Comfort fee

The only reason I am sitting outside on a November evening is my partner wants to experience the cabana.
Not Covid related at all as we are both vaccinated.
We do eat indoors at venues we are familiar with.

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The “cubierto” comes to Jersey. Was just a matter of time. We first met it in Punta del Este, Uruguay and came to learn it is pretty standard in Latin America. They do list it on the menu at most places, but you have to look for it.

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Absolutely agree.

The “comfort fees” like the credit card fees do not amount to much overall. I mean honestly, if you can’t afford the extra $5-6 either one tacks on to your bill then you probably should not be going out at all to begin with. The credit card fees are even less than that-- usually only $2-3 per $100 spent.

BUT

It IS tacky. It IS nickel and diming. It IS the beginning of who knows what’s next. That’s what I don’t like: the “Oh, what now?” vibe.

Raise menu prices a dollar or whatever and not many would notice or care. Have notes about surcharges all over the place is annoying and in-your-face.

Maybe they’ll charge for tap water next! After all, gotta cover that water bill!

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It’s not a question of “affordability “ it’s a question of principle. Like the places that don’t take debit cards but have a prominent place for an ATM charging a fee on their premises I am not going to be a patron…The only 2 exceptions are Federici’s & Jersey Freeze. In a previous life I owned a pretty good sized business & if my costs went up to where it impacted my profit margins I raised my prices, not adding on some nickel & dime fee.
I understand the margins are small in restaurants but to me if you need an extra 2-3% raise your prices and then let me decide if your food warrants it.
The extra fees are tacky & sneaky and although money wise not going to impact my wallet there are somethings ya just have to say no.
BTW in Lisbon Portugal they change more for a bread basket than a decent bottle of wine.or bottle water.

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Some restaurants I’ve been visiting have a $5 or $10 option to buy the staff a round of drinks at the end of the night, which I thought is a nice idea.

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I was surprised in Portugal, but I don’t mind their system. You pay for what you take out of the bread basket, depending on the pieces of bread, bread sticks, etc, or the cheese, etc.

I’ve gotten used to some restaurants having a cover charge. Different system, in a way more transparent than the North American system with some restaurants offering unlimited bread.

In Canada, the cash only dives, often bars, often own the private ATM , that charges higher transaction fees for transactions than chartered banks, on the premises. I make sure I have cash from my own bank before I visit the cash-only spots. The last standing Hungarian restaurant in my previously Hungarian neighbourhood is a cash only restaurant, but they have gotten rid of the shady ATM and I show up with cash from my bank, 3 blocks away.

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Same up here in Ontario, Canada.

I am double-vaxxed, and I had one brunch indoors last Sunday. The food was amazing, the service was good. About 10 percent of the other customers make me anxious. The little kids running around that get too close to me make me anxious.

That brunch last week was my first indoor restaurant meal since Aug 2020. I had 3 indoor restaurant meals in the summer of 2020.

So, I’ll be getting more fancy takeout. We had our first snowfall today and I’m not how many restaurants with heated patios will continue into Nov. My last heated patio last year was on Oct 31st.

I don’t like eating inside restaurants anymore. I used to inside restaurants at least 15 times a month , sometimes a lot more because I traveled a lot prepandemic.

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This happens when you go to touristy restaurants. Couvert at a normal/not very touristy restaurant should not cost more than 5 euros (per a table, unless your party is big).

I remember seeing a big scene on the terrace. A tourist (American accent) was arguing loudly with an employee when he was settling the bill. Turned out it was about the couvert. Everyone was watching silently feeling embarrassed for him. That was in Lisbon.

If you don’t want the couvert just tell the waiter straight away and he’ll remove it from the table. Most people do want it. I want it for the cheese, sometimes there’s some interesting cheese. Eating out in Portugal is not expensive and I don’t mind paying a few euros for the couvert (the cheese). Most of the time I refuse it, only because I’ve had the cheese before. I usually need the bread to mop up the good Portuguese/Spanish/Greek olive oil.

There’s a similar system in Greece and Spain.

Here in Jamón Ibérico heartland I get a few slices of exquisite Jamón and olives

A small plate of local tomatoes and good bread. In Spain I always order a big plate of fresh tomatoes regardless.

Or freshly fried potato chips

In Greece, if you don’t get something before the actual meal you will always get raki and something sweet later.

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Was going to mention couvert, too. Love your photos of different ones! Trouble is, now I want them all.

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Love your pictures :+1:
I didn’t mind the extra couvert charge in the few places we encountered them if the basket looks interesting.

But remember, in Greece it’s called ouzo…

In Crete and the Cyclades it’s raki. Ouzo is served with ice and water. Tsipouro somewhere else. I can drink raki but not ouzo. But won’t touch the “raki” in Albania again. There they drink it night and day, even together with coffee.

Quick read:

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A couple of years ago, neither Los Corrales nor Pueblo Magico would serve tap water. I don’t know if that’s changed.

I never had it in Crete nor the Cycladic archipelago, but was definitely aware of it in Turkey. Interesting that you can drink raki but not ouzo - why do you think that is? I can well imagine the raki being pretty rough in Albania though.

Good article and thanks for linking. So, I am inferring that even if ice and water was added to raki, it would reman clear? But, it does taste similar to ouzo? I’ve never had raki, but I’ve always assumed a strong similarity. Am I correct, or is it fairly different? I may have to look for it at BevMo next time I go.

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They don’t taste the same. Raki is a bit like vodka or soju (Korean). You drink raki straight and ice cold.

I don’t like the anis-y taste and also don’t drink all other spirits/liquors that taste of anis. And also despise gin.

But back on topic of extra charges… banchan at Korean restaurants. Enjoy them whilst they don’t cost extra. (In Korea, you get free refills for the already free banchan!)

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Thanks for the explanation; back to on topic now. Lots of good Korean places near me, must go again soon. Not typical here for an upcharge on the table extras. However the trend seems to be away from gratis bread baskets at some places, but you may be asked if you want an order of bread (for a charge) around my locale.

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@small_h @Phoenikia yes I appreciate that some towns require vax for indoor eating, but that wasn’t really my point. I’m saying something different. Countries globally are trying to get covid under control. They are asking their citizens to get vaccinated in order to support this goal. People are getting vaccinated to promote the health of their communities. And yet, if you look at the vast majority of places, it is those who refuse, who put their self interest above the interest of the greater good, who can eat indoors without a care in the world while those of us who did what was right and what was requested are relegated to eating outside and paying “ease of mind” and “comfort” fees. What about this is not completely ass backwards? Who should be allowed to eat inside and who should be put in a corner and made to pay a fee if there is a fee? What behavior are we rewarding and what behavior are we punishing? And frankly, this is not limited to the restaurant industry. My opinion of course. YMMV.

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Nothing. But other than legislation preventing unvaccinated people from eating inside, what would you suggest? I’m on record here as saying I won’t pay a “comfort fee,” but others have said the opposite. So restaurants might have no incentive to restrict access to their dining rooms since people are ready to pony up for the privilege of not putting their own lives in danger.

I’m sympathetic to this perspective, AND it frustrates me to no end. We need to come together to start incentivizing the behaviors we want to encourage.

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Certainly not in the UK. We are not generally into charging supplements for anything. Although, irritatingly, you will see table d’hote menus where a particular dish may be have a supplement - which, of course, means it’s not a fixed price menu. I don’t know about the other European cities you mention but I can’t recall ever seeing it on our annual visits to other parts of Spain.

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