2 – Tricky serving dishes
The size of serving dishes further plays on our conscience. If there’s a small chafing dish with a few pieces of baked haddock, we’re a lot less likely to take more than one piece. At the big, full trays of potatoes and rice, we’re more likely to scoop out a heaping spoonful. And those starchy, filling, lower-cost items are often positioned earlier in the line, leaving you with less room on your plate by the time you reach that meat.
3 – Serving utensil subterfuge
If that weren’t enough, smaller serving utensils also help reinforce the behaviors that benefit the restaurant. Spoons in the inexpensive starches are big. Tongs, spatulas, or forks used to move more expensive proteins to your plate may be smaller, and less geared toward moving large quantities of food at a time.
4 – Insane margins on drinks
Here’s another trick: The restaurant offers you all-you-can-eat food for $12, but wants you to pay for your beverages. To the diner, that doesn’t seem like a bad deal. The food’s what you came for, and there’s plenty of it. But soft drinks are a great moneymaker for restaurants, often sold at up to a 90% profit margin. Getting diners to order drinks separately is a great way to pocket more than $1 in profit per person before they even hit the buffet line.