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Menu Prices

I was just checking through a few places that interest me, and found some that do not list their prices. I immediately reject such places on principle, but is there a legitimate reason to not inform a potential patron of the price range? Is it for fear the curious patron will feel that the place is a potential rip-off? I know the stock answer is changing menu prices, but the average diner can handle that shock. Many diners have a price limit, and like to know these little details.

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  1. I think it's pretentious.

    1. Fair prices are volatile, subject to change.

      1. I don't understand the concept behind not publishing prices. If the price changes, have a new menu printed. If your prices change often enough for the cost of printing to be a major concern, you need to rethink the way you price your selections.
        For places that have changing menu's, you publish a new menu anyway.

        1. If you are talking about online menus, please refer to other recent threads. Very few restaurants host their own websites and rely on contractors/friends to do so. That means that if the menu and/or prices change, they need to wait for the other people to update it. It is easier to offer sample menus online and for the customers to call and see what dishes are offered and what the price range is.

          Call and ask. Do not rely on the internet.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mojoeater

            I wish restaurant menu sites would go ahead and print prices, BUT also include a "last updated" on the menu. It would help so much.

            1. re: mojoeater

              Exactly, the internet is still an evolving place especially in terms of things like restaurant menus. Its one thing to have menus printed in the restaurant (and often, they have a printer in house and can do it on a daily basis) its another to have to update a website every day or with every change. Often, even places that have prices on online menus only have sample menus up and so it isn't actually giving you the specific information about whats on the menu that night or that week. Its better, I think, to skip putting the prices online rather than have prices that are then entirely misleading for one reason or another.

              So, i don't find it all pretentious (in fact, most of the "pretentious" restaurants I can think of do have prices online -- in a quick and entirely unscientific scan, that is :) ). A quick call to the restaurant will let you know what a starter costs and what an entree costs.

              1. re: mojoeater

                Agreed with mojoeater - if you're talking about the Internet, then that's a valid reason why restaurants don't publish their prices there. (Would still be helpful if they cited a range, but not obligatory. No prices on actual menus... that's a problem.)

                Out of curiosity, if you're looking at menupages.com, are you looking at the "online menu" or the .pdf menu? I'd expect the latter to be their last-known-good printed menu.

              2. I agree with you completely. I want to know roughly what a meal is going to cost BEFORE I walk into the restaurant. That way, I can tell whether a meal there is going to fit into my budget

                1 Reply
                1. re: jlawrence01

                  In the UK restaurants must post their menu at the front of the restaurant and visible from the street or similar. I think I have always seen this in other parts of Europe too. Great idea as you can see what they serve as well as the prices.

                2. Yes, you're absolutely right, in this day and age of computers there is no excuse for not posting prices other than they figure once you are there you will be too embarsed to leave once you see their rip off prices. Restaurant prices do not change that often and they can put in a disclamer saying the prices are effective as of xx/xx/2007. Ask yourself why some restaurants are able to post prices and others choose not to.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: malibumike

                    Mojoeater answered that question above. Most restaurants do not host/run their own websites and changing the menu and prices everytime something changes in the restaurant is not a good option for them. Many restaurants don't change prices that often but many, especially smaller restaurants in fact change their menu and their prices on a weekly or even daily basis.

                    It may be that there are some hoping to do just what you say. Most, though, simply don't have the means themselves (or don't choose to spend their money paying a web designer) to update their menu online every time something changes. Clearly, if you don't like that a restaurant doesn't post its prices online and feel you will be scammed or something as a result, you shouldn't go.

                  2. jfood once heard a story that the internet has created a mindset of "hit the order button and the UPS truck is automatically in the driveway." The point is everyone, wants everything RIGHT NOW.

                    Jfood absolutely loves the idea of seeing prices on line and have not gone to restos that describe each menu item in detail with no prices. Likewise jfood understands that running both a resto and a website to be both delicious and accurate, respectively, is one thing more than required. If the resto's website has an indicative menu with prices with the comment that it is indicative and changes daily that is fine. No information is bad information and price is one of the items that goes into the resto decision.

                    If the resto has all the bells and whistles in their website they owe it to the public to give at least an indication of price points.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: jfood

                      (eta: this was not specifically addressed to jfood. oops.)

                      you'd be surprised how many people expect the website to be up-to-date at all times. even with a disclaimer prominently posted. same with dishes featured in a newspaper or magazine article. that story could have been written 6 or 8 months earlier and people go nuts if that sablefish is not to be had.

                      if somebody else hosts your site, it can cost $50-$100 any time you make changes, but managing the html. code is terribly tedious and woefully time-consuming to do in-house.

                      i think it's silly not to post prices at all, but people in general are silly.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I figure that if you're interested in eating at the restaurant, you can approach it as though they didn't have a website to begin with. Give them a call and find out. If no prices online is a dealbreaker, fair enough. At this point, we are going almost exclusively to restaurants that are on opentable.com...not because we think that restaurants that aren't using the site are bad or wrong or doing anything to make our lives difficult, but simply because its so easy to get the reservation and know we'll have a table without a long wait (and also because there are so many restaurants using the service in San Francsico). So, i can understand where people are coming from when they say they want all of the information they can get ahead of time to make informed choices. My question then: would it be better for a restaurant to not put any menu items, sample or otherwise, on the web but just put a note that says to please call for the current menu and prices? I mean this seriously.

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          i agree menus on-line should have prices. however, i also think web-trollers should be reasonable in their expectations of how up-to-the-minute is the website. i'm sorry, but unless you have special dietary concerns i'd rather not spend 15 minutes on the phone giving a molecular breakdown of every dish. (yes, this happens, and they never make a reservation. i swear they're just lonely.)

                          most places here in boston participate in opentable and also have their own websites. we are also happy to fax menus and winelists.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Oh that's a great idea I hadn't thought of. Getting a menu faxed would be very helpful at times. I know there will be a chorus of people who will say they 1) don't have a fax machine and 2) shouldn't have to call and ask for the menu to be faxed, that the meny should simply be where ever it is that they want it to be.....but that's brilliant!

                            1. re: ccbweb

                              we can e-mail them too. the info can be easily gotten.

                            2. re: hotoynoodle

                              In Fairfield County CT very few menus on line and jfood agrees that fax the menu works very well. Not only does it allow for the decision on which resto to go to, but makes the ordering once there a simpler process.

                              Jfood also use the menus for take-out when needed, as well.

                      2. A menu with prices is a must for me, online or on the storefront of the restaurant. I have to know what I am getting into. Is this a $20 entree dinner or a $250 entree dinner. I also need to have at least an idea of their menu even if it is not current because I have some major food allergies. If everything is made with wheat I can't eat there. If there are only two menu options that I can order I probably won't eat there either. I also have a dining companion who will only go so far in being adventureous. So if the menu is very small and only has some very out there dishes it will not be a fun dining experience for him either. I have noticed many restaurants are putting their menu in the front window, I wish more would do so.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: blackpointyboots

                          I totally agree (and expect that most posting here do as well) that a menu should be posted out front (or at the absolute very least, freely and happily given upon request, but really, poseted is much better). I find that virtually all the restaurants in SF have their menus out front. Its actually my version of "window shopping." My wife and I wil be walking down a block and I'm checking out all of the menus. I think restaurants should make the information as available as they can. I just also understand that it is at times difficult to do so on the web, despite appearances.

                          1. re: ccbweb

                            Frankly, I realize I may be a bit of a curmudgeon about this, I will not go a restaurant that refuses to post prices in their online menu, and I'm getting to the point where I do not waste my time going to restaurants that are too stupid (or arrogant) to have an adequate web site. In my area, there are so many good places, why waste time on the non-posters.

                          2. re: blackpointyboots

                            If no menu is posted outside, I'll go in and ask to see one while checking the place out.

                            If too expensive, too dark, or tables too close together I'll hand the menu back and say no thanks. We've left many places. An inconvenience but its our dime.

                          3. If you are talking about online just call and ask the restaurant to fax over a menu with prices or there average per person cost. There are a handful of diners who go out and nickel and dime restaurants over the $1-3 price change. If the menu is outside the restaurant w/out prices go inside ask to look at the menu.