Are You Holding On to Foolish Rules?

I'd like your take on another one of my restaurant experiences that recently had me scratching my head. Here's the deal: the restaurant in question has a promotion called $2 Taco Tuesdays. I met a friend there and we each had a beer while we waited for his wife and son to show up. For reasons I won't go into, the wife and son could not make it to the restaurant, but asked my friend to bring home some tacos for them. It's all well and good.

My friend and I each ate four tacos and then asked the server to place a takeout order for four more tacos, two each for wifey and junior. “I'm sorry, I can't do that,” she replied. “There are no takeout orders for this promotion.”

I immediately understood why, but my friend did not and pleaded with the server to help him out because his wife and kid were expecting tacos. He put the server in a bad position and she was clearly uncomfortable, but he recovered quickly and said, “Okay, then I'll pay full price for the tacos.” This is where it gets confusing.

“No, I'm sorry, there are no takeout orders allowed on $2 Taco Tuesdays,” she said. My friend, thinking the server did not hear him the first time, said he would pay full price for them. Once again she declined, my friend got annoyed and the situation grew uncomfortable. And here is where I jumped in. “Would you please ask your manager to come over?”

She tracked down a young kid who was dressed exactly like all the servers on the floor (jeans with a black polo shirt bearing the restaurant's logo). I watched as she discussed the dilemma with the manager, and all the while he was negatively shaking his head. He did, however, come over and explain THE POLICY.

The idea behind $2 Taco Tuesdays is to entice customers to come in on a slow business day and eat and drink in the restaurant, he said. “We expect that customers will drink beer (the place is a large saloon-style place) and maybe order more than just tacos.”

“It's a great plan,” replied my friend with a quizzical look on his face. “It's working. We each just had three beers and four tacos. Now I want to take home some tacos to my wife and kid and I'm willing to pay full price ($9 per taco). We are not trying to skirt your policy.”

My friend was willing to spend $36 on four tacos that would have cost $8 if they were eaten in the restaurant. On the surface, it appears to be a tidy profit for the restaurant to decline.

“I'm sorry, I can't do that. Early on, a lot of customers were coming in here and ordering $2 tacos and taking them home. That's why we have the no-takeout policy. I hope you understand,” the manager said. Neither of us did.

I have several theories about how and why this policy is being enforced, but all of them lead me to the conclusion that the restaurant is mindlessly serving its written policies, and not its customers or its bottom line. Perhaps I'm missing something. What do you think?