How To Get Free Stuff At A Restaurant


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Let’s talk about the big question on everyone’s mind – how do you get free stuff at a restaurant!?This is usually easier in a regular bar like Hank’s, a dive in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. There, bartender Dan Kajeckas said, “The reality is that money and sex talk.”

Meaning, big tips and flirtation work wonders on a bartender’s generosity. This does not mean aggressively hit on your bartender, that makes anyone uncomfortable.

Another thing to avoid, trying to get their life’s story, especially when they are busy.

It’s a bit harder to get a complementary drink at fine dining establishment where one, liquor is more regulated, and two, it’s against most restaurants’ policies.  Richele Benway, a server who has worked at a number of upscale restaurants, points out that you can get one as a “thank you” for being patient while waiting for a table or slow moving food order, or if you are a regular.

But never, ever, ask for complimentary drinks because that is a sure fire way of not getting anything. Also – whining will get you nowhere: “Complainers usually do not receive free drinks,” advised Benway. “We assume that they are sincere in their complaint and want it resolved, not a freebie.”

When it comes to free food, while there’s no guaranteed foolproof way to finagle free grub, if you’re lucky one of the following may occur:

  1. The waiter clues the chef onto good clients and he or she sends something out.
  2. The kitchen is unusually slow and the chef feels like sharing an appetizer.
  3.  Your order comes out wrong and they give you a dish as an apology.
  4. Sometimes, if you show true excitement about the food, they may let you to sample other items, “to taste.”

But you better be on your best behaviour. It’s also important to remember, when you walk into a restaurant or bar, treat the staff the way you would want to be treated.  If you come in belligerent or rude, often you won’t get the best service given that waiters are people, and people in general don’t want to be around jerks. We asked a few waiters and bartenders to share their pet peeves with us, and here are five things to avoid when you go in.

  1. Don’t say things like “make it strong,” when ordering a drink or “make it extra big,” when ordering anything.
  2. Don’t tip with coins.
  3. Don’t shout for service from across the room.
  4. Don’t grab for things either from the bar, out of a waiter’s hand, or from the service stations.
  5. Don’t harass other customers.

Avoid those no-nos, butter up your server and maybe you’ll get more than just a free basket of bread and butter.

This post originally appeared on Zagat Buzz.