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Restaurant Manager Tired of Comping Friends

August 27, 2010

The Case of the Reluctant Comper

Dear Erica,

My fiance is one of the managers at a restaurant downtown. He has the authority to comp certain things, etc. Friends of mine know this, and funny…there’s been a huge jump in how many of them now go to the restaurant. To the point of asking me if he’s working on a certain day, because they want to bring their friends from out of town there, or celebrate a birthday there, or what-have-you. To the point of dropping his name when he’s not even there, in hopes of getting a discount.

I think this is inappropriate, rude, and is kind of abusing a friendship. It could possibly get my fiance in a lot of trouble, if it happens too often. What do you think?

-Getting Real Annoyed, This is Serious


There seems to be a few things going on here. The first is that your friends may not have any idea that they are doing something rude, and I don’t entirely blame them. Why would anyone jump off of the gravy train, unless they had a reason? So – give them a reason.

If I had to guess (and I kind of do) – you and/or your fiancé feels obligated to comp something if his friends or family are there. Has he ever declined to comp, or said “Hey, sorry – can’t help you out tonight, I could get in trouble. But I will recommend you try the fish, because it looked awesome”? My guess is that you haven’t tried saying no, because if you did – one of two things would happen. Your friends and loved ones would say “Hey, cool! No problem. What’s good tonight?” or you would be writing in to me saying “My friends are being jerks when told they aren’t going to be comped any more.”

If I’m wrong, let me know! But it seems to me that your fear of your friends’ anger may be keeping you from speaking your mind. Give people a chance to do the right thing! And, straighten up that backbone J So, the next time they call, feel free to say “He’s working the dinner shift on Tuesday, but just so you know, he needs to reserve his comps for problem guests and high rollers. Hope you guys have fun!” No apologies, no asking for permission. Just the facts, Jack. Friends don’t want to see other friends get in trouble, just so they can get a free appetizer.

That’s the first issue. The second is – does your man know exactly what he can and can’t comp for personal reasons each month/week/whatever? Because if there really is an increased volume of guests, it seems like as with any other repeat customer – a few comps are reasonable. They are bringing in nice money to the restaurant, and that’s a good thing. And hopefully they are treating and tipping the servers well.  But instead of it being rude and inappropriate, maybe it’s just ‘hey, we gotta  eat somewhere, we may as well eat somewhere where we know the manager!”

  1. GRATIS permalink
    August 27, 2010 5:56 pm

    Thank you for this advice. You hit the nail right on the head in regards to my fear of speaking my mind. Definitely a lot to ponder and discuss with the fiance…and possibly the friends. 😉

    Thanks again!

    • September 2, 2010 11:11 am

      Let me know how it goes! Good luck.

  2. September 1, 2010 6:50 pm

    I used to date a chef. Lived with him, actually. (And I could go on and on about how awesome it is to live with a chef, but I’ll save it.) And even then, even as his live-in girlfriend, I never assumed things would be comped. (Is that weird?)

    But I don’t say that to say that your friends are rude — I think it’s highly likely that they just don’t understand how this stuff works, and no one has told them to adjust their expectations a bit. Really I’m just weighing in to brag about having lived with a chef.

    • September 2, 2010 11:11 am

      But … he did comp you, right? Or is that why you no longer live with him? All bets are off when you are dating the chef! You should at least get dessert and a free drink out of it.

      • September 2, 2010 6:22 pm

        Oh yeah, I got comped. But if I brought in a big group of friends to eat there, I always made sure people knew we should expect to pay for ourselves. He’d usually comp part of the meal anyway and/or send out all kinds of free extra stuff, but I never assumed. (But then I’m completely pathological about trying to to be the one who pays in any possible dining situation I could be in.)


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