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Sneaky menu tricks to get you to spend more

How restaurant menus get you to purchase the expensive item
Posted: 12:50 PM, Jan 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-16 19:07:15Z

You might be surprised to learn that chain restaurants do brisk business in January and February, due to all the gift cards customers received during the holidays, and Valentine's Day in mid-February.

So before you dine out for your next meal, you should know about some of the menu tricks designed to get you to spend more.

The money saving site Lifehack.org says many eateries have menus designed to steer you to purchase more expensive items.

Sneaky menu tricks include:

  • Expensive "anchor" items printed larger than other options.
  • Expensive chef specials highlighted in a box, to draw your eye.
  • First-in-show tactics, where the most profitable items like steak and lobster are listed highest, and the inexpensive chicken dish is listed last, far down the menu
  • Well-known, premium names, such as "Jack Daniels-infused" barbecue sauce, to justify a higher price.
  • Homespun names, such as "Grandma's cookies" to justify a higher price.
  • Fancier ethnic names for standard items, like pasta e fagoli, instead of its English term, macaroni with beans, which costs about $2 per serving make.

What happened to the dollar signs?

And from the "doesn't that stink" file, the disappearing dollar sign on menus.

Lifehack says more and more restaurants are removing dollar signs, the word dollars, or even the price, specially for side items and wine. For instance, a glass of cabernet may show up with a 9 next to it, instead of $9.

Studies have shown people often spend more when they don't see dollar signs, because that symbol reminds you that you are spending your hard earned money. Drop "14" on a small glass of wine, and you may say "doesn't that stink?"

Bottom line: Take your time deciding what to order. And don't be afraid to order one of the cheaper items, from the bottom of the menu, so you don't waste your money.

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