The restaurant industry is like a cult. If you’re on the outside, it can seem like an impossibly complicated machine, full of knowing glances and sly winks, where certain people get bumped to the top of a queue as the rest huddle in the cold. Whereas, if you’re in the inner circle, you can unlock a treasure trove of secret codes and customs that could make the difference between being treated like a king, or just another average Joe.
If you don’t want to actually join the industry yourself, but still want to get some special treatment, all hope is not lost. It turns out that, according to industry insiders, there are a few things you can do to signify that you’re in the know and get that extra special service you’ve always craved. Just be confident, and don’t let anyone know the truth.
1. Asking For A Receipt
This first entry may only be applicable in certain types of restaurant, but it’s nonetheless crucial to taking a first step into the inner circle. According to a British ex-McDonald’s employee, one of the key ways that the fast food industry keeps an eye out for potential secret shoppers and reviewers is to check for those who pointedly ask for receipts that they can later claim back. By asking for a receipt in every circumstance, you’re much more likely to get good treatment at these businesses.
2. Start At The Bar
If you’ve gone for something slightly more sophisticated than a Big Mac, you might be given a choice between a drink in the bar, or sitting straight at your table. Always opt for the bar. This will give you a chance to chat to the staff that cycle through, and get to know the bartender, who typically will be there most nights should you make a return visit, and will probably be able to put in a good word for you.
3. Ask For Advice
In most good restaurants, staff care and know about the food that they’re serving. If you ask for advice, not only will you immediately stand out from the smorgasbord of grumpy clientele slumped across the dining room, but it will make it that much easier to build a relationship moving forwards. Just make sure you actually follow their advice and don’t completely ignore what they have to say.
4. Order Weird Food
On almost every restaurant menu, you’ll find a selection of tried and tested crowd-pleasers, guaranteed to offend and excite no one. Serving bowl after bowl of these dishes is only going to get boring. If you want to stand out from the crowd, ask for something strange and preferably made from an organ - ingredients which many chefs feel incredibly fond of, despite the fact that no one ever orders them. You’ll probably find your food is prepared with extra attention to detail.
5. Come Back For More
No one can just wonder into a restaurant and expect instant VIP treatment. It’s a surefire way to make it clear to anyone and everyone that you are a dick. Instead, if you like a restaurant and want to worm your way into their good books, keep coming back over and over again. When it comes to special favours, there’s no substitute for repeat business.
6. Be Social
Obviously, it depends on the situation, but don’t be afraid to chat to the staff. Ask about the restaurant, the chef, whoever is in front of you, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly people feel more inclined to treat you nicely. It might seem obvious, but if you’re genuinely interested in people, people are going to be more interested in you.
7. Be Nice
Anyone who has worked in the restaurant business for more than five minutes knows that customers can be, and regularly are, completely horrible. If you spend your time shouting at servers, discussing about how many reviews you’ve left on Yelp, or loudly talking about how much better last night’s dinner was, people are going to hate you. It might seem like common sense, but many people are apparently yet to get the message.
Of course, none of this is a surefire way to guarantee a great evening out. But, if you’ve been frustrated by your lack of special treatment up until now, it might be high time to take a look at this list and see if you could be doing anything differently. You might realise that you have to completely rethink your approach.