Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Secret Menus

Another new trend making waves through the restaurant industry is having a "secret menu." This caught my attention because it is something that we tried to do a few years ago through our newsletter. Each week, we would offer a special at a value price and only those customers who subscribed to our newsletter were privy to the information. To get it, you had to know about it. The idea was semi-successful, and it eventually led us to our list of weekly specials which we currently have... just not so secretly.

The article from the NRA that caught my attention ends with the author unsuccessfully trying to order the secret "Monster Mac" (a big mac with eight patties of beef) at two different McDonald's. This got me thinking about a couple of instances in which the "secret menu" was actually quite secret.

The first being my experience shortly after we were able to hire a cook whom had previously worked at a restaurant in Granville. When I told the cook I was going to their old restaurant for dinner with friends, they told me to order the "Super Bowl Burger." The way it was described to me made my mouthwater.  Plus, it wasn't on the menu requiring me to secretly ask for it, which really made me feel like I would impress our friends we were going out with.
So sure enough, that night I ask our waiter for the "Super Bowl Burger," and he looks back at me like I was from a foreign country, and he had never in his life heard of what I was asking for. Everyone laughed at me. Very dissappointed and embarrassed, I ordered something else. The next day I come back to work and asked our cook if they set me up for a joke? They said they didn't and asked who the server was. When I answered, our cook replied with, "Well there's the problem!"
That story got me to thinking about an article from Jim Sullivan, CEO of Sullivision. Jim is a well-respected motivational speaker for those of us in charge if running restaurants. He is such a fun person to listen to live with great ideas and even better deliveries. Similar to, but written in a narrative well beyond my capabilities, is Jim's story of the "Garbage Burger" which really is a must read. It's a short, highly-recommended article that will leave you entertained.
Here at the Uptown, we do have customers that order items that are not on our menu all the time. Some might be drink specials they may have liked from months back or food specials they might remember. Often times we might have someone request a steak diane on Saturday night or some red cabbage to go with their weinerschnitzel. And hopefully you haven't had an experience here like Jim Sullivan or I had elsewhere!
At the very least, we train our staff to ask if the request can be done, while having the freedom of their own suggestion. We may not have a "secret menu" per say, but a large percentage of the time we will try and accommodate our customers any way we can. Depending upon time and situation, it might not always be able to be done, but it sure doesn't hurt to ask!

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