short blocks away on Orchard St)... when the counter line is long and I'm not in the mood... I sit and order and eat and pay and go. That said... hanging on toa ticket that they told me to hang on to is not so hard and I manage it just fine when I order at the counter.

                    1. re: Motosport

                      I love Katz's too. Did the line and counter thing for many years. Tired of the lines. Don't need the extra meat. Don't need the experience. I need the food. The waiter service makes it real easy. A place to sit, no line to pay, takes credit cards. Come to think of it, I'll skip the rides at Disney and go to the restaurants.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        ....and you can have lunch with the Disney characters!! At Katz's almost everyone is a character.

                    2. re: foodwhisperer

                      If you opt for counter service and dine in, you can still pay with a CC at the back counter. They will give you a receipt with your ticket to show on the way out.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        "The cost of Katz's sandwiches are only based on their costs and they do not work on huge profit margin."

                        $18.45 for pastrami is a huge markup.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          I agree.
                          Katz's is a destination establishment. I think the cost of their sandwiches is based on this to some extent.

                      2. You order your food, you get it, you eat it, you pay.

                        I don't see the confusion.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sgordon

                          Slow down. You're going too fast for me.


                        2. People who go to Katz's generally don't want anything to change, and that includes the "ticket" system that's been in place since the beginning of time.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Blumie

                            While the ticket has been there since the beginning of time, at the beginning of time it was handled differently. Those numbers on the front (now for all purposes, the back) of the ticket were within the price range of the items on the menu. The countermen would punch out the correct amount. Only after buying a lot, would you exceed the highest amount on the front and they had to resort to writing on the back.

                            1. re: bobjbkln

                              I remember the ticket punching from my 1st visit to Katz's back around 1970 (Oy, am I old). Still go there several times a year. The ticket system never confused me, and in my experience, the staff is pretty patient (considering the crowds, noise, etc.) and does its best to steer people to the shortest lines for sandwiches.

                              It can be (very) frustrating, standing behind a large group of "1st timers" who are taking cell phone pictures (and trying to figure out how to order) when you want order and eat. Still, I've always managed to wait it out (switching lines when possible) and ending up glad that I did.

                              On one of my early visits, I remember an older, unshaven guy, in a raggedy overcoat, standing at the counter, drinking nickel beers (yes, a short glass of beer was 5 cents) and wolfing down hot dogs. He was careful to get his ticket punched with every additional item, and seemed to understand the system just fine. Finally, when he started talking to himself (out loud), and weaving around the sandwich counter, an employee came up and asked him about paying. He had no money, of course, but the staff was not violent; they simply ushered him out to Houston Street, and let him go. That was about 45 years ago, of course, so maybe things are different now.

                              Still, I always thought if that guy could manage the ticket system (and parley it into a free meal with multiple beers), how confusing could it really be?

                              1. re: mchametzky

                                Funny story! I remember, back in the day, they had a vat of sauerkraut and onions right by the hot dogs so you could add your own. Some of the street people would come in and fill up on kraut and onions before being escorted out by the staff. Never a commotion. They did not lose their tickets.

                                1. re: Motosport

                                  Knowing you'd get flushed into the East River is a strong deterrent to losing the ticket!

                            2. re: Blumie

                              I miss the ticket machine. It's still there but hasn't worked in years.

                            3. you don't sound confused, you sound like you understand it perfectly.

                              1. I don't see this as weird, all the deli places in Montreal are the same. You get a bill, pay at the cash on the way out.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Zalbar

                                  Pomperdales deli in Ft. Lauderdale is even better. You order at the counter, sit down and eat your food, when finished you go to the cashier, tell her what you had and pay. No check. It's all on the honor system.

                                  1. re: Zalbar

                                    i think this is a bit different -- as you take your ticket to different "stations" to get different food items, with the employee at each of them writing separately on the ticket. the sandwich guy scribbling his item in, the beverage guy, any other item as well....i don't recall that being the case in montreal.

                                    for what it's worth, i did lose a ticket once, about 10 or so years ago. the cashier gave me a hard time for about two minutes, then relented and asked what i had and just charged me for that.

                                    1. re: debinqueens

                                      The cashiers are ex nuns and moonlighting DMV workers. Experts in lectures, guilt and chastising!!

                                  2. I lived 2 blocks from Katz for 5 years and the first time I took visiting family there my brother-in-law, impressed with their hot dogs, asked why I didn’t eat there more regularly. I forget my exact response, but he has ever since (mis)quoted me as saying “because I don’t have time to see three men about a hot dog”

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