The Growing Cost of Going Out

First there was this article in the Financial Times entitled Cut the fuss, add to the pleasure and then I read the first few paragraphs in this article in the Seattle P-I. Both had the same basic premise: eating out is getting expensive.

I feel their pain. Not being on an expense account, and not being able to write off meals as a business expense, every meal at a restaurant has to be weighed against my budget (such as it is). But when I read these articles, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of anger at the general tone of both of these pieces. What sealed the deal for me was the paragraph in the P-I article:

And $30 for three courses is still a pretty good deal. But beyond the promotions and the gimmicks, what’s a diner to do if she yearns to get the most bang for her broccoli?

Eat out only for special occasions? Flock to the midpriced chains? Survive on pizza?

What a misplaced sense of entitlement! Do you know what happens when 95% of consumers can no longer afford to go to a restaurant?

They. Stop. Going.

Then they start looking for the best and more interesting places that they can afford. It’s a crazy way to act, I know, but what can I say? People sometimes have to act in their best interests.

And while the point of the P-I article is somewhat laudable (she’s trying to find entrées for less than twenty dollars), the reality is that if there’s only one entrée that’s affordable on any given menu, the chances for repeat business are slim.

Besides, the world of three and four star restaurants is but a small subset of any restaurant community. There are plenty of great places that don’t give out amuse bouche nor have five different types of bread to nosh on prior to the delivery of the main course. The world of restaurants does not necessarily have to revolve around chefs looking to get a write up in Bon Appetit.