A friend went out for a rare girls' night out at a Rye, New York restaurant. The woman she was with convinced her to try the single-malt Scotch, an expensive but lux option; but it was a rare meal without her three young children so she went for it. Having it over ice would be sensible, she thought, ordering her drinks "on the rocks."
And then the women got the receipt, and saw that the server had charged them a dollar each for their ice; he had forgotten on the first drink, so he'd tacked $2 onto my friend's drink order at the bartender's insistence. They had assumed the unusual charge must be a mistake and were startled to find the mistake was theirs. With salads nearing $20, the restaurant was already spendy, and the dollar for ice just seems an unfortunate splash of bad PR over your evening. And who will complain at the end of the meal?
Well, my friend did, taking a photo of her receipt and wondering over Twitter how it could be. In my opinion, it seems senseless; better to simply increase the cost of drinks (at $14 apiece, who would notice an extra 50 cents across the board?) than to point out how badly you're ripping off your customers with the "rocks" charge on the receipt.
Perhaps, the thinking goes, customers who order expensive liquor aren't going to nitpick over a dollar here and there. But it's also a mark of minor desperation to charge your diners for frozen water (is there a tap water charge, too?). In my opinion, the rocks charge is a mark of a restaurant with a frozen soul. What do you think?
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