16th July 23:03
Fee for Sharing
Most restaurants do not make boatloads of money, but that is
because they must compete against restaurants that are actively
losing money. Part of the reason for the latter situation is
that people who made a boatload of money somewhere else often want
to open restaurants as a form of status symbol. Sports figures
and entertainers are common examples. Here in the Bay Area, it also
includes dot-com multimillionaires (although one of the more
auspicious restaurant openings in the past year was bankrolled
by rock star Sammy Hagar). For this reason, it's unfair
to shift the blame to diners for restaurants feeling squeezed.
If it were not for this vanity factor, restaurants would
return similar profits as other businesses requiring similar
levels of investment and skill.
16th July 23:03
Fee for Sharing
Could be. I have no idea how significant a factor it
is in this particular case, but when margins are tight (for
whatever reason), one simply has to be very careful about
both revenues and expenses. Failure on any front can spell
disaster quickly. I don't think it's a matter of "blaming"
anyone. I eat out at lots of restaurants (far too many for
my own good, and apparently I live in an area with the highest
proportion of people eating out), and I do often split plates
and do all sorts of other things for which there may or may not
be additional fees. There are some business
practices I like and some I don't. I just don't think sharing
fees or most other issues are somehow moral failures. Personally,
I just want to see restaurants with good food succeed economically,
but maybe that's just my stomach talking ;-)
16th July 23:03
Fee for Sharing
Nor do I. I believe though what I call the vanity effect is
increasing for non-chain fine-dining restaurants for two reasons:
(1) Chains are an increasing fraction of the market, thus
a given number of non-chain vanity restaurants represents a
higher fraction of non-chain restaurants than it once would have.
(2) Increasing wealth diversity has created a much larger
pool of individuals with money who might want to plunge into
a vanity restaurant operation. I'm guessing in some cases
the backers are also looking for a tax loss. I would love to see
someone's ****ysis of just how significant this effect has become.
No, they're not, assuming they are upfront about it and
consistent about it.
16th July 23:05
Fee for Sharing
I fear we stumble over semantics again.
Would one plate-sharer in twenty-five parties be more plausible to you?
I'm saying to raise all prices by, say, a nickel. If your menu items
average to $20 each, say, then that's now $20.05 (happy birthday!). If
you have an average of twenty-five parties a day (very conservative for
NYC, certainly) and sell an average of four dishes per party (a more
moderate guesstimate, this one), then that's an average income of
$80.20 per party, which means an extra $5.00 on an overall daily income
of $2K a day. That extra $5 covers your one instance of food-sharing.
Not that, I repeat, there is any real damage at all to plate-sharing.
I'm only going along with you for now, but really, I don't buy the
notion that anyone's losing money here (another post mentioned
"opportunity cost," but I think the concept doesn't apply here. Was it
really an opportunity cost for you to not have quit your job for the
other one? You simply can't know these things, whatever the
surrounding emotions...likewise, I just don't think that some ghostly
abstract non-plate-sharing diner will suddenly materialize to give your
restaurant business if you got rid of your plate-sharing diner).
Obviously, if A is running a $100 tab, s/he's subsidizing B who's only
eating a $25 meal. Should A begrudge B the window seat?
Obviously, I wouldn't budge, then. I'll probably throw a roach into
the last bite of the dessert, too, for good measure, heh.
There are lots of restaurants in NYC. The grubby bastards can give me
free meals for quite some time.
Yes, so, goodness, if you share a plate of food, why, that poor
restaurant owner will go out of business -- after all, it could be the
Queen of England dining here, helping put the owner in the black for
the rest of the year! After all, one can only exploit illegal aliens
so much before election time comes for Eliot Spitzer! After all, your
wonderful time is just a number on his accountant's ledger, your
date/friend(s)/family is/are just business opportunities in sneakers,
and everyone loves a winner so you better perform and eat your veggies!
It's about hospitality and friendliness. It's about the whole point of
having company for a meal. It's about what seems indivisibly part and
parcel of dining out.
We do stumble over semantics, indeed -- you imagine the dining
experience differently than I do.
The question is, what is the point of a restaurant?
Ultimately, you think of yourself as engaging in some kind of a barter
with the restaurant, whether you realize or not.
I have a different notion of dining culture.
Okay, I'm taking off the gloves -- no more Mr. Nice Restaurant Critic.
I've humored y'all long enough.
There is NO LOSS to the restaurant from plate-sharing. You can only
lose what you actually have. We really do haggle over semantics, as I
do not feel that a possible non-plate-sharing diner counts more than an
actual diner, plate-sharing warts and all.
Life experience. Do you think that as a group they're so stupid as to
be in a money-losing business? The one thing I know about businessmen
is that they can squeeze money out of a stone, even if it's a penny or
I'm just saying that penalizing for plate-sharing is penalizing the
very heart of the dining experience: trying out food with good company.
What?? Oh, by "income" you mean "profit," as in "profit is 4% of
sales"? Where did you get this figure?? I'm not contesting it, since
that'll be a whole other argument (and I'm not as shocked by that as I
was from hearing on NPR that airlines typically only turn a profit on
the last three seats sold on any given flight [!!!]) -- I'm just
curious, for my own future reference.
So by penalizing me $6 for the most normal of human behavior at the
dinner table, he helped himself to $7.40 in profit, eh?
Just where are you getting these figures? Food is not that expensive
where these folks get it from.
You're missing the forest for the trees.
One stick is weak, but a bundle is strong.
One $35 bill doesn't mean anything to a book-keeper, but
They are not "starving." Whether they're getting fat is a different issue.
Um, actually, I haven't seen any arithmetic, much less math, on this
I'm afraid I don't see what's so incomprehensible about the fact that
there is no loss if the loss is mere speculation.
I gave you the stockbroker example somewhere. I have another one:
taking up two seats on the subway.
Of course, on a crowded train, taking up two seats does actual "harm."
But when there are other seats available?
I bring up this incident because I actually had the occasion of a woman
who insisted on sitting just where I had laid my rolled-up inflatable
kayak (this is NYC, remember). There were certainly lots of other
seats around -- for NYC, one can even say the car was empty, relatively
speaking -- so I told her to just sit somewhere else.
After an argument somewhat like this thread about whether I paid for
two seats and so forth, what does she do? She sits on my hand on the
other side of me, in the seat right next to me!
This is all by way of saying that people have this funny way of
perceiving loss and injury.
I ordered the damned food. What business is it of the proprietor's
whether that food's eaten by me or her? What if I doggy-bagged it and
shared it with her at home?
THE GUY SUFFERED NO HARM.
Which is why I keep saying that he ought to look elsewhere in such a
case! Nickeling-and-diming your customers ain't gonna really help if
you have such fundamental problems where you think nickeling-and-diming
your customers could help! In such a case one should review the menu,
the prices, advertising and promotion, even location of real estate and
hours of operation -- decor and lighting, demographics of clientele, etc.
This is NOT an issue of opportunity cost!
And that's one of the most slippery slopes in all economics (the other
being, in some schools, that business is win-lose). It's one of those
very easily misused and abused notions, like "love" or "patriotism" or
something like that....
You cannot lose what you never had.
The ol' one bird in hand is better than two in the bush idea.
Of course, life isn't so simple, so sometimes the notion of opportunity
cost is valid and applies. Other times, however, it's a red herring.
No, I mean you all's "it costs money" thesis, which is a red herring.
Or a dime, etc., as I'd said - you get the drift.
Goody! Now you're talking - though, again, I am just entertaining
your red herring, you understand. Ultimately, it's not about "costs"
(as belied by the fact I keep bringing up that anything can be a "cost"
- messy-eaters, slow-eaters, etc.).
How easily you slip this one by! One out of ten diners share plates?
I doubt this. And I wonder how plate-sharing is to be defined, really.
50% I'd count as real plate-sharing - anything less I'd say is
more properly labeled "sampling"...though, to be sure, I will follow
what seems to be the colloquial definition of the term for the sake of yet another argument.
I don't know what these "average industry numbers for cost structure"
are or where you got them....
Um, how do you split $30 as $5 + $5 + $15??
That's $50 per party at $25 each person (one $5 soup, one $5 salad, one $15 main course).
And that's $35 per party (soup and salad per person and the one main course).
That's $4,850, I believe.
$4,910 - an extra $60.
What?? Is this the "average industry numbers for cost structure for
full service restaurants" previously mentioned???
What's the usual logic behind figuring out overhead? This here
figure seems rather slapdash - but for the sake of argument I will
run with it for now.
I'd like to note that your argument hinges on food costs and overhead,
which are the two weakest parts of said argument, seeing how arbitrary they seem.
I understand the logic of your numbers - if your figures for food
costs and overhead are to be believed, anyway - but, again, I simply
do not buy the "wider" argument based on the assumption that there are
10 non-plate-sharing parties for the 10 plate-sharing parties. I
forget the name in logic for this kind of thinking, but it's the same
as that which accompanies an opportunistic, even greedy, mindset: if I
can squeeze just another $1 out of every leaf on this money tree,
whoopee! It's the same mindset behind the fellow who killed his golden
I simply don't buy the fact that something which was never guaranteed
can be counted as a loss. It's like kicking yourself for not having
bought the winning lottery ticket...this is why I regret ever having
humored all you all's "cost ****ysis argument" in the first place:
the whole thing is a set-up; you can run your scenario for any kind of
surcharge - diners who make a mess and whose table requires more
cleaning afterwards, or diners who eat too slow and take up too much
time, or parties whose members take up three conjoined tables but who
order very little food and drink - but you'd still be missing the
point that a restaurant is supposed to be hospitable and friendly, and
that, fact is, you simply don't know you stand having the extra money
which you imagine would come from non-plate-sharing (or faster-eating,
or tidier-eating, etc.) customers.
Why assume? I've been constantly saying "raise prices across the board."
That should be $50.30 - an extra nickel for each item ordered.
And this is $35.25 for the same reason.
We really do haggle over semantics, as I do not feel that the concept
of opportunity cost applies here, as the opportunity -
non-plate-sharing diners - is very far from guaranteed.
Again, I am so sorry to be the sport that I naturally am, humoring
digression when, really, cost ****ysis is quite beside the point.
You are right, however, given the way you've framed your argument
(namely, with such figures for fixed and variable costs, though I
suspect the general trend that is your point will bear out whatever the
exact sums). But it's a sad fact of life that what's logical isn't
A: John is rich.
B: John is a man.
C: Men are rich.
Your argument is, as you've set it up, a sound one. But it is speaking
past my point, for all its careful construction, which has ever been
that the whole assumption that the doctrine of opportunity cost obtains
here is invalid. There is no loss because such a scenario is
predicated on, as it were, a whole slew of would-be customers who are
non-plate-sharers but who are being kept out of the restaurant by a few plate-sharing benchwarmer upstarts.
I don't see how you say they receive no benefit when clearly all
overhead is built into all prices. Every customer pays not only for
the food (and the implicit labor) but also for rent, utilities, etc.
In effect, the cost of overhead goes up to make the experience a more
pleasant one for all.
What? You don't care for the $$$$ involved in sprucing up the place?
What? He doesn't care for the $$$$ invovled in having a plasma TV at
the bar? What? She doesn't think the $$$$ ad in the Village Voice was
Again, it's a red herring, this sense of "injury"...it's like when
people complain about "their tax dollars" going to fund x, y, and
z...makes sense on its own, but it's missing the forest for the
Indeed -- I'm still looking for the beef noodle soup that Szechuan
Capital or Lai Food in Flushing, Queens used to do!!!!
But I was saying that to focus on customers sharing a plate is truly
forgetting the point of your business. Your profit comes from the
food, how good it is, how you get the word out, how you price it, where
you locate yourself...if the occasional customer sharing food is going
to make or break you, you need to try investment banking instead.
Szechuan Capital lost its lease. Probably Lai Food, too. I'd been a
loyal weekly customer for over ten years -- grew up on the food,
frankly. When I was away in the Army, I'd even dream about them.
But no, ignoring plate-sharing is not a business mistake. It's not
making a mountain out of a molehill.
Again, I will defer the last word to you on this sub-thread, too. We
are really having two different conversations because we have two
different points of departure: you imagine the restaurant as an
institution one way, whereas I imagine it in another. I wish diners
would stop tolerating bogus charges. Just how did we as consumers
learn to put up with so much bull? Look at your phone bill, for
example. Girls don't believe me when I tell them I have no phone.
Why the heck would I want to pay all those fees, taxes, and
Luckily, the neighbors have WiFi! =)
16th July 23:05
Fee for Sharing
In article <email@example.com .com>, NYC XYZ
Why wouldn't I?
Thanks for your (somewhat non-direct) answer to my question.
You don't need a degree - many people obtain tremendous knowledge by a driving
curiosity, a willingness to learn, and a willingness to investigate. You,
however, may consider looking into a couple of basic economics and business
classes at your local community college.
16th July 23:06
Fee for Sharing
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org .com>, NYC XYZ
A restaurant opens its doors every day based on the mere speculation that they
will get customers that day. Meaning, the right number of meals served, on
average, each day, to bring in enough money to cover their costs, which include
the rent,heating and cooling, depreciation, and maintenance of each table. The
latter (costs) are more assured than the former (revenue).
This 'mere speculation' is basic to the existance of any enterprise.
16th July 23:06
Fee for Sharing
True. However, you can certainly over-speculate. It's one thing to
expect business in general, quite another to imagine a certain kind of
customer over another -- it seems that everyone's argument here is that
there's a whole line of non-plate-sharing diners who are being
prevented from patroning the restaurant due to a few plate-sharers.
Again, it's like your stockbroker chiding you for being "poorer" for
not having taken him up on his recommended buy. That's just
word-games: you're really not poorer, except through a greedy
imagination which perverts the theory of opportunity cost.
"One in hand is better than two in the bush"....
16th July 23:07
Fee for Sharing
While it's always good to educate one's self, your tone sort of
presupposes that you are absolutely correct and, if NYC would just take
a few courses, he'd see that.
I do not believe this to be the case.
Of course, what you say about opportunity cost and business models, etc.
is correct, however, extending that to a blanket generalization about
whether or not plate-sharing fees (of any amount) are justified -- and
this seems to be what is happening in this discussion -- would be
painting the world a bit more black and white than it really is.
Plenty of busy restaurants thrive without sharing (or corkage or
slicing) fees because the management knows their audience, and knows
that the goodwill that comes from being a customer-friendly restaurant
far more than outweighs the nickels & dimes lost on the very occasional
person trying to get something for nothing. They further speculate
that, most of the time, it's not even someone trying to get something
for nothing, except in the sense that one person wants to share the
company of another while that 2nd person eats, the 1st not being
particularly hungry. restaurants are, after all, in the "hospitality"
business, and that's all part of the bigger picture.
This is not to say that those fees are always A Bad Thing, either.
Personally, I do not enjoy the type of restaurant that has them, but I
can understand why they might want to, as part of their style and
....And that's what makes horse racing!
Please take off your shoes before arriving at my in-box.
I will not, no matter how "good" the deal, patronise any business which sends
unsolicited commercial e-mail or that advertises in discussion newsgroups.