Tricks Restaurants Use to Make Money

by | March 30, 2012 at 10:05 AM | General

Before you head out for dinner tonight, keep this in mind: Your restaurant of choice wants you to enjoy your dining experience… but it also wants to boost its bottom line. lists 4 tricks restaurants often use to make more money.

Menu Engineering

Shaded boxes and borders around items on the menu are intended to catch your eye — in fact, those fancy designs can actually increase sales by 25 percent. The words “special” or “new”  can also increase orders by up to 20 percent, according to

These highlighted items often boast low prices, which means they may not offer the best value for you. Each menu item is priced according to its cost, and most restaurants want to keep their food cost below 30 percent.  Of course, you won’t see something priced at $11.31 — customers don’t perceive a difference between $11.31 and $11.99. In this case, the restaurant simply raises the price and that extra 68 cents goes to its bottom line.


Has your waiter convinced you to indulge in a specialty beer at the end of a long work week? That’s because up-selling has become the industry standard. Your server is trained to ask if you want to try a new brand of coffee with your dessert.  Some restaurants expect their servers to suggest bottled water or Perrier when you ask for water, and offer a bottle of wine instead of the two glasses you ordered.


Buffets generally aren’t a big money-maker for restaurants, which means they likely offer the best value for you.  Still, a good restaurant can find ways to make money from the buffet, as points out. Restaurants use smaller plates on their buffet line, which reduces the amount of food you can take at one time.  The buffet line also starts with an assortment of low-cost breads and salads to fill you (and your plate) up faster.


Some restaurants manage to save money on even the smallest parts of your meal.  Take drinking straws, for example. Your soda might come with the thinnest straw possible, slowing down your consumption.  On the other hand, alcoholic beverages usually come with a wider straw so you’re able to drink much faster.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of XFINITY.