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Restaurants - Ed's journal
So, when was the last time you went to a restaurant, and were concerned about the price of the food?

I was just wondering, you see, how many people thought that that's what you're paying for when you eat out?

I've always sort of figured you're not - I mean, really. It's never going to be as cost effective as buying your own ingredients, and cooking them yourself, doing your own washing up.

So, you may as well just assume the food is free. What you're paying for is the experience - the time the chef spent learning to cook, the effort that they made in decorating the place, and the general ambience of your restaurant.

It's actually quite interesting to think of things in this way - Pizza delivery costs, and it'll always be more than supermarket pizza, that you've bunged in the oven, which in turn will be more than making it yourself from scratch.

So all you're doing is trading time for comfort, or convenience - your delivery pizza isn't because of the pizza, it's because someone will cook and bring you pizza.

A taxi fare isn't paying for fuel, it's paying for time - the time spent driving, and the time spent waiting for your call - it's a convenience fee.

Where do we draw the line though? You wouldn't pay £500 for a pizza, I presume? so there's a tradeoff point, where the pricetag outweighs the 'value received' but the value received is so extremely subjective.

Subjectivity is important in our world, and our economy. Every time I pay for a service, I'm doing so because I find the tradeoff of the money that I've spent time earning, to be worth less to me than the service that's being provided. From the trivial table service in a bar - I'm paying because i'm not inclined to learn, nor am I inclined to do it right now.
To the more extreme - a doctor takes a long time to learn how to do his thing, before he's going to get to see/treat a patient.

The interesting part though, is just how small a fraction the 'raw' ingredients actually are. Go price up a 'made from scratch' pizza recipe sometime. Assume that your local pizza place is getting trade/bulk discount too. You'll be suprised at how much you're paying for that 'utility', and it's the same throughout the chain - raw materials add negligable costs to the finished product, it's always about a direct trade of effort.
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purp1e_magic From: purp1e_magic Date: October 11th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's a very obvious line, I find. Peter and I eat out far more than we really should, and there are certain obvious factors to consider.

The novelty of the style of food
The quality of the raw ingredients used
The expertise of the chef
The level of and quality of service
The ambience, in terms of privacy, comfort and how much you are rushed
How full I feel when I leave
The overall cost vs budget available

These factors can be considered separately. For example, the most basic of basic is the local carvery. And, being the most basic, it's also the cheapest, at £5 a head including drinks. As I increase the different factors, so the amount I'm prepared to pay increases. That's how I judge what is good value for money, until I get to last night's celebration Greek dinner at a beautiful restaurant with excellent, unusual (even for Greek) food and service, totalling £25 per head.

You say it's subjective, and you're right to a certain extent. It's subjective in the sense that it's got to appeal to me, I personally have to deem it worthy of paying for. But on the other hand there are certain objective standards that can be used to define how satisfied people will feel. Your waiter/waitress being easily available to you, for example, will make you feel welcome and spoilt - all those things you don't want to have to have thought of before you sit down, or things you don't want to have to get up to fetch, are effortlessly summoned.

So when I sit down at a restaurant, I am sometimes concerned at the price of the food. Because 'the food' is what we call the all encompassing experience.

But actually, that's not so very different from when we cook for ourselves. If all I can do to frozen peas is boil them into salty mush, but I can stir-fry mange tout to perfection, then I think of peas in the supermarket as being expensive for what they are compared to mange tout, even though the mange tout cost a lot more.

Using your example, if I'm totting up the raw ingredients for pizza I'll always be thinking of the time and effort, too. So although they cost less, I'll think of it as expensive compared to an oven-ready pizza or going to Pizza Hut. In absolute money terms, it's cheaper, but that's not how we shop.
From: dj_rws Date: October 13th, 2008 10:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Time = Money
angryangeltoo From: angryangeltoo Date: October 13th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)


Always shocks me

30 pounds for two bowls of soup you can get off a street vendor in Japan or China for a couple of Yen!
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