Most servers upsell to build a check, which in turn often raises the tip and puts more money in the server or bartender’s pocket. However, there is a greater reason to upsell. Upselling should take place to enhance the guest experience, not to gouge the guest. Using the knowledge you have on the product and your hospitality desire can create some of the most incredible guest experiences.

I have my go-to food favorites like duck, lamb, scallops, a New York steak, risotto, gnocchi, rabbit, sushi, street tacos, tamales, etc. Likewise, I have my favorite cocktails like Sazerac, Boulevardier, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Mojito, and Moscow Mule. However, my favorite restaurant and bar experiences are always when I am pleasantly surprised by the experience.

One time I was sitting at the bar at a great Nashville steakhouse called Kayne Prime. I asked the bartender for a cocktail suggestion. He asked me what spirits I usually enjoy. Instead of just naming a spirit category, I specifically mentioned my two favorite cocktails were a Sazerac and Boulevardier.

The bartender asked, “Do you prefer the original Sazerac that had cognac as the base spirit or the Sazerac with rye whiskey?” I answered, “I had never had one with cognac.” He said his favorite way to make it was with both rye and cognac. I said I’d try one. It was amazing. To this day, if I can get one with both rye and cognac that’s how I order it.

It was so good I said, “OK, what should I try next?” He said have you ever had a boulevardier with scotch instead of rye?” I said I had not. He suggested I try one and explained the peat of the scotch added a great smokiness to the cocktail. Without hesitation I replied, “sign me up.” It was awesome. While I typically don’t use scotch because I prefer the spice of rye, I often will torch the orange peel to create that same smokiness.

This bartender used his knowledge to guide me through a phenomenal cocktail experience. He showed he cared enough about me not to let me order the same ol same ol. And I rewarded him well. My best dining experiences have also been when a server has guided my wife and I through an extraordinary culinary journey. As a side note, many of the experiences made me so happy I wanted to take my wallet out and say, “here take whatever you want.”

When you have experiences like this you really don’t care what it costs. You feel the value because you are valued. You not only experienced the most incredible flavors, but you also truly felt cared for. This person cared enough to take the time rather than just be a robotic order taker. This is the only time when it’s OK to upsell. If the guest isn’t wowed because you just suggested the most expensive items, then the server or bartender is just a sleazy sales person.

Want more?

Grab a FREE Copy of my Hospitality Ebook. Join thousands of other who already got their FREE copy by clicking the link below and apply the code BRE2024

Want to book a FREE Call to learn more about my coaching services click the link below to book a slot.

Editor’s note: This is the 34th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. The 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here. The 16th, on The Difference Between a Restaurant Coach and Consultant, is here. The 17th, What is a Restaurant Tech Stack, and How Do You Know if You Built the Right One? is here. The 18th, You Can’t Make Someone Accountable if You Haven’t Made Them Responsible, is here. The 19th, Memo to Restaurants: Service and Hospitality are Not the Same Thing, is here. The 20th, Why a Penny Saved in a Restaurant is Not Always a Penny Earnedis here. The 21st, on Why You’re Never Too Old for Greatnessis here. The 22nd, Why Consistency is the Only Way to Keep Your Restaurant Openis here. The 23rd, on The Restaurant Industry Doesn’t Have a Labor Shortage—It Has a Leader Shortageis here. The 24th, Are Restaurant Employees Today Entitled? is here. The 25th, Should Hotels Rethink How They View Restaurants?is here. The 26th, Five Priorities Operators Must Follow to Successfully Run a Restaurant, is here. The 27th, Why Your Restaurant Needs an ‘Abundance Mindset’ in 2024, is here. The 28th, You Can’t Run a Successful Restaurant Without Persistence, is here. The 29th, Why Investing in Yourself as a Leader is the Best Way to Grow Your Restaurant, is here. The 30th, Gaining Momentum and Why Restaurant Success Grows with Time, is here. The 31st, In Restaurant Leadership, How You Finish is More Important than How You Start, is here. The 32nd, Why Success in Controlling Labor is About Shaving Minutes, Not Cutting Servers, is here. And the 33rd, What is a Beverage Program and How do You Develop a Great One?, is here.

Bar Management, Beverage, Feature, Labor & Employees, Leader Insights, Menu Innovations