40% of pubs charge for added items

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Foodie debate: Many said pubs had every right to charge for added items (credit: Getty/ The Good Brigade)
Foodie debate: Many said pubs had every right to charge for added items (credit: Getty/ The Good Brigade)

Related tags Food Finance Gastropub

Chefs are torn on whether pubs should charge for added items: gravy on a roast dinner, or butter on a cheeseboard, for some it's a ‘no brainer’, but others price accordingly to cover the added cost.

This comes after MasterChef​ star Simon Wood sparked a debate​ after sharing a diner’s complaint that they were charged for extra butter on a cheeseboard.

Some 46% of all 114 respondents answered ‘it depends’ when asked whether they charged for extra items at their pub in a survey by The Morning Advertiser.

Furthermore, 40% said they did charge for added items, with 13% claiming they did not.

For Kate Goss, owner of the Kings Arms in Wing, Rutland, it depends. “If you want an extra roast spud on a Sunday, or extra gravy, and we have it, you can have it,” she said. “We feel the customer should leave happy”.

However, if the guest wanted to swap out an item in a dish with an alternative side dish with a its own price, they’d have to pay, as it wasn’t always the case that the equivalent item would cost the same as the original item.

Not hosting friends

For instance, a customer wanted to swap out new potatoes for truffled fries in a dish, they’d be charged accordingly to cover the higher costs. However, if they wanted to swap new potatoes for Parmentier potatoes, the pub probably wouldn’t charge extra.

But Goss understood why Wood had charged for butter, which has doubled in price over the past year. “It’s about balance at the end of the day,” she added, “it’s a business and not mates over for a meal you’re hosting. We are all doing it to make a living and survive.”

At Welsh pub the Bunch of Grapes, it really was situational. While general manager Gareth Hutt wouldn’t dream of charging for a knob of butter or two, there was a surplus charge for extra potatoes in a Sunday dinner.

It’s rare for the Pontypridd pub to veer off the menu, but if a particular guest wanted a side portion of something, such as a bowl of broccoli, Hutt would charge just enough to cover the cost.

At the Unruly Pig in Bromswell, Suffolk, guests are charged for extra gravy​ on roasts, as it is the second most expensive component on the plate. Proper roasted bone stock gravy not only takes time, but also includes expensive ingredients like port, said owner Brendan Padfield.

He continued: “Rather than increase the overall cost of the roast to reflect the cost of providing extra gravies, we concluded the fairest thing was to only charge those customers who elect to have more."

Costly process

Padfield added: “After all, if the customer bought a tub of readymade gravy in a supermarket, would they reasonably not expect to pay for a second tub? Of course not, so I struggle to understand the logic of why we should be asked to supply additional boats of gravy for free.

"It’s not as if the cost is minimal; making great gravy is expensive.”

This was echoed by Steve Orme, operator at the Red Lion in Shepperton, Middlesex. Gravy took three days to make and included expensive ingredients like veal bones, so extra gravy came with an added price.

The Purefoy Arms in Candover, Hampshire, is not currently charging for extras like sauce, butter or crackers. But head chef Gordon Stott saw why others would, and believed pubs had every right to charge customers for extra items.

He said: “It’s a tough time for everyone, especially in hospitality, so I hope most people would understand. I for one wouldn’t mind paying extra if I asked for such things.”

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