A big racket

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by coolj, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. coolj

    coolj

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    Reading Pete's thread on the history of popcorn, got me to thinking that I should add popcorn in with potatoes as the biggest racket in the food industry. Let me explain, I really think that food vendors / restaurantors, have a good thing going with what they can charge for a potato. My most recent example is this, last week I was at a hockey game, and I bought a loaded baked potato for $1.50, and my friend got an order of fries, and she paid $3.00. so what's up with that ?, I mean a case of fries only costs $19.00 for 30 lbs. and also with popcorn, I can buy kernels in bulk for something like $0.45 / lb. and yet if I go to the rink or to the theatre the prices anywhere between $2.00 for a small bag upto $6.00 for a large bag. Let me know what you think.
     
  2. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree, it is a huge racket, but as long as people are willing to pay those prices, then nothing will change. Places like theaters and sports venues have a captive audience, and as such they can charge whatever they feel like charging and people will still buy their product.
     
  3. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    Talk about inflating a price for flour, water, salt and maybe egg? Restaurants charge exhorbitant prices even for vegetarian pasta dishes - where a "no meat" dish should be reasonably priced.

    Chicken purchased in bulk is extremely reasonable but restaurants charge $10-$12 for a chicken dish.

    I remember passing a restaurant in NYC that had its menu displayed outside for the public to read. They charged $10 for Spaghetti a'lioglio - Spaghetti with olive oil and garlic!! No conscience!
     
  4. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Boy! Could I slash my prices if I did'nt have to pay a lease, insurance, payroll, maintenance costs, utilities, equipment, advertising..etc, etc, etc. But after all that, I have a hard time trying to keep the lights on and selling a bowl of soup for $3.50......And veggies are dirt cheap! I guess I don't have to sell it for that much. Does anybody know if the Electric Company gives a discount for nice people who don't want to charge too much? How about the IRS? ....lol.
     
  5. calicoskies

    calicoskies

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    I cant answer for inflated prices in restaurants, but as far as theaters...I think its cuz they dont make profits on newly released films, so they make up for it by charging exorbinant prices for their snacks. I read somewhere (wish I could recall where now but I cant) that theaters dont start making money on ticket sales until after the 10th week or so of release...well by then, traffic slows way down.

    Again, I am not defending the $5 Coke, the $3.50 Goobers nor the $4.70 med. bucket of popcorn (altho I love that stuff and cannot sit thru a movie without the popcorn and a Cola Icee) I just think thats the reason for high snack prices at theaters.
     
  6. leo r.

    leo r.

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    Hi folks,i thought Britain was supposed to be a rip-off,but i`d say someone has really got things sewn up!! John Gotti was locked up for scams like this:D Here in Britain some people have this weird belief that they should not complain in case they attract attention! I think anyone should say their piece if they have a legitimate reason.
    There are places in London where you pay VERY SILLY PRICES,then they(the proprietors) wonder why some people never return.
    You get miserly portions for a price that looks like a telephone number/zip code.
    I sometimes think of the one finger salute made famous by people over the pond. Do they want your custom or not?
    One day someone may just get the message.We can at least live in hope ,even if we do die in despair!:chef: Leo
     
  7. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    If someone doesn't see something obscene about charging double digit prices for a bowl of spaghetti onto which olive oil, garlic, parsley S&P have been added, remind me to eat somewhere else...LOL.
     
  8. shawtycat

    shawtycat

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    Our restaurant sells our spaghetti dishes for $6.95 and this comes with Soup or Salad and Bread n' Butter. Plus free refills on our drinks except for milk. Our customers only complaint is "God Im stuffed." But they tip well so we don't mind. I wouldn't dream of changing our prices. I guess thats why weve been around since 1947. :D
     
  9. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    $10+ Spaghetti dishes do exist. It's ridiculous. With proper planning and the least amount of waste possible, no one should have to charge such an exhorbitant amount for a starch.

    In the racket food vein...what about potato skins? What used to be treated as garbage has achieved celebrity status with the addition of cheese, some chopped peppers and onions, and m-a-y-b-e a pinch of meat.
     
  10. chrose

    chrose

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    Peachcreek did hit it on the head I think. Many prices while seemingly high on the outside are somewhat justified due to the high costs of operation. Plus stadium prices are high due to a limited season many times and a very high overhead, theaters are similar believe it or not I think their margins are very low. Personally I think the real hidden rip offs are in soda (water and a fractions worth of sugar) and fast food burgers. Cheap meat at roughly .69/lb (in that kind of bulk) sold at 1.00 or more. for 2oz of meat. That makes a cost to them of .043 + overhead, you pay roughly 8.00/lb for lousy ground meat! I wouldn't pay that for Veal.
    The smartest move though in the fast food biz was the "Supersize" an additional .39/ person for an additional .06 cents of food. A whopping 650% profit increase per customer.
    Sheer genius on the part of who ever came up with that idea!!!
     
  11. matthew357

    matthew357

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    Lets see...the worst thing I've ever seen was what a place I used to work at charged for a bagel with cream cheese. $3.25 if memory serves. I wish I could say that it was a case of "helping to pay for the overhead" but unfortunately it wasn't, just greed.

    To give you an idea, as a third key manager I was paid 6.15 an hour and it was one of the most popular places for breakfast/lunch in town. But, that's life. I think working for that place helped me build up a proficiency in dealing with a horrible working environment.

    Matt
     
  12. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    Peach said it all . Why do you think most culinary wages are so low ? We have to make a living also . Course this is just my opinion ....
     
  13. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with Peachcreek. Besides all the hidden costs of that people often don't see, there are other reasons that some of these dishes cost so much (at least in finer dining restaurants. Sometimes the price is artifically inflated to keep it in line with the rest of the menu. It looks strange to people if all entrees are $16-25 and then there is one that costs on $8-10. Also these dishes are sometimes inflated to keep food costs in line and to help overall prices to stay down. If a chef wants to run a filet and keep it under $25 he has a high food cost item. It needs to be countered with an item that has a much lower food cost. That plate of pasta for $16 may have a food cost of only 18%, so it allows the chef to run that filet at that price.

    This is a restaurant situation. The situation that CoolJ is talking about is at games and movies. And I have to agree with him. This can be a major rip-off. Hot Dogs for $5-6, Nacho's for $4+, basket of fries $3.50. It is shameful how venue operators take advantage of a captive crowd.
     
  14. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Especially when you find the same items at some discount warehouse (like Sam's or Costco) for far less per serving, like fried apps and items like taquitos.
     
  15. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    I won't defend concessioneers who scalp on their prices. Concessions at sporting events and performances are pegged to the value of the venue. That means that the concession holders have to figure out how to make the venture make money. And the more popular the event, the more the concession pays in fees and percentages. I can also tell you that I no longer sell food as a vendor at such events because I never made any money at it selling food. It was a much bigger hassle than it was worth!
    I have known people who managed movie theaters and it is true that the movie house makes practically nil off the ticket price and makes money off of the popcorn. And if you notice how lousy the service is at movie theaters, and how dirty most of them are, maybe we need to buy more popcorn and hold them accountable for better service!
    Its better than raising ticket prices!
     
  16. ritafajita

    ritafajita

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    Like Pete, some of the items on my menu have a very high food cost. Other items, such as veggie fajitas, help balance my overall cost. Even with those lower food cost items, it is still a constant struggle to keep my costs low enough to just break even - nevermind turning a profit. That's still a ways away. Foodservice is one of the hardest businesses to be successful at. Its extremely difficult to make money (or even just break even) in restaurant. That's the main reason why so many of them fail. Most of the time, a high price on a pasta dish isn't evidence of a scam - it's the result of an owner trying to keep his head above water.

    I also liked what Pete said about how menus need to have continuity. Imagine if you went into a restaurant, and one entree was priced at $3.95, another at $16.95. You wouldn't know what kind of place you were in! Is it a diner? a bistro? a place where I should probably wear a tie? Restaurants without some sort of identity (and pricing is one major way restaurants define who they are) don't survive.

    I have seen people take advantage of pricing, though. I know of a guy in a nearby town who owns a pizza delivery place with outrageous and unjustified prices. People order from him once, get their food, think "Geez, what a rip off", and then never order again. He's able to survive, though, because the economy of this town is based entirely on tourism. So, basically, he gets a new batch of suckers in everyday and doesn't have to worry that they might only order from him one time. I don't think that is a very ethical way to run a business. But I think this man in the exception rather than the rule as far as restaurant owners go.

    I know that it is very expensive to vend anywhere near the football stadium in my town. I was thinking about maybe doing it next Fall, but it doesn't look to me like it would be worth it, even with being able to jack up my prices.


    RF