15 October 2005

Restaurant Prices

It is a small trend, but one worth noting. Most high end restaurants in Denver (although certainly not all), have begun pricing everything on their menus in even dollar amounts. Hence, the prime rib will be precisely $13, and the coffee will be precisely $4.

The desired effect, I think, is to acknowledge the intelligence of the reader, who can see through $3.99 and $12.95 pricing, and also to make prices unobtrusive on menus gushing with the virtues of the ingredients that go into the items on the menu. Some also omit the dollar sign, leaving just one or two characters, which, I suspect, is easier to gloss over than the five or six characters found in a conventionally stated price. Indeed, it sometimes takes a moment to even recognize that the number next to the item is a price, rather than just designating "item number 13" on the menu for those who don't want to try to pronounce some difficult French or Italian or Japanese name for their cuisine. They don't look like you expect prices to look which discourages you from trying to compare the often rather high prices to comparable prices which you usually see expressed in the conventional form.

Still, I can't say that I'm opposed to the trend. Round numbers do seem more honest, even if they have their own deceptive agenda, and as spare change grows slowly each year more worthless, the penny or nickle you save with a .95 or .99 price grows more annoying than helpful. Now, if only we could have prices in restaurants quotes after sales taxes, rather than before, we could have true round number pricing.

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