Probably Not the Way to Run a Restaurant

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: jetalone

I happened to be driving by an A&W restaurant the other day. I also happened to be thirsty. So I stopped in to order a frosty mug of root beer.

“We’re out of root beer,” the worker told me.

How can A&W run out of root beer? It doesn’t seem like the inventory costs associated with keeping a small buffer stock of your marquee product are very large. You might think that the first rule at A&W would be to always have root beer.

In defense of the restaurant, it was 11 am and the store had just opened. Perhaps the new shipment of root beer had gotten unexpectedly delayed and was arriving any minute.

Two days later, I once again found myself thirsty as I was driving by this same A&W. So I stopped in to order a frosty mug of root beer.

“I’m sorry,” the worker said, “We’re out of root beer.”

I think it is no coincidence that A&W and KFC are owned by the same company.

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  1. Fred says:

    Oh man, #31 is so spot on. I do not care when you open. I do not care when you close. But I really do care that barring emergency, you are open when you claim you will be (esp. if you’re running some sort of chain). If you wish to close your lobby at 9:45 instead of 10, fine. Just change the sign, and be consistent about it.

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  2. Amy says:

    We went to an A&W once, and the tap was broken. They offered to make us a root beer float with Mug root beer. That was something I couldn’t understand.

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  3. Ray says:

    Pizza Hut once told me they were out of medium pizzas. They had larges, but not mediums.

    When I pressed for an explanation they told me that the dough comes from on high already cut and shaped and they had no medium-sized dough left.

    I went to a local place capable of making their own dough and any size pizza you could want.

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  4. Rupert says:

    I worked at an Olive Garden chain Italian restaurant in college, and the place ran out of pasta all the time. At least once a week, the manager sent me to the grocery store across the street to buy pasta, the cheap, store-brand kind. Customers never seemed to notice the difference. Of course, these same customers raved about the awesome salad dressing and would never believe me when I told them it was just Wish-Bone out of a bottle. Even when I explained that both the Olive Garden and Wish-Bone were, at the time, owned by General Mills, they wouldn’t believe it.

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  5. jimi says:

    Oddly enough, I went to a KFC once and they were out of chicken.

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  6. CL says:

    I went into a bank the other day to get change and they were out of $1 bills. Some genius bankers!!!

    Yes, it’s unfortunate that restaurants run out of food sometimes. However, it’s offensive that so many of the above responses assume stupidity on the part of the hard-working people in the food business. So many are quick to criticize others in businesses they know nothing about.

    Why was A&W out of root beer? Maybe the product ingredients weren’t shipped by ADM, their supplier. Maybe there was a recall of a contaminated ingredient. Maybe when they were buying sugar based on high futures prices a year ago, someone didn’t forecast an increase in business due to folks choosing more fast food during this recession . Maybe orders for supplies are being shorted by corporate because operating expenses are high right now and it doesn’t look good to investors when they read the annual report; sometimes conflicting goals, like quarterly profits get in the way of an organization’s mission. But it takes less mental energy to make snarky, sweeping negative assessments of others’ performance.

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  7. mike says:

    When my children were small, we would sometimes go to the nearest KFC on Sunday for some chicken, always arriving at just about noon on the dot. They never had chicken ready and, indeed, didn’t even have any in process, this in spite of the fact that there always was a crowd arriving at this particular time. Sometimes we waited, sometimes we just went to Taco Bell. I could never understand why they didn’t sort of expect demand to be high at noon on Sunday.

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  8. Belfast Brendy says:

    I once worked for the Royal Mail and everyone in my section was given the afternoon off because we’d run out of envelopes.

    Shortly thereafter I was working for the Northern Ireland Civil Service’s Department of Finance & Personnel. At one point, no mail was leaving the building and no stationery orders were coming in because there was no petty cash to pay for them, thus I was working for the Dept. of Finance when it ran out of money!

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