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Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

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Columbus, OH
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108 posts
44 reviews
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Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

On a recent trip, my wife and I both noticed that the staff at many of the places where we had dinner did not stop and ask if we wanted soft drink refills. (Chicago Chop House, Harry Caray's, Boston Blackie's 1 of 2 times) I was wondering if this was just a fluke, or a Chicago thing, or are we just used to midwest chain restaurants that bring you a refill before you are even half done with your current drink. Just curious.

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

I have noticed that too, but from the other side. I love free refills, but it seems like they only come at suburban chain restaurants. Most no chain restaurants in the city are tight with refills, and some of them charge for each refill.

Chicago
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2. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

Huh, I've never noticed that. The places I go for lunch are always johnny on the spot with soda re-fills. For dinner I tend to be having an adult beverage of some sort and a water (which always seems to be re-filled plenty). Maybe they just tend to not notice as much during dinner time since so many people are having alcoholic drinks.

Rensselaer, Indiana
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6,970 posts
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3. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

haasmail2006, no, this wasn't a fluke.

also don't think a person should expect side-dishes to be included in the price of an entree when dining in better (or even most) restaurants. A la carte is very common.

All anyone has to do is check the restaurant's menu online (either their own website, Menu Pages or other similar website) to see how they have set the pricing.

Columbus, OH
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108 posts
44 reviews
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4. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

We experienced the a-la-carte pricing at Harry Caray's. That was the first time we had ever seen that. It detracted from the enjoyment of the meal for us. It felt like we were being nickel and dimed, like the airlines charging for checked bags. And when you pay $2.50 / $3.00 for a Coke that contains about $0.30 of soda, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, though the meal was excellent. I don't understand why they would do it that way. Either way, it sounds like this is just something that is done different from the chain places we are used to. We will keep that in mind.

Thanks.

Illinois
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for Chicago
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6 reviews
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5. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

It's not really just a Chicago thing. I've noticed it in other places I've been to. Last year, I was at a restaurant and the waitress didn't show for so long that I just refilled my drink myself. When the waitress found out, she got mad and then wouldn't bring the check. Since I needed to get going, I started to leave and the manager came out with the check. Needless to say, I tipped $0.05! It is just a lackadaisical approach to service that is becoming more common nowadays.

Rensselaer, Indiana
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6. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

OK, this is a little OT, but I'm going to resurrect this post because of a couple of comments I've just seen in recent reviews on this website.

1. Just because you have a reservation at a restaurant for a certain time, it doesn't mean that you will be seated at exactly that time. Especially if you go during prime brunch, lunch or dinner-time hours, the last most likely on Fridays & Saturdays - and particularly if you are going to a very popular restaurant.

It would be wonderful if this was a perfect world and we were all seated on time...but just expect to have some type of wait. Sometimes it could be 15-30 minutes up to 45 minutes (the usual); but I've personally waited for over 1.5 hours before and I know some people who've had over 2 hours wait for a table at a very popular restaurant, even with a reservation. Expect longer to much longer waits if you are asking for a table on the patio in the summertime.

BUT keep in mind that if you don't announce your arrival with the maitre d'/hostess by the time limit allotted by the establishment, your reservation will be gone. (Sometimes you have to be there at exactly the time of your reservation. Sometimes the restaurant allows a few minutes leeway. Sometimes the ENTIRE party has to be there at that time required by the establishment, not just a few of the party to "save" the table.)

Here is a very good hint for those planning on going to dinner before a show: Get to the restaurant as early as possible. Don't figure that you will get there an hour before the show, zip in and zip out, thanks very much. 100s of others, just like you, might have the same inclination as you. (And I'm sure you know if you get to the theatre after the curtain rises, very few venues will allow you to be seated until the next intermission - or, at the very best, an appropriately slow time so as to not disturb others.) I only say this because I'm seeing so many posts written there with itineraries which are so tightly packed with planned activities some of which are theatre-related, it would be most difficult to meet all the desired expectations.

2. Once you are seated, you don't have an unlimited amount of time available at the table. Others probably have reservations after you; sometimes there are MANY diners after you at that table. You cannot sit at brunch all (or a substantial portion) of Saturday or Sunday morning, gabbing away with old friends/spouse/family and forget about the clock. Nor can you leisurely dine at a patio table of an evening, taking any amount of time to finish your meal. There are some places which have time limits on tables and some have placed a minimum amount for the food tab when you are speaking of a patio (and other similar) situation. Even if they don't, you will most likely be gently reminded of this fact when waiter is already bringing the next course out to you to hurry you along.

3. I see many posts here talking and advising about getting window seats at restaurants with views. The most popular places usually will not guarantee these, even for special occasions. There's only so many tables along the windows and everyone wants them when there is a spectacular view to be had. Someone has to sit in the middle. Just a fact of life. If you want to wait for a window table, that's your perogative. Just be prepared to wait, perhaps a long time.

4. A lot of restaurants will not allow reservations for a smaller party.

5. Sharing of plates? It simply depends on the restaurant. Some restaurants absolutely do not allow it. Some do but there is a plate charge for sharing (the price varies by restaurant). Some don't care - but I reckon you'll be seeing that less and less because of the rising operating costs. The menu will probably tell you exactly what the restaurant's position is on this.

Rensselaer, Indiana
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7. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

Oops! I accidentally posted before I wanted to.

I just wanted to end by saying that sometimes people get upset over something which they, themselves, feel is not to be expected - when, in fact, it is a usual occurrence.

Illinois
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1,638 posts
88 reviews
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8. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

When we were in a McDonald’s in Utah last year, we noticed a sign by the pop dispensers that said free refills were only allowed for that visit. Apparently some people think that if you buy a pop, you are allowed free refills for all future visits!

Chicago, IL USA
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42 posts
19 reviews
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9. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

Chicago is like any place else - there are restaurants with excellent service. Some servers are awesome. Others are average.

The difference from a small midwest town, however, is that tourist destinations like Harry Caray's don't have to rely on repeat business. The line of new customers is never ending and so they can go on forever with average service. You're lucky you even had average service - many tourist traps offer rude service and bad food, but still the masses keep coming. That's why locals don't go to those places.

That being said, when I go to visit my family (small midwestern town) I sometimes feel like they are smothering me with attention and force-feeding me soda!

Rensselaer, Indiana
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6,970 posts
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10. Re: Why so hard to get a soft drink refill in Chicago?

With all due respect to the previous poster, IMHO, it's more about operating costs and remaining in business than service issues.

Even in Small Town USA, for example, you don't find smaller independents offering the unlimited soft drink refills which some chains offer.

I imagine that chain restaurants will be doing away with this as well in the future, as costs continue to rise.