Last Update
Feb 1st, 2014

Tell Us the Prices Please

One of the things that baffles me is how little people who run restaurants seem to know about their customers. Whenever you question something that a restaurant owner does, they always answer with the same retort "have you ever run a restaurant?". My answer is "No", but I've been a customer for many years, and I know what I want when I go to a restaurant. Also, because of what I do, I'm very cognizant of what other people want. I strike up many, many conversations with other patrons; trying to find out what they find annoying about their experience. So I'm a pretty good focus group all by myself.

I sometimes wonder if restaurant owners and managers ever dine at restaurants themselves? Todays complaint is about specials. We've all been to that restaurant; you know, the one with the long list of specials that gets read to you when you sit down. Casa D'Angelo comes to mind, but there are lots of other ones. They read off the dishes, but they don't tell you the price. So how the hell are we supposed to decide whether or not we want them or not if we don't know how much they cost?

Do restaurant owners have any clue about what it's like going to restaurant and getting a long list of choices with no prices? They wouldn't dare give you a regular menu without prices (although some will riddle the menu with the dreaded "Market Price" for some items). What percentage of people make any purchasing decision whatsoever without knowing the price?

Dear Mr Restaurant owner, what items in your life do you purchase without knowing the price in advance? Are you so wealthy that you just buy things without even looking at the price tag? Would you even buy a hot dog from a street vendor if they didn't have the price posted? So why do you expect your customers to buy your food without telling us the price? And why do you put me in the position of having to ask the price of everything that sounds remotely interesting?

The truth is that the price is often the difference-maker; even for people who aren't on a shoestring budget. When someone tells me that they have stone crab claws, that might sound interesting, but if they're $30/lb for medium claws I'm not buying them and if they're $28 for a pound of large claws I might consider it.

Value matters, particularly in a town where even in a very high end restaurant, your customers are much more likely to be struggling to make ends than they are rolling in affluence. Great, so you have a Veal Chop in a rosemary sauce; it is $38 or $56? Do I really have to ask?

Personally, I prefer a Specials Board, so I can find out the specials AND the prices BEFORE I look at the regular menu. But if you think that your fancy restaurant is too good for something like that, at least have your servers include the price with the description.

The one thing that I can say is that if you don't tell me the price, unless is sounds REALLY good, I'm not going to ask how much it is; nor am I going to order it. So if you want to move more of your specials, and if you want to provide your customers with a better dining experience, tell us the prices when you tell us the specials please.

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Lewis M
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I never order specials precisely for this reason. Well said.
Casey
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Great article. I hope some of them listen to you. I hate having to ask how much something is.

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