Anyone who has worked in a restaurant or bar can tell you, the weekends are for making money. Friday and Saturday are the days when all of our nine to fiver friends, family and acquaintances go out to enjoy themselves and spend their money. We thank you all for paying our bills.
What about the people who provide those good times? Where is their weekend? For many, it simply does not exist. I am lucky enough to work at a restaurant that gives me two days off in a row every week, usually Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, many of my friends in the service industry rarely get two days off in a row, meaning they do not get a real weekend. Considering this, Service Industry Nights are like manna from heaven that get you through the week.
For anyone who does not know what service industry night (or SIN) is, let me define it for you. SIN is a night of the week (usually a weeknight) in which restaurants and bars offer special discounts for anyone who works in the food-service industry. Think of it as a top-secret special happy hour that only those who have the privilege of feeding people and serving drinks get to take part of. A weekly celebration of ourselves and our hard work in a truly unforgiving industry.
There are many types of service industry nights, restaurants may take half off your tab or have specials on certain dishes and drinks. Bars typically place a few products at criminally low prices or discount your tab. Some restaurants do SIN better than others, but we can all agree that discounted food and drinks are never something to complain about.
Let’s get down to the real business, why do establishments do service industry nights? What is there to gain for selling goods at cost to your fellow industry folk? Although it may not affect the bottom line directly, there are certainly underlying benefits for everyone involved.
From a business owner or manager’s standpoint, service industry night comes with a host of benefits. First, it’s a great way to get the word out about your establishment – especially if you are a restaurant or bar that has recently opened. Think about it, if you have hundreds of service industry professionals coming through your place monthly, all of which are eating, drinking and enjoying themselves, you are opening the floodgates to a plethora of word-of-mouth recommendations from those professionals. Personally, when I start talking about restaurants with friends, usually the first spots I will mention are those I frequent on service industry night. Sometimes even guests at my own bar are looking for recommendations, guess which places I am telling them to go?
Another benefit is one that affects both staff and owners/management. Service industry night is a great boost to morale. Think about it, SIN is a night in which the bulk of your guests are your own kind. They understand your struggle, the heartache, and pain that comes with cooking serving and cleaning every day of your life to sometimes despicable people. Hell, they might have just gotten off work ten minutes before they sat at your bar. This creates one night a week where the environment of your restaurant is just a little more relaxing than any other night. Obviously, you still want to provide the best service to your fellow service industry professionals, but at every turn you’ll have someone telling “It’s alright, take your time.” A refreshing and wonderful experience. Also, did I mention service industry professionals tip better than anyone else? Its no wonder SIN shifts are reserved for your best, most dedicated employees – its the best shift of the week.
The last benefit is one that is a little more abstract compared to the first two. Service industry night helps to create a superior culture within the foodservice industry. In cities across the country, there are pockets of service industry workers and these are tight-knit communities with their own cultures, stories and inside jokes. SIN provides these communities with a night to come together and share stories, provide feedback, drink, eat and be merry. All of these contribute to a more inclusive and stronger community in the industry. Every other industry has their trade shows, networking events and so on, all of which provide a stronger sense of community within the industries. The food service industry has their own through service industry night, and it just happens to be a lot more fun.
Ultimately, SIN is a hugely beneficial tradition for any restaurant or bar. With the right planning and execution, it can raise your establishments market share and revenue. The added benefits of boosting morale and improving industry culture are like two cherries on top. If you are a manager or owner, consider bringing SIN to your establishment. If you are food service worker and have never attended a SIN in your own city, do some research to find what your local bars and restaurants have to offer, I promise you won’t be disappointed.