It appears the ol’ American Express card is due for quite a workout:
A new dish is appearing on menus across the nation. Restaurateurs say they have little choice other than offer it, though it horrifies many customers.
That item is the $40 entree.
Until recently, such prices were the stuff of four-star, white-tablecloth meals, the kind that ended with a diamond ring on the petit four tray. But now entrees over $40 can be found in restaurants that are merely upscale, where diners wear jeans and tote children.
Yes, even in Oklahoma City. I checked a few menus this weekend, and while $30-35 is more common, there are entrees at or above the $40 level. The industrial-strength delicacies, of course, run much more. (Lobster tail, of late, is around $75.)
Not that there’s going to be any real backlash:
[W]hat makes the rise of the $40 entree so significant is not just the price creep, it’s the sophisticated calculation behind it. A new breed of menu “engineers” have proved that highly priced entrees increase revenue even if no one orders them. A $43 entree makes a $36 one look like a deal.
“Just putting one high price on the menu will take your average check up,” said Gregg Rapp, one such consultant. “My mom taught me to never order the most expensive thing on the menu, but you’ll order the second.”
Of course, you’re paying for expertise and atmosphere; I can grill up a sixteen-ounce ribeye for $11 and eat it at the breakfast bar, or I can go someplace nice and pay three or four times as much. As a practical matter, though, I’m not going to worry until the Wendy’s Classic Double hits $5.
(Via Population Statistic.)