10 ways restaurants rip you off

10 ways restaurants rip you off
  • Restaurants will often have wine at 3x wholesale price and will make the 2nd wine on their list (after house wine) be a wine that is traditionally high in profit, as people don’t like to be shown to be tight. If you want to plan ahead then check their wine list out before you go or failing that stick to what you know. Remember ANYWHERE that sells alcohol MUST give FREE* tap water!
  • Upselling specials, often these specials are yesterday’s leftovers in as a special sauce or with a different style of cooking and because they’ve only got a few left they push them hard until they sell out. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad but just something to remember! If you want to be sure then ask like my father often will to the embarrassment of the waiter!
Restaurants will actively buy dishes in from large catering companies to cut costs!

Restaurants will actively buy dishes in from large catering companies to cut costs!

  • Large chains such as Prezzo, Bella Italia, Ask, Pizza Express, some Greene King Pubs & many, many more places buy in some of their dishes from outside catering companies such as Bidvest, they make no mention of this on their menus and the public have no idea they’re eating something that has been chucked in the microwave, reheated in a plastic bag or possibly (if you’re lucky) chucked on the top of the grill to warm up! If you want to know then simply ask what items are prepared in-house / fresh etc?
  • Menu items designed to catch your attention (boxes around sections, highlighted items etc), these often are the higher priced items, for instance, you will see a large mixed grill which just so happens to be the most expensive item, they don’t necessarily want you to pick it but it encourages you to spend more and go for something you may not have originally ordered! Be prepared to ask for a doggy bag or just stick with something cheaper!


  • Speeding you up but not making you feel hurried, this trick allows the restaurant to get more people in the door and is common in lots of highstreet chains. They want you in the door, fed and out of the door in generally under 1 hour with a max of 1 hour 30m. If you feel rushed then just say so and they should slow down. Another common trick that is related is the tempo of the music they play, they will also play classical music in restaurants to encourage diners to spend more, because it makes them feel more affluent!
  • Chains such as Pizza Express, Leon, Chiquitos & many more use large centralised kitchens miles away from their restaurants to prepare and cook lots of their meals, these places can prepare up to 50 restaurants food at once! It reduces wastage, allows them to use better/bigger tools and overall cuts down their costs. The problem is many restaurants won’t make it clear if they use them or if they cook everything freshly at the restaurant (like you would expect). If you’re unsure or if it matters then ask!
  • Cocktails are as popular as ever, they’re generally good money spinners as well however lots of restaurants don’t want the hassle of training mixologists so will just buy in cartons of cocktail mix and then splash in the needed alcohol. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you know in advance or on the menu. If you want to know ask in advance!

Thousands of restaurants across the country don’t bother to make their desserts, they buy them from the equivlanet of a restaurants supermarket

  • Puddings are expensive to make in-house, you often have to train specialist chefs so again many places such as Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquitos & Garfunkles have ALL of their desserts brought in by outside caterers! Brakes & Pete’s are common suppliers of puddings. The average pudding would increase by £2-4 if it was made all in-house. Again if you’re unsure or if you care then ask!
  • All you can eat buffets massively reduce their expensive dishes (meat & fish) during times like lunchtime, they give people smaller plates to cut wastage and pudding sizes are always in bite sized portions! Pretty obvious but we thought we would mention it again.
All you can eat buffets will reduce the quantity / variety of food on offer when they're doing cheap times of day

All you can eat buffets will reduce the quantity / variety of food on offer when they’re doing cheap times of day

  • Where is the £ symbol?? Removing the £ / $ / € symbol is a common trick in some posh style restaurants, they do this on purpose to try and make you forget you’re spending money! They will also use the left digit trick effect as well! You can sort of understand this as in a restaurant they have rather large overheads (rent, staff, heating etc), this means that all food has a profit margin of between 55-75%! As an example a £11 Pasta dish may only cost £1.74 to actually make, whilst a £20 steak dish may cost as low as £6! So you’re paying over the top but no washing up I guess!

Information gleamed from the http://www.channel4.com/programmes/tricks-of-the-restaurant-trade

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