Willie Degel’s seven tips on saving money while dining out

willie degel
Willie Degel offers tips on getting the best deal at restaurants.
Credit: Willie Degel

Willie Degel, owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse and Jack’s Shack, is best known for teaching restaurateurs the ropes on Food Network show “Restaurant Stakeout.” This time, he’s turning the tables and teaching customers how to get the most of their dining out experience. Degel shared his top tips on getting the best deal at restaurants.

1. Take advantage of special menus: If you don’t mind eating early, many restaurants offer inexpensive pre-theater menus or early bird specials. Degel says to remember to ask if there are any set menus if you want more bang for your buck.

2. Follow the restaurant’s social media accounts:
Some restaurants, like Degel’s own, give back to customers who follow their social media accounts. “As a customer, you have to get very connected to your favorite restaurants,” says Degel. “If you love Uncle Jack’s and you’re on social media, we’ll reward you. Nothing’s better than a guest liking our food and advertising that on social media with their experience.” Degel said he rewards faithful customers who post on Facebook or Twitter with freebies like a cocktail or dessert.

3. Ask servers about special deals: Servers may not tell you if there are any promotions happening in the restaurant, so the onus is on you to ask. “As soon as you talk to the hostess, ask if there are specials,” says Degel. “Ask the bartenders if there’s a drink of the day. Try to be informed.” Work all of the angles and talk to managers, hostesses, bartenders and servers about special offers.

Degel says not to forget to look up any coupons on sites like Groupon or LivingSocial – if you forgot to buy the voucher, ask the restaurant to match the price.

4. Mention special occasions:
Many customers will tell their servers if it’s their birthday, but Degel says they should mention just about any special occasion – even a first visit to the restaurant counts. “If it’s your first time here, we’ll reward you,” says Degel. “All restaurants are looking for first-time customers. We want to make a customer for life so we want to make a good first impression.” Degel adds that it is extra helpful to chat it up with hosts and managers in order to build a relationship.

5. Tip: A good tip can come back tenfold, says Degel, and a small investment can yield surprising returns. “Tip a hostess and you’re going to get a better table,” says Degel. “Tip a manager – you’re going to get incredible treatment – and you may get a free drink and dessert. A couple of dollars goes a long way.”

6. Drop the competitors’ names: Bring out a manager’s competitive streak and talk up rival restaurants. “Mention the competition’s name – ‘Yeah, I go a few times a month’ – and I’m going to want to blow you away,” says Degel. A restaurant will want to pull you away from the competition and may offer you better deals or free items to bring you back for more.

7. Ask for tastings: Not sure about that wine or a dish? Degel says it’s fair game to ask for a tasting. “Don’t be shy,” he says. “You’re the customer and our job is to make sure the customer is king.”

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.