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Senseless dining surcharges
March 15, 2015, 12:33 pm

Pressing out additional profits from services that were once considered ‘expected’ has become the norm in many industries. Hotels have been blamed for charging extra for everything from providing wi-fi to bottled-water and even for rooms with better views. In the travel industry, airlines have beefed up their basic fare with extras for carry-on luggage, window-seats and some ‘low-fare’ airlines have even contemplated charging for use of their toilets.

But perhaps the sneakiest extra charges have come in from the restaurant industry where some have been criticized for adding ‘unusual’ charges to their already hefty bill. Recently, a restaurant made news for asking a customer to pay for the cake they brought in as party of a birthday celebration held in its premises. The restaurant explained away their ‘cakeage’ charge as it involved them having to serve, clear up and wash dishes after the party.

If an entrée costs KD5 and you use your fork to give your spouse several bites, no one charges you extra. But ask for the dish to be officially split into two plates and you may get hit with a surcharge of KD1.500, the logic being that the restaurant has to then wash the plate.

While the Minister of Commerce and Industry bans service and minimum charges at all restaurants and cafes in Kuwait, except for minimum charges for home delivery, an ‘optional’ service charge (expected for good service) of 10 percent, has become typical in any restaurant, as an alternative to the tipping system.

The average price of a meal out for two in Kuwait is about KD20; for top restaurants that figure could be tripled. With the added ‘optional’ this price could easily go much higher. Let us have a look at an array of other ‘extras’ that can confuse customers.

While restaurants are free to add supplement costs for serving more expensive to produce components such as grass-fed, organic red meat or rare truffles, many restaurants are known to charge for readily available products such as Australian beef or local produce.

While restaurants are supposed to provide filtered water free of cost, most restaurants will try to sell you on their variety of ‘bottled’ water at a premium.

Set menus are a popular way to eat out, as the full price is laid out in advance, but even these places sometimes charge extra for bread, olives or other accompaniments that were once rolled into the overall bill. Yet another ‘extra’ charge comes in the way of vegetables or chips/fries that are often not included with meals.

It is true that price of main courses have not gone up by much, but having a satisfying meal, with vegetables, has. It definitely causes resentment when charged extra for a special coffee, even if it only has cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Restaurants need to remember that many customers will simply decide not to go back to an establishment if they are charged for something they used to previously get as gratis.

Home-made restaurant food

Get smarter at wallet-management and at the same time enjoy choicest of restaurant foods, ditch expensive restaurants and hang on to some of these recipes from popular restaurants that you can easily make at home:

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

(10 biscuits)

Preparation: Heat oven to 230°C. Combine 2 cups Bisquick baking mix, 12cup cold water and 34cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese in a bowl. Roll out on a lightly floured surface, until an inch thick. Cut biscuits, and place on an ungreased pan. Melt 14cup butter, a tsp dried parsley, 12tsp garlic powder and 12tsp Italian seasoning together. Brush the biscuits with the butter and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Starbucks' Banana Walnut Bread

Preparation: Preheat oven to 175°C.  Combine 1¾ cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp salt in a bowl. In another bowl, cream 1/3 cup margarine and 2/3 cup sugar with a mixer until fluffy.  Add in a cup mashed ripe bananas, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp milk and mix well.  Add dry ingredients and 1/2 cup walnuts into the wet ingredients, mix until the flour is just mixed in. 

Pour batter into a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan.  Top the batter with 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Bake for an hour. While Starbucks does not make their banana bread with butter, it comes out richer this way. Add in a sprinkle or two of cinnamon and sugar, unlike Starbucks does, and it does add that little something extra.

McDonald's Shamrock Shake

Preparation: In a blender, combine 1½ cups vanilla ice cream, ½ cup whole milk, 10 drops green food coloring, and a teaspoon of peppermint extract, and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the shake into a glass and top with the whipped cream (optional) and a maraschino cherry.







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