‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question.’ How many times have you heard those words? Once, twice, maybe a thousand times?
The point is, we’ve heard them a lot, with teachers, trainers and the like encouraging us to speak our minds in the hope we’ll learn in an emboldening environment. And for the most part, it works – until you ask a really stupid question and get the piss taken out of you by your peers, that is.
One restaurant in Denver has a slightly different approach though, and actively encourages its diners not to ask stupid questions by adding a 38 cents charge to their bill if they do.
Tom’s Diner in the neighbourhood of East Colfax in Denver, Colorado, has been charging its customers in this way ever since the restaurant opened in 1999 as a way to infuse a bit of fun into the work day.
However, it’s only just becoming widely known outside of the area thanks to a recent Reddit post, which shared a picture of a Tom’s Diner receipt. Listed alongside an order of chicken tenders and mashed potatoes was a separate charge of 38 cents for ‘1 stupid question’.
The post sparked many questions, mainly: ‘What the hell?’, ‘Has the picture been Photoshopped?’, ‘Where can I find this restaurant?’, and ‘What even counts as a stupid question?!’
Although I sadly can’t provide the answer for the last (and most pressing) question, I can confirm the receipt is real, with plenty of diners having been charged such a fee over the years at the 24-hour restaurant.
In fact, ‘Stupid question’ is even listed on the diner’s side menu – in between ‘Extra dressing’ and ‘Veggie of the Day’ – resulting in an array of customers intentionally coming up with the most stupid questions they can think of to qualify for the charge.
Some of general manager Hunter Landry’s favourites include: ‘Are there any dues for the turkey club sandwich?’ and ‘Does the ice have any water in it?’
Of course, the restaurant doesn’t hand out the fee in a malicious way. Instead, Landry says it’s all in good fun, telling TODAY Food: ‘It’s meant to be playful. It’s good to keep things light in today’s world.’
The cost of the fee has fluctuated over the years, with the manager joking: ‘It was 48 cents at one point, but we didn’t want to gauge people.’
Landry, the nephew of Tom Messina (the Tom behind Tom’s Diner), said his uncle added the funny side option to the Denver diner’s menu around 20 years ago.
He also said staff are actually instructed never to charge people who actually ask an arguably stupid question. Instead, they’re encouraged to add a charge on for lively tables who will likely see the funny side.
Incredible. Who else wants to buy a flight to Denver just to see how many stupid questions they can get away with asking?
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).