When you eat at a restaurant, do you notice things like the size of the straws or the way the menu is laid out? You should — they could be costing you money.

The restaurant industry, like any other, is in business to make a profit. And while simply serving more customers is one way to do it, there are also smaller, less obvious ways to boost the bottom line. Here are just a few.


Highlighting certain items with shaded boxes and borders can increase sales by 25 percent, while the words “special” or “new” can help orders soar by up to 20 percent. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get those items — only that you should be aware those dishes often have the lowest food costs and may not be the best value.


Assuming you tip at least 15 percent for good service, the larger your check is, the more money a server makes — which is why they so frequently cheerfully suggest things like side dishes, appetizers, desserts and drinks. Of course this also adds to a restaurant’s profitability, so wait staff is often trained in skillful up-sell methods.


Wonder why they put the breads and salads first on a buffet line? They’re inexpensive and help fill you up. Smaller plates are also used so you take less food back to your table with every trip. Think about that the next time you help yourself to a third roll with butter.


Sodas, which are typically refilled for free, sometimes come with narrower straws, while alcoholic beverages are served with wider ones so you’ll down that Bloody Mary faster.