A really good meal in a restaurant can be compromised by loud voices and the hustle and bustle that frequently is found in popular eating spots. Then, the check comes and is often a bit of a shocker! There are east ways to reduce the likelihood of either through a couple of very simple, free, strategies. You can enjoy your dining out experiences more and save money at the same time.
First, lowering the noise:
Restaurants are not always well designed acoustically. Particularly, some of the newer avant garde spots feature rather open and sharply clean looking, unsoftened environments which seem to be popular these days with the younger set of diners. There is frequently not much attention paid to sound absorption as a way to make the dining experience more pleasant.
The food, though, is very good and you want to go there … But would like to be able to talk and listen to the person you are dining with without the need to raise your voice. Somehow, the sweet intimacy of a nice shared meal is then compromised.
A solution: Go to dinner a bit earlier.
This is not a promotion for the infamous Early Bird meals featuring reduced prices and reduced portions so prevalent in communities heavily populated by elderly residents. Rather, the suggestion is to avoid dinner prime-time (6 – 8 PM in most places, and go out at 5PM instead. Many restaurants will just be opening then for dinner.
The staff will be fresh and not yet harried and fewer people will be there. You will more likely get the table you would prefer and, although you would be ordering off the same menu at the same prices you would pay an hour or two later, you are apt to have a more peaceful dining experience.
Then, lowering the cost:
Costs of everything have and will always continue to increase. This includes, of course, restaurant charges. Even small and chain places have had to increase prices as their own costs of materials and labor have increased. This fundamental law of economics applies to restaurants as much as it does to anything and everything else.
People have adjusted to this change in a number of ways, none of which is entirely satisfactory. Some people have taken to eating in less favored places where the cost is less or to ordering items which are not what they really want to eat for the sake of reducing the bill.
More people are eating at home more of the time as the economy continues to tighten. But, all is not lost.
A solution: Subtract the alcohol from your dinner order.
Here’s an experiment that will demonstrate, in one dinner, worth trying. It may cut your check by as much as 50% without compromising at all on what you want to order to eat. Don’t order any cocktails, wine or beer.
People in the restaurant business know that alcohol is perhaps the most highly marked-up item they serve. The profit margin on the food itself is far less.
If you are a drinker and have not done the math, consider the following:
A one liter bottle of a mid-range scotch whisky might cost between $30 – 40 retail. A restaurateur will pay a wholesale price that is less than that. There are 33.8 ounces in a liter. Pouring what are regarded as ‘generous’ shots of 1.5 ounces, that one bottle of scotch will create around 22 drinks.
A few cents worth of a mixer (maybe) or just some ice, possibly a wedge of fruit and maybe even a paper umbrella, all of which might add 5 cents or so to the cost of the drink. The gross profit on the bottle of scotch itself (not including the service costs) is somewhere between 300% and 400%.
Wines are marked up, routinely, at that rate and even more so when ordered and served by the single glass where you can easily pay for one 6 ounce serving what the entire bottle might cost you at a decent liquor/wine store.
This is not an argument against drinking, but a way to lower your dinner bill. If you are in the habit of having a drink or two before dinner, wine with it and perhaps an aperitif afterwards, reducing your order to the food (and a non-alcoholic beverage only) will make enough difference in the check to astound most people.
One meal tried this way won’t change anyone’s life or preferences. What it MAY do is give people a new experience that might lead to them ordering something even better off the menu. The check will still shrink exponentially.