Food Comp Stories

The local mailers at the Four Queens for September and October included some hotel room nights accompanied by food/beverage credit. My offer came with $75 worth of such credit and Bonnie’s offer came with $50. You could not get that credit unless you also checked into a hotel room.

We weren’t having any visitors and prefer our own bed at home to those at the Four Queens, but we do enjoy eating at Hugo’s Cellar, where the two of us can easily go through $125 in a single meal. So, we both got rooms for the same night, played a fairly significant amount (because we didn’t want to get dinged for picking up a nice complimentary with no play), and made a reservation at Hugo’s.

The maître d’ recognized us and said he’d work with us on splitting the check so we could get the most value out of the comps. But we still had to charge actual items on each check, so one entrée and a glass of wine went on one check and the other entrée went on the other. (There were only three items so the number of ways the bill could be split was small.) It was slightly complicated to figure out because food, not alcohol, gets a 20% discount if you belong to Club 55 (I think Sexy Seniors is a better name for the club, but they didn’t ask my opinion), and the tax doesn’t disappear if you charge it to the room. That meant the $50 comp was only worth $46 or so, pre-tax.

Since I knew the rules, I worked out how the two checks were to be split before we ordered. This is second nature to me. When we’re at a comped meal for, say, $100, and Bonnie asks me what I’m having, I tell her to make up her own mind and then I’ll order something in order to get the most value out of the comp. Sometimes it means we take food home, but that’s fine with us. It just doesn’t happen that for a $100 comp we order $43 worth and say, “Keep the change.” Almost always, we manage to spend at least $95 from such a comp.

When I explained to the waiter what we wanted on which check, he suggested we let him work it out so as to benefit us the most. I told him I was comfortable with my own math and had already figured it out. He seemed a bit miffed that we didn’t let him do it, but he didn’t make a big deal about it. Hugo’s has impeccable service and a waiter starting an argument with a diner would be extremely unusual, but it did appear that he wished we’d let him do the math problem.

There are some arithmetically-competent waiters who could have come up with the same split I did (which I’m positive was optimal). But they’d have to know all the promotions and the policy of the hotel for whether the tax would come off in this situation. Many waiters would have created one bill for what Bonnie consumed, and the rest for me. That would have made one bill about $30 and the other one $90. That was definitely not what we wanted. So, I just did it myself.

Some players, as well as waiters, are either not particularly good at math, or perhaps just don’t want to be bothered with it, so they would sometimes end up paying more in this situation. It’s not a large amount, but over time, it adds up. Money not spent counts just as much as money won. To me it’s not hard and this time I could do it in my head. And a calculator is on my cell phone in case it’s more complicated.

Another food comp incident recently happened to a friend of mine who has given me permission to share it with you.

He had a $10 food coupon at one of the Arizona Charlie’s. It was on a Thursday when seniors get a 20% discount on food at the Sourdough Cafe. He wanted a $12 sandwich, to go, which involved a 50¢ surcharge. Okay. That adds up to $12.50. With a 20% discount it comes out to $10 even, which was the size of his comp. No problem.

When he went to pay, he was told he owed 10¢. He didn’t understand. He was positive that 20% of $12.50 was $2.50 so his comp should cover everything. A manager was called, who wisely said that he didn’t want someone’s day ruined over 10¢, so everything ended up copacetic.

He told me about it as a curiosity. The puzzle is solved once you notice that 10¢ is 20% of 50¢, so obviously the discount doesn’t apply to the to-go surcharge. I suggested that if he was planning on doing the same thing in the future that he should take a dime with him. Getting a manager involved weekly for a lousy 10¢ will kill any chance for a favorable ruling on a bigger matter down the road.

Latest posts