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Home » Lifestyle Finance, Personal Asides, Personal Motivation

Is the “Manager Special” Ever a Good Idea?

Last updated by on January 3, 2014

“The Daily Special”

When I worked in the restaurant business back in high school as a busboy at a pancake house (no shame in that), I remember walking back in the kitchen and seeing a table just loaded full of some sort of meat or fish. And it would just lay there, hour after hour, an occasional fly or twenty swarming around. It was the “special of the day”. And I use to wonder, “where the hell did all of that meat come from, why are we selling it for so cheap, and why are we trying to get rid of it all in one day?”. I never really wanted to know the answer to that question. I don’t order ‘specials of the day’ anymore. I don’t even ask what they are.

managers special

“Deal of the Day”

In the retail industry, it’s pretty common to deeply discount items that are overstocked. In fact, there are hundreds of websites whose very focused goal is to sell off as many of those items as possible as quickly as possible. Why were the items overstocked? One of two reasons:

  1. The item was in such hot demand that the retailer ordered way too many units.
  2. The item is a piece of crap that can only sell under the guise that it’s a fiery bargain.

Sometimes, it can be tough to tell the difference.

“2-for-1 on Milk”

We’ve all been to the grocery store and seen 2-for-1 deals, or deeply discounted food. Usually, it’s because these items are at the end of their sell-by dates. Hopefully, you knew that. But what’s harder to identify is whether or not that second (or even first) gallon of milk is going to start smelling rotten the day you open it. Is it worth the risk?

“The Manager’s Special”

Every used-car lot has one vehicle labeled as the ‘manager special’. Now, I’ve never worked in the used car business, but I have worked in business and I have a hunching suspicion that the ‘manager special’ is the vehicle that has been on the lot the longest. And if it’s been on the lot the longest, there’s probably a good reason why it’s been there. Just a hunch.

Do you ever buy the 'special of the day'?

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I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • JonJon says:

    I think for higher-end restaurants, the special is great. Usually, it is fresh ingredients made in a recipe that isn’t available every day. I like going that route because it allows me to try something that really expresses the chef’s creativity and passion. I guess for me the difference would be if the restaurant has a “chef” or a “cook.”

  • kbdragon says:

    Some of the local restaurants I like have specials that aren’t on the regular menu. The only way to get my greek burger is on Tuesday special, so I’ll take it! Also, sometimes grocery stores have specials where they sell staples at or below cost to get people in their doors – I’m thinking around Thanksgiving time. If you go to $$$ Grocery to get their turkey on special, you will probably stick around for the overpriced gravy and stuffing mix too. But that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the food.

  • Kasey says:

    Sick man!

    I never even thought of that when I ordered specials of the day. But I think JonJon’s right about higher-end restaurants.

    A lot of places have daily specials that are the same each week – like fried perch on Fridays here in WI.

    But you make a good point – if something seems to good to be true it’s smart to ask why!

  • Paul says:

    In a high-end restaurant they usually use the specials as an outlet for the Chef’s creativity or to demo items that they might move onto the menu.

    That said, outside of that the only “deal of the day” things I go for are on Woot!

  • Joe says:

    When I worked as a waiter, the specials were actually very tasty items that simply weren’t part of the restaurant’s main menu.

  • Jeremy says:

    I wouldn’t do a manager’s special at a cheap restaurant if its just a special deal on something they always carry, that’s too risky. But in general, I’m all about the manager’s special. My favorite is at Kroger (yeah, I’m from MI). They sell meat on the day that it expires as ‘managers special’. As long as you’re going to cook it that day, I often swing by on my way home to see if I’m getting steak for dinner. No manager’s special, I guess its spaghetti tonight.

  • Tuan says:

    I always look for the sell-by dates on the cuts of meat that I want. The local grocery store that I go to will always have no limit on cuts of meat that have sell-by dates of a day or two, bam dinner.

  • affacturage says:

    I never had bad experience with the special. Products of the season are often cooked by this way …

  • Warren says:

    What works in one case does not always work in another case. A grocery that has display cases a degree or two cooler will have much better preserved meat by the sell by date. At one grocer, I always buy managers marked down meat at the sell by date, yet at my local store (same chain) I’ve gotten bad meat and almost never buy the marked down stuff.

    Even with cheap restaurants, there is no way to make across the board claims. Some of the cheapest restaurants are based on the idea of giving the customer a good deal so the owner/cook/buyer will look for quality items at lower prices.

  • Barb says:

    I never buy meat on managers special. My sister told me that there is often a reason why they are trying to get rid of it. Meat is one of those things that goes rancid faster than most other food items. Some produce. I tend to pay more attention to the color and look of the meat than the price. And I try to cut down on having the meat be the main part of the meal. Some people do buy the managers special and believe that is a better deal. I tend to get sick from eating even slightly late meat or milk ( literally) To the point I can not eat hamburger anymore. We did have some managers special meat that was dated for today and one of them had a little green spot and the coloration looked odd to me. I do not think I will do that again….It was dated for today and I threw it out because of a green spot……. Not cool.

  • CJ says:

    Good post & responses! Has a tone had any experiences in getting the “Manager’s Special” rate at a hotel?


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