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Old 06-04-2012, 03:14 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
I agree. Restaurants need to maximize the dollars they take in for a table to survive. If a table turns over 2-3 times in a night, that's your revenue for the night. If the portions are larger, they can charge more and increase revenues for that table. If you want to split a meal, you're cutting into their profits and that's why they want to charge for a plate.

I agree it stinks. Just trying to explain why it happens.
That's the truth that's behind all this. If what you sell is food, and you want to increase revenue, the most difficult approach is to try to gain more customers. Unless you have particular name recognition or location problems, you're probably not going to get many more customers. Most established restaurants, the long-term survivors, have pretty much as many customers as they can get. And some couldn't serve more if they had them.

The surest way is to simply sell more stuff, in this case, food. The cost for upsizing a meal is proportionally much smaller than the base cost. The second batty or the second pork chop or the 50% larger steak doesn't cost you much more, but they justify a higher price.

At first glance, it seems like you would be hurting yourself, competition wise. But once you are touting Biggies and supersizes and huge shrimp combos, your message is that THIS is the kind of meal you should be eating. And it's only a little bit more. Not ever more, shortly, because everyone else follows suit, because it makes sense. In seeing your huge shrimp combo and maybe raising you a bit, they're also turning more money.

It's not like all the meal sellers get together and conspire to serve giant meals. It just happens. And it largely happens because - ask yourself - what's a "meal?" Well, it's the amount of stuff you sit down to. If they are all telling you that food amounts two, three and four times larger are "meals," the message is that you can sit down to them and be sitting down to a meal. I mean, you would be unlikely to order three or four of them for yourself, even if the second, third, and fourth were just that small amount more than the base meal.

Compare
4 ounce Hamburger - $2. Large 6 ounce Hamburger - $2.50. MegaMeal 12 ounce Hamburger - $3.00.

Now 4 ounce Hamburger - $2. Two 4 ounce Hamburgers - $3. Three 4 ounce Hamburgers - $3.50.

I'm betting few individual diners would order three 4 ounce burgers. That would be piggy, because that's three meals you're eating. But they will buy the MegaMeal, because it's one "meal."


That's the way to shape choices. Make it okay by calling it a meal or, in the case of a restaurant, cramming it all on one plate. It is not simply offering more food. That was always offered. You could always by a supersize amount of food. You had the choice of more food.

It's no different with Coke. You could always have bought two 8-ounce bottles and chugged them down. And it's true today that you could choose to buy a 20-ounce bottle and pour half of it out. But you would not have bought two 8-ounce Cokes, because you just wanted a Coke, and Coke said, "Here's a Coke." You still want a Coke, and Coke still says, "Here's a Coke." You had better believe Wendy's would love to start the menu at a huge burger and say , "Here's a meal." But they couldn't stand the heat. But take a look at what the bottom tier hamburger looks like. They're only there to compare to.

Wendy's pitiful Cheesy Cheeseburger:


Really think that's a meal. No lettuce. No tomato. Not even condiments showing. They're there, but we don't want you seeing them and thinking this is a righteous meal. Meat and cheese grudgingly laid between buns. 300 calories. Add a medium Coke (+240) and the little "value" fries (+230), total 870 calories. And that's just for the burger carefully pictured to look pathetically NOT a meal.

Yes, you can choose to leave half the meal or pour out half the Coke. But by the time you're through childhood, the MegaMeal and the 20-ounce Coke are the accepted portions. If you don't think fast food corporations and restaurant chains think in terms of generations, look at what they pay for the properties they build on and think about how many hamburgers that is. They're positioned for your grandchildren.

It is not a harmless manipulation of choice, Nor is it something that you can write off as adults making choices. And it's not about protecting the individual from himself. Nor can you say, "Look. I make the right choice, and everyone else should, too." You can't get a grip on this until you think about it enough to see it as a slow bomb going off. I can't say what will work to abate this. But I do know that if the best way doesn't work, the second best has to be tried.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:17 PM   #42
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I recently read an article about how cholesterol levels have shifted since the '60s. A lot of other things have shifted as well--the amount of exercise a person gets, the amount of pre-packaged food one eats, the number of fast food joints, etc. Here in Ontario, the liberals tried to ban sushi because of health risks. Adults driving with s/one under the age of 16 cannot smoke in the car; helmets must be worn when biking; smoking banned in all workplaces and public spaces; no treating one's lawn; no soda sold in school vending machines; food "police" at schools re: lunches students bring...the list goes on and on and on. There is such a thing as over-regulating people. It is as if people can no longer be thought of to make intelligent choices. Living in a nanny state is very insulting, I find. Also, most of these regulations are based on the majority of the population living in urban settings. I couldn't ride my bike to work if I wanted to--I live 35 km from the heart of the City. To take public transportation, I have to drive 25 minutes. I choose to live in the country, have a big garden, and raise my chickens. Luckily, the property is zoned Agricultural 2, otherwise, because the City moved to me when amalgamation took place, I wouldn't be able to keep my chickens. People in the little village that is now part of the City, can't keep chickens, but I can, 5 km out.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:36 PM   #43
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I'm all in favor of the government protecting people from other people, but IMO it's an unacceptable infringement of our freedom for the government to step in and protect us from ourselves.

If we take the food police thing to the extreme then what are we going to have? Routine weighings and a government approved diet issued to each person? The government telling you no, you can't have ice cream for dessert because you're too fat?

If the government wants to get in the process they should do it with education.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:55 PM   #44
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When I was growing up, we lived on one end of the town, the school was on the other. We either walked or rode our bikes to school, and we went home for lunch and walked or rode our bikes to do that. I rode my bike to piano lessons. When we moved and lived 5 miles out of town, I rode my bike to my summer job when I was 15. And, home again. If it rained, my mother drove me to work and my brother picked me up. Kids are bussed to school--can't walk or ride their bikes. Driven to other activities, can't ride a bike or take a bus. Children in Ontario, according to a recent study, get less than 3 hours of exercise a week. Children don't play outside anymore unless involved in an organized activity. We made tree forts, climbed trees, went skating, explored the local junk car yard, rode our bikes to friends' farms where we rode horses (I'd ride my bike to one of my parents' employee's farm where I'd ride the Pinto pony by myself--around the gravel pit, and all over the place--and sometimes, I didn't tighten the saddle right and she'd stop to eat and I'd slide down her neck--but I survived). We fished for sunfish in the local creek. We went to the county fair and went on the rides until we threw up the corndogs and cotton candy (okay--that wasn't always fun, but still). Where were my parents? They were at work. The only time I had to ask permission to go anywhere is if I wanted to go to the DQ for a Dilly bar--the DQ was across the highway and I had to have permission to do that. I never fell out of a tree or broke a limb; I didn't drown in the lake or the creek (and, I did fall through the ice in the spring a couple of times), I always got back on the horse if I got bucked off (and no, I didn't wear a riding helmet--we often rode bareback). Yes, a certain number of people die because of bike accidents or getting bucked off a horse. I haven't seen any proof that regulating how these activities are done will bring the number of injuries or deaths to zero.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:09 PM   #45
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...
Yes, a certain number of people die because of bike accidents or getting bucked off a horse. I haven't seen any proof that regulating how these activities are done will bring the number of injuries or deaths to zero.
Actually, it turns out that legislating bike helmets raises the death/accident rate / km ridden for bicyclists. More cyclists, better bicycle culture, safer riding. Requirement to wear helmets means fewer cyclists.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:17 PM   #46
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Because of the huge sizes people are used to, we often get complaints about the "small portion sizes" when people order off the lunch menu, even though the prices are lower. They are probably getting a better deal when comparing the price per shrimp, but they see 7 shrimp instead of 10 and think they are getting ripped off. How can you offer reasonable sized portions when you will have people running around complaining about the tiny portions at your establishment? Word of mouth is huge when it comes to restaurants. We get the same thing when people order the 1/2 order of pasta or fish. The 1/2 portion is what you should be eating, and again, the price is lower, but people complain. So, or course corporate responds with larger sizes. No one writes into the guest satisfaction surveys saying that they had too much food (although they should. I think every entree should come with a half size, not just the fish and pasta).
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:44 PM   #47
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There are people socialized and culturalized to believe those big servings are what they are entitled to, every meal, every day!

And to that I say "I'm not saying you are stupid, I'm just saying you are unlucky in thinking".

I give up! I have a friend like that--with acid stomach, acid reflux every day, digestive distress, diarrhea (tmi) at times, it's horrible.
I try to explain that a normal serving is the size of your fist, but no, they eat three times that amount.

I used to pick up what they called a chicken bowl, it was mashed potatoes, with corn on top, a little gravy around the edges, a little cheese melted on top and 7 pieces of fried chicken tenders for $3.60. I would eat that for lunch for three days--that is how much was in that bowl, three servings!

Also a muffalada, $5.50, at least 6''x6''x3'', enough for three days, I'd just refrigerate the rest for the next lunch or meal.

Should the gov't regulate soda, salt or serving size--naw. I'm never going to NYC, so hopefully none of this catches on anywhere else.

On the other hand, if a restaurant opens up, called 'SALT FREE' and they cook salt free, AND consumers want that--more power to them! Let your money speak for you.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:48 PM   #48
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We have a restaurant chain in Los Angeles called Maria's Italian Kitchen and many of the dinner menu items offer the selection of full serving or half serving. The half serving is IMO what most people should be ordering. I sometimes order one or the other based on how hungry I am. If I'm not extremely hungry the half serving is a very satisfying size.

And no, a half serving is not half the price of a full serving, nor would I expect it to be. But it is significantly less than a full serving, and it gives me the feeling that I'm enjoying dinner without pigging out, and don't have that overly full feeling I sometimes get when I eat too much.

I have excellent portion control when I cook. I know what a healthy serving size is, I use a scale, and I cook just enough for dinner. (I don't like leftovers). I often get annoyed at restaurants when they serve overly large meals, although I generally go to nicer restaurants where they don't do that as often as the fast food places do. IMO at fast food places you'll get a whole day's fat and calories in one meal if you're not careful.

BTW I'm right at the middle of the BMI scale* (weight vs. height), so I must be doing something right. I guess to some degree I figure that if I can do, it why can't everybody else do it too? (But I recognize that it's not always easy for everybody.)

But I still don't think it's right for government to step in and make rules for how people can eat. That is just too much an infringement of our freedom. In the US our Constitution guarantees us the freedom to pursue our happiness, and some people find happiness in eating more than is good for them. I think people should have that right.


* BTW, speaking of BMI I know some people who seem to be too heavy for their height. Maybe they're just too short for their weight.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:33 PM   #49
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Oh, I understand why they want to do it. Doesn't mean I have to agree or be willing to pay it. What if one person comes in alone and takes up that same table? Only one entree sold, and they aren't buying a second drink either. If I only get one entree I only expect to pay for one entree. Period. Oh, and this place was completely empty. No worries about taking up a table. The prices were too high, the food was good but not outstanding, and they nickel and dime people. Too bad, because I liked the atmosphere and the decor. Unfortunately I think they are one of those places where the owner has never seen the profit margin bell curve of supply and demand. If the place is empty, you need to find a way to draw more people in (like lowering prices), not raise the prices to try to make more off each entree, thereby reducing demand. I used to work at a restaurant where the owner didn't get that concept. She would run a good special, and the place would be packed, so the next week she would change it so that it wasn't such a good deal (so she would make more money) and people would stop coming back. And she started charging 59 cents for sides of ranch, mayo, BBQ sauce, or anything else like that. That pisses people off too, and makes them feel like we are ripping them off so they never want to come back, like me and the place that wanted to charge $5 for an extra plate. I ordered a cup of soup for my meal at that place, so I paid $3.50 instead of $5, and my bf and I ate off the same plate, which was fine with me anyway.
You're right. Some restaurant owners don't get it. People are looking for a fair deal for their money.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:35 PM   #50
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...In my opinion, however, it will take a long time before the population in general will willingly accept smaller serving sizes after being accustomed for so long to being able to have larger sizes. Oh they will accept them, they can just buy two. Eventually, it will work out that smaller sizes could become the norm...
I agree. This is why education is so important. We, the population, need to be educated on the benefits and dangers so we can make informed decisions. When the public in general demands it, it will happen.
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