Since my back is better today, I wanted to spend some time getting some work done on the novel revisions. I STILL have to go do my laundry, of course, but I also have to get cracking on those revisions. November is getting here waaaay too fast and I'm planning to get through NaNoWriMo this year from start to finish. So this book revision stuff MUST get done and sent off to the publisher so I can get it OUT OF THE WAY. I woke up thinking "it's book time!" but instead, I logged on to the internet first. Well, I DID have to call my mom in 23 minutes (I use http://www.relaycall.com/national/index.html for my relay calls) and so I started reading news items and blogs. (I'm afraid I'm reading TOO MANY blogs lately...that's weird.) I read this article online today called "Top 5 Sneaky Restaurant Tips," written by Kelli B. Grant, a reporter for SmartMoney.com. It talks about 5 ways restaurants "sneakily" add more charges to your bill. Being money-conscious, I decided to check it out, even though I RARELY eat out (I'm a stickler for homecooked meals). I have included excerpts from the article to comment on. You can read it online here: http://www.smartmoney.com/top5/index.cfm?story=20060928 All text is copyright 2006 by the author/appropriate copyright holder. this is NOT my original work and I am only including excerpts from the article in accordance with the "fair use act" of copyright law. I'm no lawyer but I'm fairly certain I'm in line with fair use of copyrighted material and I will contact the author directly to let her know I linked to her article.
"Sure, there are some easy ways to cut costs, like booking your reservation through certain Web sites that automatically generate a discount on your meal."
Wow, I didn't know about that. Good tip!!
Impressing a hot date is as simple as four little words: "Order anything you want." OK, so you only offer this after scanning reviews for restaurants marked with an "$" instead of a "$$$$."
I had to laugh when I read that part. I actually had something like this go down in my novel. I also have in that scene my character weasling his way out of being hit with a heavy check, since he's unemployed, anyway. I just hope the author of this article doesn't read that when the book comes out and goes, "Hey! I had that idea first!"
"But price estimates are often deceptively low. For starters, there's no telling when that estimate was last updated, says Kate Krader, a senior editor at Food & Wine magazine. "Menus and prices change all the time," she notes. More importantly, most ratings only estimate entrée prices, and don't include hard-to-resist add-ons like an appetizer and dessert.
Take Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills, which is adored by celebrities and foodies alike." [I have heard of them.] "Gourmet magazine just ranked it fourth in "America's Top 50 Restaurants." The Zagat Survey estimates that you'd spend $66 per person (one entrée, one drink and a tip). That's unrealistic, even if you opt for individual courses over the chef's popular eight-course tasting menu ($120, or $180 with wine pairings)."
Ok. I almost had a heart attack when I read THAT part!! $120 JUST for dinner?? That's outrageous! The most I have ever spent on dinner (even when dining with others) is $50. I'd NEVER pay that much for dinner -- and even if I was hit with a bill that high, I'd expect my fellow diners to chip in. With a bill like that, it's time to download some coupons, folks. But, ya know, pizza is cheaper.
"Restaurants invest big bucks to create an atmosphere that encourages one to linger, says Frank Bruni, restaurant critic for The New York Times. (Think low lighting, cool music and an attentive and attractive wait staff.) Markups on alcohol easily run 200% to 300%. Consider that at Masa, a trendy Southwestern cuisine hotspot in Boston, you'd pay $7.50 for a 1.5-ounce serving of Herradura Silver tequila. Buy the bottle at your local liquor store and you'd pay $40 -- only $2.50 per serving."
I remember reading this other blog where a New York native was visiting Philadelphia and couldn't BELIEVE the cost comparisons of liquor. In the state of brotherly love, booze was cheaper, and the blogger outlined a list of comparisons where the same exact drink that cost an arm and a leg in New York was much more affordable in Philly. Then again, this is a restaurant we're talking about. I once visited this Italian eatery where a slice of pizza was $1.50. At another independent Italian eatery, it cost $7 for one slice -- but, admittedly, the slice was just a little bit larger than the cheaper one. It also tasted much better. (Wow, you can tell I like pizza, huh?? LOL) I wonder if the restaurant's prices are the same in every state?
"Anyone who has ever struggled to choose amongst mouthwatering entrées can tell you how fun it is to encounter a "tapas" menu, where diners order several small dishes to share. But because the dishes are small, diners often over-order out of fear of walking away hungry, says Bruni."
Ah, yes. My sisters and I used to dine out a lot. We have ordered such meals, too. How we walked away from that without breaking the bank? Three words: Talk is cheap. We spent more time talking than we did eating. I realize that there's this "habit" of people using food as a handy conversation complement, but because we lived apart, had stuff going on, etc., the main reason for getting together for lunch or dinner in the first place wasn't to pig out but to catch up. Also, one sister used to work for Nextel, and she was ALWAYS getting up to talk with customers she noticed when we went out to eat.
And, finally, there is this excerpt I want to comment on:
"If you're the type to build your meal around a good bottle of wine, factor that in when you select a restaurant. "The price of the wine determines how much the dinner will really cost," says Alan Richman, food critic and author of 'Fork It Over.' Traditionally, restaurants charge twice the retail price of a wine, or three times the wholesale cost. So your favorite $30 bottle at home is easily $60 at a restaurant."
My ex once took me to this very nice Italian restaurant in Palm Springs. (This was before we had a child, before we got married -- and before our pocketbooks suffered from BOTH changes!) He bought a bottle of wine at the restaurant for us to enjoy with our meal. He later told me that bottle cost $50. I never found out the retail cost of the bottle in a store, but it WAS good wine and I wouldn't have been surprised if it cost $25 to buy at a Vons or something like that. All the same, I once came across a bottle of Hungarian wine that cost only $7, and it was JUST AS GOOD as the Italian restaurant wine. Still, I can understand how people would want to have wine with their meals when dining out. And this article has just introduced me to the exhorbitant corking fees at some restaurants for opening outside bottles of wine ($40 at one New York restaurant!!).
Now, here again is where I reecho my advice: Pizza is always cheaper. ;)
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