Tag Archives: dining out

Dining Out Beats Dining In

die out dine inThat squeak you just heard is the dollar amount that we spend in restaurants annually squeaking past the dollars we spend on groceries. That’s right, Bloomberg reports that, for the first time, Americans spend more on dining out than cooking at home, something like $51 billion vs. $50 billion. Twenty years ago, it was 2-to-1, or $30B vs. $15B, home vs. restaurant.

Who is driving the change? One hint: it rhymes with Shmillennials. And the Why of it may sound familiar, as well. Millennials have a talent for turning everything into a social experience, and eating dinner is just one example. Social, as in gathering with friends, and Experience, as in having an admirable desire to try new things.

Meanwhile, the Baby Boomers are going in the opposite direction. 50-to-70 year olds report that, while spending is also up, it is more concentrated on Needs than Wants, necessities over frivolities or luxuries. Why? Because they watched their 401K’s get murdered in the last crisis, and they’re spooked.

How about you? Are you a Boomer, Gen X’er or Millennial? Have your spending habits changed regarding dining out vs. dining in? Why or why not? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Restaurant Rage

Your Hipster waiter will take your order now, if he must…

And now, a little Friday fun – or frustration (your mileage may vary.) Consumer Reports has published a fun graphic noting “America’s most common restaurant complaints.” I believe it can be a matter of perspective. I admit that I sometimes go into a place looking for trouble and, if you’re looking for it, you find it. Other times, dissatisfaction is thrust upon you. Once at the Tattooed Moose in Charleston SC, about seven of the things on the following list happened even before our order was taken (so, like, we left!)

Anyway, what are our top beefs? Take a look…

  • 76% Dirty utensils. That piece of spinach baked on the fork isn’t harmful in any way, but still…
  • 73% Dirty restrooms. I’m going to guess that the Men’s room is worse…
  • 72% Impolite or condescending servers. Yeah, see illustration above, from the aforementioned Tattooed Moose
  • 67% Sloppy or dirty-looking wait staff. Same…
  • 66% Hot food cold, cold drinks warm
  • 62% “That’s not what I ordered.”
  • 61% Feeling rushed to leave by the server. You know, the girl who you never saw throughout the meal, but now won’t leave your side as you write out the tip?
  • 51% Slow service. Cousin of No Service. Or, watching the staff fawning over “regulars” while you die of thirst waiting for a drink refill. Or, my favorite, waiting forever for the check (I call it the Hostage Situation.)

What’s missing from this list? HIPSTERS! Either ones dining next to me, ones affecting the menu (Pabst Blue Ribbon, anyone?), or ones waiting on me (um, see illustration again.)

It’s a fun list, and there’s lots more at the original piece, so check it out! How about you? What are your top complaints when dining out? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Restaurant Rant

Here’s a somewhat (very) lightweight after-holiday post. Top 10 consumer peeves about restaurants! Here are some of the ones that struck me. How many do you share?

Feed the kids! Everybody knows that hungry, cranky kids are a time bomb waiting to explode all over your good time. Something, anything, just get some food in them as soon as you sit down.

Plate timing: What’s the old rule? Knife and fork across the plate means I am done. Don’t yank it away too soon, and don’t leave it sit for the rest of the evening.

Attentive, not obnoxious: Ever try to have a conversation, and the server keeps interrupting? The tea is empty, so fill it. No need to ask EVERY time. Of course, the flip side to this is “Where is our waitress? Do you even remember what she looks like?”

Policy, schmolicy: Dumb stuff like they won’t seat you until the whole party has arrived. Or, there are only 3 tables being used, and they have to seat you right on top of each other. If it’s busy, or you are understaffed, I get it. Otherwise, you are just following rules for rules’ sake.

Can the commentary: “Wow! Looks like SOMEBODY was HUNGRY!” Seriously, just shut up.

There is a bunch more at the original article, as well as a friendly reminder that we, as the customer, also have some responsibilities. So check it out. Did they miss any?

Dining Out on the Cheap

Hmm...what should I title this one?

Times are tight, and we are all cutting back. But sometimes, for your mental health, you gotta go out! Let’s look at a few ways to dine on a dime, from an article called, appropriately enough, “Dining On a Dime,” courtesy of Today.com.

  • It’s Happy Hour somewhere! At many local bar & grille type places, or even at a big place like Chili’s, there are happy hour appetizer specials. Long ago I used to go to a Mexican chain at happy hour on Friday, where it was all you can eat chips, salsa and queso for the price of a couple of beers!
  • Go Online! Everybody has heard of Living Social and Groupon. There are others, as well, and they often have decent BOGO offers for their members. Just be careful that you don’t “impulse buy.” I have done that too often. Grabbing up a deal quickly – because they tell you to – and never getting around to using a coupon before it expires.
  • Support the Swim Team! Or the Girl Scouts, or your neighbor’s church, etc. by buying one of those local coupon books. You really can’t go wrong with these. They scream “a $1200 value for $25!!” Personally, I have never gotten more than $40 from my $25, but I still came out ahead.
  • Lunch is the New Dinner! Not really. But if you just want to go somewhere nice, sit in peace and be served – and you don’t care what time it is – do lunch! You’ll save money and you may like it enough to come back for dinner sometime.
  • Be Progressive! Why not grab a drink at one place, have an appetizer at another, and dessert at a third? You’re still saving over ordering two full meals, and you’re getting three times the “going out” experience!

These are just a few tips for dining on the cheap, while getting that all-important out of the house sensation. So get out there, have fun and save a dime this weekend!

Many more tips at the original article: Read it!