What is your drinks refill policy

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tu2011
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What is your drinks refill policy - Mon, 11/12/12 10:31 PM
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Hi All,
I have a question about free refills policy and what your opinion about it.  I run a small full-service restaurant that is fairly nice with table cloth/napkins, and an average price of $10/entrée.  We charge $2.25 for sodas and $1.95 for regular black iced tea with free refills.  Our to-go price w/o refills is $1.25 and $1.00 respectively for a 16oz cup.  Lately, I have seen an increase in customers dining in getting free refills and then ask a full cup to go for the road.  This seems like a cheap tactic to me and is cutting into our cost.  With the syrup costing ~$65/5-gallon and $20 CO2 tank, our cost is around $0.40 per 16oz cup.  Our customers on the average refill 3-4 times during their meal, giving us about $0.50 - $0.75 profit.  If I don’t charge them for the togo refill, then it’s not fair to the ones taking out that don’t get any free refills.
What do you think we should do with customers asking for a refill to take out, considering our cost is high (we use stock printed ecotainer cups)?  Do you have customers doing this?  What is consider as an acceptable practice that doesn’t backfire on the restaurant?
 
Thanks in advance for your comments and opinion.
 

JRPfeff
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Mon, 11/12/12 10:36 PM
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My policy: Buy the smallest (cheapest!) cup possible, share with my wife, refill it as much as possible, and dump it and refill a fresh cup to go.  Almost forgot, never add ice to dilute my drink.

Glenn1234
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 11:36 AM
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3 to 4 refills for the average customer!  Wow!  You sure? I tend to drink a lot of liquid, and even I usually reill only once.  Maybe twice on the hottest days.   If a place started chaging for refills, I might not come back.  At some places such as Waffle House and Huddle House, not only do they refill me there, they almost always ask if I want a refill "to go". 
 
I suggest you get cheaper cups and/or raise the drink prices if you really have customers doing 3 or 4 refills.    Free refills are pretty much the expectd norm these days. 
If the drink price was raised,  as a customer I honestly would not likely even notice.   Charge me for a refill (of cheap syrup and water), and boy you'll get my hackles up.    That's my honest opinion. 
 
 
Glenn
 
 

brisketboy
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 11:47 AM
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Some of the places we eat at will not charge for refills and I much appreciate that. Speaking for myself during an average lunch at an average 10-15 dollar place I will refill my glass perhaps once. I might balk at being charged for a refill again also for me, syrup and water. This is what my company calls the cost of doing business. It is unfortunate that some people have to abuse the refill policy and to me three to four refills and a to-go cup smacks of abuse. Much the same as some folks at a Chinese buffet leaving whole plates of food uneaten but go get more. That would piss me off too.

chewingthefat
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 12:19 PM
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As a BBQ restaurant owner, 3 to 4 refills seems high, we do ask people if they want their drinks topped off, we use 16 oz foam cups. maybe 15% do, tops!
The $65.00 bib price is a rip, I pay exactly the same here. 10 years ago it was in the mid $40's.

mjambro
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 12:22 PM
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Due to the size of most soft drinks, I almost never order them anymore.   Don't understand why anyone would want more than perhaps 12 oz, never mind 2-3 refills.  A few sips more than satisfies my taste.  Then again, I've cut way back on the greasy foods which tend to require a cola to cut all the grease / fat.  (Isn't that the real purpose of a cola?)
 
 
 

Pigiron
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 12:46 PM
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People really drink 3-4 refills and then ask for a full cup to go? That seems a little ridiculous.   The more you give, the more they take.  I do not envy anyone in the service industry. 

plb
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 2:13 PM
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I've recently noticed many places offering refills to go. Our usual weekend breakfast place does it, maybe to turn tables faster. But usually it is expensive places. Like lunch today where they charged $4.00 for iced tea.
<message edited by plb on Tue, 11/13/12 2:17 PM>

easydoesit
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 2:19 PM
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Just the other day I was outside a small local taco chain (Taco John's) and saw a guy walk in from somewhere across the street carrying a Taco John's cup.  He walked out two minutes later and the cup was obviously full.  Guess he got away with it -- maybe they didn't care, or more likely didn't notice.

easydoesit
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 2:21 PM
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plb


I've recently noticed many places offering refills to go. Our usual weekend breakfast place does it, maybe to turn tables faster. But usually it is expensive places. Like lunch today where they charged $4.00 for iced tea.

 
Four dollars for iced tea takes me to the point where I WANT to rip them off, just to beat them at their own game.

brisketboy
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 2:41 PM
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Four bucks for iced tea is a little outragous. Sounds like something Rudy's would do.
 

plb
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 4:10 PM
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The four buck iced tea was at the Fontainebleau. I'm staying two doors north for half the price. But I wanted to eat there once. I took the drink to go so I would not feel so ripped off.

chewingthefat
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 5:38 PM
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A double Screwdriver at the Beverly Wilshire in BH is $27.00

chefbuba
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Tue, 11/13/12 7:59 PM
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I went to a place recently had a Reuben and a Pepsi, it was served in a pint glass, full to the rim with ice, I asked for a refill and was told that I would have to pay full price for another drink.
There was MAYBE 4 oz of soda in the glass, they charged $2.25 for it.
I told the owner on the way out that I would never be back.
The OP needs to have a policy on the menu that states free refills are for Dine In Only.
Charge accordingly for the to go drinks.

tu2011
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 1:41 AM
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I don't mind people refilling 3-4 times as the price of $2.25 is priced with that in mind, and most people refill only about 3 times.  So, that still allow us some profit.  What pisses me off is when customers finish dining in and then ask for filled to-go cup to take away.  If we serve them with a plastic/to-go cup while dining in, I can understand.  But they are served with normal 16oz glass. Then they even dare to ask for a to-go cup afterward.

ann peeples
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 7:21 AM
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I would state that refills are dine in only. Charge for a new soda if they want a to go beverage.

brisketboy
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 8:40 AM
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Yeah, that sounds about right. There are some places here that serve you in 16 oz styrofoam cups and the waitstaff will come around the tables and fill your drink, then as you pay the check they will ask if you want a to-go refill. These tend to be fast food high turnover places like taquerias etc.

Ice Cream Man
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 9:54 AM
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Just my opinion.
If everyone is giving away drinks you have no choice but to follow.
If you try to get around it you will lose.
If you focus on every customer who tries to take advantage of you it will ruin your day.
You have to focus on your total price, if ten people have 25 drinks did you still make your profit margin. If not you are doing something wrong. I know this drives us control freaks nuts, we want to have an exact cost and mark-up system but that's not always possible.

Glenn1234
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 11:57 AM
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I'm still trying to grasp the idea that the average person refills 3 times!   That's 4 drinks each!!!!   I don;t know anyone who does this, excpet maybe a high shcool boy who just finished football practice.  Where in the country is this that the AVERAGE person is drinking 64 ounces  of liquid at one meal?   Holy moly!  I need to show this to the wife.  She thinks I drink a lot of liquid when I refill once (2 full drinks). 
 
 
Glenn
 
 

ann peeples
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 12:58 PM
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I dont agree......they are serving refills in regular glasses....that makes a difference......a to go glass is usually much bigger...you know what? To go  in my opinion, is an extra charge. In house, drink all you want.....

starfire62
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 12:58 PM
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3 refills i don't think i'd have any room to eat a meal.

SeamusD
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 2:54 PM
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chewingthefat


A double Screwdriver at the Beverly Wilshire in BH is $27.00

I ordered two Jim Beam and gingers (singles) at Trump Tower in Manhattan some 7 years ago, and handed the bartender a $20. He gigglesnorted at me while looking at the bill in his hand, and I gave him another $20. As I recall, they were $18.00 each. And no refills. And the ginger ale was flat!

Ice Cream Man
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 4:26 PM
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Trump must have needed another hair transplant.

hatteras04
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Wed, 11/14/12 5:46 PM
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These days I usually just do one refill of soda unless the glasses are particularly small or they give you a tremendous amount of ice.  And the only places I take one to go is if it is a refill it yourself place like Panera or Culvers.  I have been known to get a million refills of water during a meal but that is usually at a place where they have a person who watches you like a hawk and fills you up after every sip. 
 
Now coffee on the other hand I will get refilled until they are sick of me and then I will sometimes ask for one to go.  Somehow that seems ok to me but maybe I am just fooling myself and being greedy.

easydoesit
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Thu, 11/15/12 3:55 PM
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SeamusD


chewingthefat


A double Screwdriver at the Beverly Wilshire in BH is $27.00

I ordered two Jim Beam and gingers (singles) at Trump Tower in Manhattan some 7 years ago, and handed the bartender a $20. He gigglesnorted at me while looking at the bill in his hand, and I gave him another $20. As I recall, they were $18.00 each. And no refills. And the ginger ale was flat!

 
...He "gigglesnorted" at me...that has to be the best word I've heard in a year, or more, so perfectly descriptive.
 
Happens a lot in some places.  I wish one time they'd throw a booger.
 
 

db1105
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Sun, 11/18/12 7:31 PM
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$2.25 for a soft drink? I'm ordering water.

MikeS.
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Re:What is your drinks refill policy - Fri, 12/7/12 5:32 AM
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db1105

$2.25 for a soft drink? I'm ordering water.

2.25 and more! I too am drinking more water, IHOP is really bad. 3 something for a drink.
 
OP, some places as mentioned do offer a free to-go cup of your beverage. People are starting to expect it. I guess either raise your price a bit and go along or specify on your menu that refills are in-house only.