Tricks Restaurants Use to Make You Spend More

The restaurant industry is just like any other. What started out as a simple business model with only minimal competition has become far more sophisticated and competitive.

Restaurants are now doing everything they can to get a few more dollars from you before you leave their establishment.

Avoid becoming a restaurant victim!

Recognize these restaurant tactics:

  1. All-you-can-eat. While some patrons come out ahead, most restaurant customers spend more than the value they’re receiving. Restaurants are great at filling buffets with inexpensive items that fill you up, like bread and salad. Purchasing and preparing food in bulk also cuts costs for the restaurant.
    • Some items you want might be unavailable on the buffet. You’ll want something to drink and you may want dessert. If you’re going for the all-you-can-eat deal, try to limit your other purchases.
    • Better yet, ask yourself if it would be less expensive to order something from the menu.

  2. Making you wait. If you’ve ever noticed, many restaurants have empty tables, but you still have to wait. The purpose is to encourage you to sit at the bar, have a few drinks, and maybe even order an appetizer. It’s easy to spend an additional $15 or more while waiting for a table.
    • Set a budget before you go into the restaurant and you’ll be less likely to fall for this trick.

  3. Specials. If you’ve ever visited the same restaurant on a regular basis, you might have noticed an item on “special” that costs more than the normal price. Specials are often used to promote high-profit items or to push food that’s about to expire.
    • Let common sense be your guide and avoid falling prey to specials. Ignore the word “special” and ask yourself if you would order it otherwise.

  4. Watch out for salty snacks. Have you ever noticed how bars offer free pretzels, chips, popcorn, or peanuts? Those cheap, salty snacks will keep you drinking, which results in big profits for the restaurant. The return on a keg of beer is commonly over 300%, which is definitely worth the cost of some cheap, stale pretzels.
    • Stay away from the salty snacks and drink water. Even though soft drinks sometimes come with free refills, the first glass can be expensive.
    • It’s also a potential health issue. How many different hands have been in that bowl?

  5. Your server is trained to upsell you at every opportunity. Whether it’s an appetizer, salad, dessert, or extra cheese, you’ll be offered the chance to spend more money. Servers are happy to do it, especially considering that they’re looking for a bigger tip.
    • Again, have a budget and stick to it. Appetizers are usually unnecessary. Also, most restaurants provide large enough portions that you can pass on dessert.

Restaurants are like any other business. They want to make as much money as possible. While dining out can be a good time, it’s important to be financially responsible. Stick with your dining budget and avoid spending more than planned. Your waistline will thank you, too!

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