I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Almeida today. Almeida, the town of 40,000 or so where I work about half an hour away from Santomas where I live, has an amazing number of Mexican restaurants. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say half the restaurants in town serve some variation of Mexican or Tex-Mex. It’s a paradise.

I ate at a restaurant that I usually don’t eat it because my car was getting repaired and it was within walking distance. Their food was great and reasonably priced, but I won’t be eating there again.

The problem is that all of their enchilada plates only came with two enchiladas. I’m a three enchilada guy at least, four if I forgo the rice and beans or if I’m really hungry. Two just whets my appetite. I asked the waiter if I could pay extra to get a third enchilada and he told me that they didn’t sell enchiladas a la carte. If I wanted that third enchilada, I had to order a second plate and spend a whopping $13 for four enchiladas for lunch.

Just to review, I want to give them money for a product that they sell. I am happy to give them considerably more than it cost them because they are, after all a business. I want to give them money for something it wouldn’t be terribly hard to do. I know that they don’t mind extras because they offer sour cream or guacamole for an additional $.69 so I know they know that they aren’t so rigid as to only offer standard plates.

But for some reason, they will not let me give them more money for more product. I do not understand this. I am not trying to avoid their high-profit-margin items like beans and rice because I am getting a platter anyway.

This kind of thing drives me nuts. Mexican restaurants are pretty competitive in Almeida. Restaurants are competitive everywhere. Whether I go to a place or not depends on whether or not I can get what I want. So nevermind the extra buck they would have made by charging me two for an enchilada, they’ve lost my business.

This is hardly a problem unique to Mexican food restaurants, though for a variety of reasons (primarily that they sell quantities of small foods like tacos or enchiladas) they seem to be the worst about it.

It reminds me a bit of my frustration dealing with the Ford dealership a little while back. I wanted to pay them for a service, but they wouldn’t perform it even though they had nothing else to be doing. They would have made money off of me and would I would have gone there today for repeat business, but my car broke down and I didn’t want to have to make an appointment to an empty garage.

I know that there are customers out there that expect to be waited on hand-and-foot. I’m not even asking for that. I know that I get what I pay for. But darn it I want to pay more and I want them to give me more. I don’t understand what is so difficult about this.

Category: Kitchen

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5 Responses to I Am Not Being Served II

  1. Barry says:

    I think a lot of restaurant businesses, especially those that are more fast-serving than others, are so tied to the buttons on their cash register there’s no room for improvising. If there’s not a button on there for “Double cheeseburger with extra pickles and a little relish” then you can’t have it that way because there’s no way to ring it up.

    And in a sit-down place like a Mexican restaurant the employees may have been given explicit instructions from the management not to make up special orders because they don’t want to give the waiters and managers the power to set prices on non-standard items. While it would seem a no-brainer to sell one enchilada a la carte for $3.50 when a two-plater costs $7, what do they do when someone wants a special three turkey tacos, two guacamole enchiladas, an all-bean burrito and a side of vegetarian con queso? I wouldn’t even know how to start pricing that one, so the owners probably say NO SPECIAL ORDERS, period.

    It doesn’t make sense to be short-sighted enough not to offer a la carte in the first place, but that’s what I think the reason is at that restaurant.

  2. trumwill says:

    I can understand that there are limits to flexibility, but something like a la carte enchiladas is not as unforseen a request as (for instance) adding an egg on top of an enchilada, which one local restaurant does offer but I am unsurprised that most don’t. Even if you’re not going to put it on the menu, it’s at least one of those official things you should offer when someone asks for it (restaurants do this all the time, they’ll have platters that they’ve taken off the menu available if you ask for them).

    I agree about being “tied to the register”. I think that’s the problem. Or if not tied to the register then tied to a system (as the Ford dealership was). I’ve noticed it’s a much bigger problem with chains than stand-alone restaurants, so it makes sense. Very frustrating, though. Imagine if fast food places only sold combo meals!

  3. logtar says:

    Next time just say, “Uno de mis mejores amigos es Colombiano.” see the results. LOL

  4. Peter says:

    I’ve noticed it’s a much bigger problem with chains than stand-alone restaurants, so it makes sense.

    Was this place part of a chain?

  5. trumwill says:

    Was this place part of a chain?

    Apparently so, though not a very large chain. According to their website they seem to have one (and only one) in each city of size in the state. On one hand, it’s harder for individual locations of chains to go off the beaten path since things are somewhat standardized. On the other hand, I expect chains to know better. There was a small chain back in Colosse that I went to all the time because they had an off-the-menu a la carte menu.

    In any case, I don’t blame the waiter or anyone else that had his hands tied (the waiter got a good tip, in fact). I blame whoever made the decision, whether in Estacado or New York City.

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