Leading chefs have defended the sales strategies of restaurants after a report listing the top 10 rip-off tactics warned diners of common dupes.
The BBC's Olive magazine last week suggested that high charges for wine and special-occasion menus, mark-ups on mineral water, upselling extra food and drink unnecessarily, and price hikes after positive press reviews were among the biggest restaurant cons.
The report claimed that up to 86% of the price of wine can be profit, mineral water was being increased up to 10 times its value, and menus to mark special occasions such as Valentine's Day often cost twice the usual amount.
But Jeff Galvin, chef-proprietor of Galvin Bistrot de Luxe in London, said that while some of the accusations in the report might be fair, most restaurants were simply trying to make a living. "Restaurants will always have their mark-ups because they're needed to make a profit," he said. "We run set menus for special events such as New Year's Eve and because we get in more expensive ingredients and provide additional entertainment we have to charge more than normal to make ends meet."
Bjorn van der Horst, chef-patron at London's Michelin-starred La Noisette, argued that running a restaurant was like running any other business, and with ever-increasing overheads, prices had to go up.
"Upselling, for instance, is something every business does, so it's really hypocritical to single out restaurants," he said. "Of course there has to be a limit, and it shouldn't be done to the detriment of a customer, but there's nothing wrong with inviting diners to add extras that will enhance their experience."
Top 10 restaurant ‘rip-offs'
- Rising prices
- Wine mark-ups
- Cover charge
- Special-occasion menu
- Mineral water
- Extra courses
- Daily specials
- Set lunch
Source: Olive magazine
By Kerstin Kühn
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