|Three and Four Star Restaurant Prices Shoot Heavenward|
|Key Words||Prices, costs, quality, rents, loans, incomes, wealth, stock market|
The prices of entrees in New York restaurants rarely used to be above $30 - except perhaps for lobster and prime sirloin. Now many menus list nothing under $30. This is happening even in restaurants with less than four-star food, service and ambience. Who could have imagined paying $32 for cod at Picholine or $38.25 for rack of lamb at Limoncello? At the Essex House, the new French chef --who has six Michelin stars--is expected to charge $200 per person, excluding wine.
A restaurant consultant says that some of the high prices are justified, while others are not. Food costs have risen, particularly where chefs search out the most rarefied ingredients, or increase the quality of meat or fish they use. Some restaurants have chosen to upgrade which means hiring more experienced managers and specialist chefs. Rents are also increasing fast. Opening a high-end restaurant requires spending $3 million on design and construction; then the loans have to be paid off.
Yet restaurants are full because many New Yorkers are seeing their incomes and cyberwealth rise. They seem to have amnesia and forget what dining prices were like at lower income levels. This may not last, however. The decline in the stock market has reduced the number of stockbrokers who are dining in expensive restaurants. Consequently, for example, the owner of Two Two Two is lowering his prices substantially.
(Updated July 1, 2000)
|Source||Rick Marin, "Remember When $29 Shocked…," The New York Times, May 17, 2000.|
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