People Share Their Juicy Theories On Why Restaurants Serve So Much Bread Before Meals

Have you ever wondered why restaurants always give you so much bread before you even get your food? Seems like a bit of a counterproductive measure to me, seeing as most places give you bread for free and charge for dishes. You would think establishments would want you to order an appetizer you pay for instead of just loading up on carbs and not being sincerely hungry enough to finish your food. But, then again, I could be completely wrong. As it turns out, I’m less educated about the bread business than I ever imagined. Quora users share their theory on why bread is offered first and what the real business secret behind it is.

It is all about “breaking the bread.”

“There is a reason we talk about “breaking bread” with someone. Bread is, and has been, a sign of hospitality like none other. It’s not something fancy or expensive but it is a staple. To share it with guests means to welcome them and make them part of your family. When days were bad, bread was what people had. When days were good, bread is what people made every day. This hasn’t changed for most parts of the world. When you enter a good restaurant you are welcome. Yes, there’s money changing hands, but you’re also a guest and a friend coming in from the street. We welcome you by handing you some bread as it has been custom for millennia. As a cook I’d rather make a loss on a dish than not welcoming you properly.”

Two really big reasons.

Your order is taken while you’re still hungry.   Your order is usually taken before the bread has had a chance to reduce your hunger, so reducing your appetite doesn’t reduce profits much.   Dessert probably takes a hit. Bread is often a signature dish. Red Lobster is a pretty crappy seafood place (are they still around?), frozen everything (but the lobster). But their cheddar cheese-bread is *awesome* and I had a couple of friends who went there for that reason.”

Who knew it was a simple tactic to make more money?

“Give bread before taking orders, get bigger orders and make more money.  The carbs (perhaps accompanied by some alcohol or a sugary soft drink) stimulate production of some insulin, which makes the diner a little hungry, just when they’re ordering their meal.  The carbs also work against the body’s mechanism that produces the sense of satiety, so that the diner eats more.”

Be generous with the bread and I’ll be generous with how much I order.

“The psychological concept of “Reciprocity“. Put simply, when someone else acts generously, people (or most people, at least) don’t just feel happy…they feel compelled to return the favor.”

Some bread to keep you busy.

“It buys us time. I used to work solo for years. In one joint, we used to have baskets of bread and little bowls of homemade dips available for the waiters to just grab and hand out. If someone ordered food and I was swamped with orders, that would simply keep the guests happy until I got around / was able to free up a burner on the stove to make their starters or entrees…”