When I was in college, I waited tables and worked in bars for the majority of my scholastic years. It was incredibly hard work, and I hated (almost) every minute of it. When you work in the hospitality business, you really get a rare insight into how strange people are when it comes to restaurants and food. I noticed one of the most striking observations while I was working at a little café that sold “gourmet” hot sandwiches, salads and soups.
Menu covers and guest check presenters really make a difference when it comes to customer's impression of your business. At the café, there was nothing that you couldn’t make at home for half the price. Some customers were aware of that fact, despite the impeccable service. The kitchen consisted of a sandwich line and a wall of 3 microwaves, so they could heat up those overpriced sandwiches with fancy names. I always loved when a finicky, unsuspecting customer would hand me their sandwich and tell me to throw it on the grill for a bit longer.
I noticed how strange it was that my tips improved when the owners updated their menu covers to leather menu covers and had us put every check in a leather Guest Check presenter. By including these things in the ambiance, people really felt like they were somewhere fancy and not just another hole-in-the-wall sandwich place.