Staring out my “office” window surveying the frozen Iowegian tundra my thoughts turn from snow removal and proper layering of my winter cycling gear (and how to convince my dog to go outside for more than 15 seconds) to the gift cards that were hurled in my direction during this past holiday season. Mind you, all of my cards are for super hot spots such as JC Penney and Sears, 0ddly I don’t receive any gift cards for restaurants, the kind of cards which are the focus of today’s frosty little number that I like to call…
LG’s Guide To Using Your Local Restaurant Gift Cards Without Being A Dick
Yes, there are some until-now unwritten rules on how to use your restaurant gift cards. Some of you won’t like what you are about to read, but I am bringing you the cold hard facts when it comes to avoiding blunders which will make your presence unwanted. It should be pointed out that this is a guide for LOCAL INDEPENDENT restaurants, not chains like Chilis or Applebeez. If you receive a gift card for a chain restaurant I would like to offer this advice: visit a “Cash for gift card” site such as Cardpool, get your money back, and use that money to dine at a local spot.
Let’s make this short, simple, and sweet.
- Look at the gift card in your hand. Read the name of the restaurant. If it is a local restaurant, proceed to step 2. If not, see above paragraph.
- Decide when you want to dine at the restaurant named on the gift card you are holding in your hand. I mean really decide on a date and time, preferably during the eatery’s operating hours.
- MAKE A RESERVATION. Yes, call, email, or Tweet…whatever communication meh-thod your restaurant of choice uses for reservations.
- Show up 5-10 early for your reservation, especially on a busy weekend night. This lets your host know that it is time to get serious about setting up that table.
- At this point, after your server has greeted and watered your table you can either inform them that you have a gift card and have been very excited to use it, or you can opt for the surprise attack method, or the “tuck it in with your bill” method. It is your choice, and neither method is wrong.
- Enjoy your meal.
- After enjoying your meal, it’s time to settle up. this is where the “Don’t be a dick” advice comes in handy. Place your gift card, along with any other payment method required to settle up the bill.
- TIPPING. You should tip on the original total BEFORE GIFT CARD REDUCTION. That means you look at the total, disregard your discount due to gift card, and tip your server on the original amount. Heck, since you are getting something free…why not tip your server extra-well, especially if they really took care of you. While you are at it and spectacularly wow-ed…send some scrill back to the kitchen. We don’t mind!
- Leave The Restaurant with a smile.
- Go Back For Another Visit.
There, how hard is that? You don’t tip on the discounted check. That isn’t cool at all. You don’t give your server a hard time. You just sit back, enjoy your discounted meal, then reciprocate the pleasure by acting like a proper adult guest with manners and an understanding of gratuity etiquette.
So, faithful tens (and you three new readers), get out there and do some (local) dining. I wasn’t kidding about selling your corporate chain cards…or you could donate them as an after-prom raffle prize for your neighbor’s high school. Or just use the card as a back-up ice scraper. I mean, it IS pretty cold out there…
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