Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Free Birthday stuff, updated

It's my birthday - what can I get for free? 

(This is a mildly updated post to my previous free birthday stuff post - I kept the rant in as it's still relevant sadly). Variations of "free birthday dinner Winnipeg" has become one of the biggest drivers of traffic to my blog ever since I took the word "h00ker" out of previous posts.

This post will serve as both a mini-rant and a genuine post. Being a Winnipegger, I of course love free things. However, as someone who has spent years working in the service industry, I hate people who just want free stuff because it's their birthday. I mean, really, it should be your mom that gets something free - she's the one who had a tough day xx years ago. As a server, there is almost nothing that you dread more than a squeal coming from the table and someone saying "like, omg, it's his birthday, do you guys like do anything for birthdays???!!" Assuming it's someone middle aged, the omg and like can be omitted, but the vibe is the same. The more the table expects you to do for them is directly related to what they are likely to tip. For example, the table that wants you to dress up and play some silly character that's part of a running joke (this really happened to me, and yes, I went along because in theory it should have paid off well for me) and sing/dance/give free everything will tip 7-10% if you're lucky. The table that quietly celebrates a birthday complete with cards/presents etc. but never specifically tells the server that it's someones birthday - probably more in the range of 15-20%. Yes Winnipeg, 15-20%. Get over it. That is what it's supposed to be. Not 10%. However the longer version of this rant is for another post. Update: last night I served a table that when I offered dessert specifically said: "It's her birthday, does she get free dessert?" When I said no, no one ordered dessert. They tipped $12 on $175. Proof that my theory above is still going strong.

So, the reason you're really here, where to find some free birthday goodies. Of course most of the chain restaurants will do something - Montana's might make you wear the cootie infested moose horns, sing and give some sort of dessert if memory serves (they used to offer your friends the chance to pie you in the face with whipped cream, glad that's over), CRApplebee's used to make their poor servers sing and then bring free dessert, Old Spaghetti Factory same deal (bonus points if you get the guy with the crazy fun booming voice as part of your serenade) Tony Roma's is slightly more clever, they give you a card to come back for a free appetizer on your NEXT visit, and The Keg, my general exception to my "I hate chain restaurants" rule, will give a slice of their fantastic Billy Miner Pie. If I was in North Dakota I could visit every Manitobans favourite quasi-Mexican restaurant, Paradiso. Paradiso gets points from a server standpoint for only providing free dinner on the actual day of your birthday, ID required - I don't know if you've noticed, but on Friday/Saturday night at a chain restaurants it's EVERYONE'S birthday.... coincidence? Not likely.

One of my absolute favourite places in the city to nosh, fude, also does a free birthday dinner, but I keep putting off joining their VIP club thing (which you need to do) because my friends are all to cheap frugal practical cheap to ever want to eat there on a regular basis, so I always figure I won't get to take advantage of it. I seem to recall a few years ago that a car wash somewhere in the South End would give you a free car wash on your birthday, and I think Dutch Maid did free ice cream.

Update: I've recently discovered that Boon Burger on Sherbrook (not sure if the new East Exchange location is open yet?)  will give you a free burger, even the biggest meat eaters will love Boon, a vegan burger place. Boon is also smart enough to say that ID may be required. I also believe that Johnny G's does a free birthday dinner, but if I recall there are a bunch of conditions besides having ID - I think maybe you need to have at least 4 people having dinner at the table to get it?

It seems to me that years ago there were a lot more places that offered something free on your birthday, maybe I'm wrong, please comment if you know of one that I have missed, or a favourite from days gone by.
So what is the moral of this post? Well, basically if there is free stuff out there because it's your birthday, obviously take advantage of it, after all, it would almost be wrong as a Winnipegger not to; however, don't be obnoxious about it, take your free stuff with no singing and dancing (the staff will appreciate it, you're not 7 years old after all) and tip appropriately and we can all get along :)


  1. happy birthday! (and the new boon burger in the east exchange is now open - yum)

  2. It might sound funny, but I like to take advantage of the free birthday stuff just so I can afford to give a big ass tip when the meal is over. Why not spread the celebration around a bit, you know?

    1. Heck, I encourage that Vanessa! I think most servers would have a similar stance to me on this: feel free to lie and say it's your birthday, take all the free stuff you can get your hands on (it doesn't come out of their pockets). Just don't ask for birthday songs (even if it really is someones birthday!) and tip appropriately on the PRE discounted amount.

      If you do that you will help to make up for the all the others that want singing and then tip poorly. Sure, if everyone did it EVERY time they went out to eat eventually the chains that don't ask for ID would start but until then take advantage of their dumb corporate people who think that offering free birthday stuff is good for business (which, often it's not as servers give poorer service to their tables while rounding up coworkers to sing birthday songs).