Friday, November 16, 2007

Hurry up and eat 

Mark Steckbeck answers the reasons why restaurants play loud music and run the air conditioning down to 60 degrees.
A restaurant ties two goods together and then charges you one price. You pay for the food and they give you a free place to sit down and eat. (It makes you wonder where the D.O. J.'s Antitrust Division is since Microsoft.) The restaurant makes only so much money from each table of patrons and relies on continuous turnover to keep the money coming in.

So the goal of the restaurant is to make you just comfortable enough that you enjoy the restaurant but not enough to keep you hanging around.
This of course ties in to my Panera discussion from Wednesday -- where, I'm happy to report, the restaurant has gone back to discounting the coffee for those with travel mugs. The net price change for coffee, bagel and cream cheese with your own mug is now about 12% vs. 28% before.

Steckbeck suggests trying to prove his point by saying to the server who asks if you need anything else "Yes, some peace and quiet. We're going to visit awhile." My mother-in-law used to go out to Perkins with three other older women, buy coffee and a roll and have a long chat. The manager eventually brought out an egg timer. They never returned.

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