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Posting Specials with a Price?

My Father and I have been on a long standing agrument (for lack of better word) on if restaurants should advertise the price of all thier items.

For example going into a bar with large tap or bottles selection should they have the price of everything listed on thier board? ALso if there are specials , should they focus on the price ?

I sometimes find listing pricing can be somewhat tacky in nicer establisments. Any comments?

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  1. I would LOVE it if restaurants listed the prices of specials--not tacky at all! I find it more honest, actually. Or, if not actually showing the price on a board, at least having the waitstaff rattle off the prices along with the descriptions of said specials. I do understand that the absence of prices can be trick designed to get people to order more expensive items, but I find that a bit disingenious.

    1. In any place that would have specials posted on a chalkboard or dry-erase board, the price should listed.

      In the 'nicer' establishments that you refer to, specials would probably be on an attachment or insert with the menu, and the prices should be there.

      If neither is the case, and the specials are recited by the server, they should state the price. To me, the tacky aspect would be for the patron to have to ask the price, revealing that for whatever reason, price is a concern. [The inference being that if I ask the price, I'm interested in the dish, but if I dont order it, it was because it was too expensive for me. It could be very embarassing if on a date.]

      Personally, I dont have the same expectation of bars.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Fydeaux

        I agree. The only "tacky" thing here is putting the customer in the position of having to risk embarrassment by asking how much.

        1. re: Leonardo

          I'm NEVER embarrassed to ask the price of the specials. In fact, I almost always interrupt the server as he/she recites the specials by asking, "...and the price of that is...?" I ask even when I'm not interested in ordering it. I ask for every appetizer and every entree mentioned as a special without a mention of price. I think it's rude of the restaurant to have a policy of not including the price after describing the specials; it's not embarrassing for me to ask for information I'm entitled to. The price is a relevant part of the description. Why don't restaurants get that? This is one of my biggest restaurant pet peeves. Specials ought to be described in writing and added to the menu. That saves me from having to ask the server to describe the specials again (and sometimes again).

        2. re: Fydeaux

          To me, the tacky aspect would be for the patron to have to ask the price, revealing that for whatever reason, price is a concern. [The inference being that if I ask the price, I'm interested in the dish, but if I dont order it, it was because it was too expensive for me. It could be very embarassing if on a date.]

          VERY GOOD POINT. at times I wish Chowhound had a like option

          1. re: Augie6

            See my comment above. I think it's more tacky for the server to NOT offer the price. The prices are given on the written menu; why not on the verbal menu?

            PLEASE don't feel embarrassed about asking. It implies nothing about your willingness to pay the price.

          2. Do you feel listing prices on the regular menu is "somewhat tacky" in a nicer restaurant?

            Yes, I want the prices to be listed or the server to state them. To me it's pretty tacky for a restaurant to blindly price a special significantly higher because they are betting on customers to not inquire about the cost.

            1. I'm with the folks who think it's tacky to make a paying customer wonder how much they'll be paying for their food. I generally try to stay away from places where people like to pretend that money is no object.

              The mentality of *if you have to ask, you can't afford it* is really offputting to me. I lived in one of those bourgeois-aspirational communities for over a decade and I know a lot of people who got themselves in deep, deep debt pretending it didn't matter what something costs them.

              This reminds me of that upselling thread...

              4 Replies
              1. re: inaplasticcup

                I've always hated "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" for a number of reasons, but one is because more often than not, it's not an issue of being able to afford it but simply wanting to know if you think it's worth the price. Being able to afford something shouldn't mean a person wants to throw money out the window to prove it.

                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    Who buys something without knowing the cost? If I have to ask, I consider it poorer service. It makes me feel awkward. If I don't ask and get gigged, then I really have a bad image in my mind of the restaurant. I don't know why restaurants don't print the daily specials out with the prices and give it to you when they bring the menu. Why am I looking at a menu without all the options?

                  2. I think it is tacky of the restaurant to *not* include price with written or verbal description. It puts the diner in an awkward spot.

                    This goes for drinks, as well. I often see that prices for soda, tea, coffee, milk, etc. do not include the price. Sometimes, even mineral water prices are not listed and we were once hit with a $12/bottle tab!! That bugs the heck out of me and will guarantee I will not return. I think everything should have a price next to it and if "market price" is listed, the server should, without prompting, tell every table what the prices are for those items.

                    Many years ago, I was with a date at a restaurant where the server gave all of the specials but no prices. The gentleman I was with asked , "So, those are the free specials?" The waiter was a little flustered and said, "NO!" He responded with, "Well, you didn't state a price, so I figured they were free." It actually was very funny at the time and he made his point. It kind of diffused an awkward situation because we were college students and price DID matter... significantly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Generally, if the specials are in the same price range as the majority of the menu items, I don't need to hear the prices, if the server is reciting them. If there is a significant deviation, however, the price should be clearly stated.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Whinerdiner

                        How do you know "if the specials are in the same price range as the majority of the menu items" if the price is not stated or printed?

                        1. re: wyogal

                          ...and, if the specials ARE in the same price range, I still want that reassurance.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            of course. I was just wondering how that person can determine that if the prices are not posted or stated.

                      2. What other hounds had to say about this one of the many times it's come up:


                        1. It's the law here, but a lot of places still don't state it or print it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mcf

                            curious where here is? Checked your profile and it said you were in NY; is it a NY State law? Here in California our Governor would probably say it is something that shouldn't be regulated by law, but the few times I've been badly stung I've wished it was.... (worst was once in Vegas when I ordered a poached pear as the dessert special at lunch, and when the bill came discovered that it was $20!).

                          2. I have gone on many an internet e-rant about this. The price of the specials should never be a mystery. There are few things more infuriating than ordering an interesting sounding dish only to learn at the end of the meal that it's literally twice as expensive as *comparable* dishes on the regular menu.

                            And no. I should NOT have to ask what the prices is.

                            1. All prices should be listed. It's a transaction, not a guessing game. There's nothing "tacky" about it. Restaurants that make me ask the price of specials are places that 1) I will not have the special and 2) I won't be back. It reeks of attitude, and demands that the customer plead for the information which should be clearly available.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lifeasbinge

                                While we, at least l, are sometimes a PIA, l am with you completely and do the exact same thing. l invariably cut my nose off to spite my face, but in this instance so what. It is principle!

                              2. Whether it is a restaurant or a car lot, if the prices aren't clearly posted, I take my business elsewhere.

                                1. It is tacky when waiters recite specials and do not list the price. Very Tacky.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: psawce

                                    The quickest solution is to stop them dead in their tracks and ask for the price before they move on to the next recitation. Do this for each special.

                                  2. Any restaurant that does not provide the price of specials without the customer asking is either:

                                    trying to gloss over the disparity in pricing (versus the dishes with published prices)


                                    full of excuses ("It's so HARD to write the specials up on a whiteboard", "It's so EXPENSIVE to print a little attachment", "My DOG ate my specials list").

                                    1. I wish every restaurant listed the prices of their specials. I agree with others that it is tacky to make a customer feel cheap when s/he asks for the price. But I usually do ask now, because I have been gouged in the past, once paying for a special that was double the highest-priced item on the menu. And no matter how wealthy you are or what you can afford, it is always foolish to allow yourself to be ripped off. I'll bet even Warren Buffet asks the price of specials.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Isolda

                                        I'll bet the same. He's always come across as a very sensible and down to earth person.

                                        1. re: Isolda

                                          I'm sure he does. He didn't get where he is by being a patsy. If you let yourself be cheated, someone will come along to oblige you, including restaurant owners.

                                          I'd bet the restaurants think, "If they're not willing to ask the price, they're not going to be willing to protest it when they see the bill." and they are probably right.

                                        2. A friend of mine just told me a great story about this. He and his wife went to an upscale restaurant with another couple. Their friends tend to "show off" a bit when it comes to money, and they would never ask the price of a special...Of course they both order the "market price" meals without asking the price. My friends could barely contain their giggles as their friends tried to maintain their composure when the bill arrived and both of their entrees were north of $100.00!


                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Burghfeeder

                                            Care to share what entrees they paid 100+ for? Was this just a big pile of shaved white truffles on abalone or something?

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              I was guessing something like roast wooping crane with a bald eagle and panda bear ragu.

                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                Panda is my fave. But I only eat the ears and feed the rest to the cat.

                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                  I don't think that wooping crane, eagle and panda would cost that much! Anyway their meal was sushi and the restaurant was in New York City, so I'm sure that added to the cost. I don't care, my $40 steak was fine for me, and about all I care to pay.

                                                  They said the sushi was great...I would hope so!!!


                                            2. Can anyone think of another instance when they would purchase an item of other than
                                              insignificant value without knowing the price? Why should a restaurant expect you to
                                              do that without putting you in the awkward position of having to ask? Besides, if you
                                              purchased an article of clothing and found it too expensive, one would hope you'd have
                                              the option of returning it. That option isn't availible if you've already eaten the item!

                                              1. With the technology available at this time, there is no reason that any restaurant with a printed menu cannot also provide a list of daily specials. I have a great deal of difficulty remembering any sort of verbal exchange, and therefore am unable to remember the recitation of specials. Printed information, including price, would be so helpful!

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: KarenDW

                                                  I totally agree with you. So what is it that keeps restaurants from printing their daily specials on a menu insert -- or even reprinting the entire menu to include the specials? And of course those printed specials would include the prices. How dumb would it be for a restaurant to print menus and not include the prices? Aren't they doing that, in a way, when the specials are recited rather than printed? (I know, I know -- there ARE menus that don't include prices. That's a whole other topic, though -- "Sexism in restaurants")

                                                  1. re: KarenDW

                                                    That's why I rarely order specials when they are verbal. I can't remember the details and I quickly forget. But when given a printed list of the specials I usually order from them.

                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                      And you know what's even worse than not mentioning the prices of specials? It's when the customer asks the price and the server says, "I don't know. Let me check on that for you." It's not the asking of the price that's tacky -- it's the ineptitude of the server.

                                                      I wonder if decision makers at restaurants care about their customers' opinions and preferences regarding the presentation format of specials. Personally, I don't think they care at all. I think that once they get this notion that it's somehow déclassé to print a menu of specials, or to mention the price of a special, they stand on this matter of principle, most often to their disadvantage.

                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                        I had a thread on this topic a couple of years ago. There's a series of three restaurants in the East Village (Manhattan) where they do this. The normal printed menu has pasta dishes on the regular menu that are in the 9-13 dollar range. Invariably their pasta specials are 18-25, with no notably "special" ingredients. Want that Burrata appetizer? That'll set you back 21.50, where a standard caprese salad is something like 8.95. They typically have many daily specials, and their "ordinary" menu is, well... ordinary. So it seems they *really* want you to order the specials.

                                                        Then you feel cheated when you get whacked for a $20 entree.

                                                        The point of my saying all this is no, I don't think they actually care if their patrons feel cheated. The restaurants have been wildly popular for well over a decade, and people In The Know don't order the specials--or if they do, they know they're going to be significantly more money.

                                                        They're busy enough that they can afford to "burn" 25% of their customers and make a much higher profit on them. If they never seem them again, they'll be okay.

                                                        1. re: egit

                                                          I'm curious -- which restaurants are those in the East Village? My daughter lives in that neighborhood and I'm wondering if they're places she frequents.

                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                            Frank. Li'l Frankie's and Supper. All the same owner. All the same MO. I don't really frequent the EV anymore, but when I did I still went to those restaurants. I just *rarely* ordered the specials after feeling burnt a couple of times.

                                                            1. re: egit

                                                              Here's a thread I started on this topic almost three years ago:


                                                              For what it's worth, I mentioned the same range of prices in that thread. Now when I look at the prices on menupages, I see the prices for the "ordinary" items have gone up considerably.

                                                              1. re: egit

                                                                FWIW, there's been several threads re: this topic.

                                                                I linked to another one up thread in September. Guess this never gets old...

                                                  2. It annoys me to no end when restaurants do this. As much as I know I shouldn't be embarassed to ask the price, I often am (but I usually ask anyway). Once in a while we just forget and assume that the price will be reasonable and get burned. Last weekend at a coffee shop I handed $20 to my SO and asked him to order me a latte and an eclair. He did and when I got back he handed me $9. Umm..turns out the eclair was $6.75! At least it was tasty, but seriously...I was pretty irritated. If I'd known it was that much, I would have passed.

                                                    1. I definitely think the price should be available - it can be read and ignored if not needed, but for everybody else who wants to know, it's absolutely necessary.

                                                      For my birthday a while ago, my boyfriend took me to a nicer place in the North End in Boston. All the menu items looked reasonably priced for the setting (somewhere between $15 to 30 entrees). When the waiter came to take our order, he rattled off a few specials, one of which (seafood - lobster, etc) sounded amazing. I (being sort of naive) thought it would be along the same price as the other seafood on the menu and asked for it. My boyfriend was curious and asked him the price - it was $55!? I immediately said 'No thanks, I'll go with another dish'. BF wasn't very happy and it was kind of embarrassing...I just didn't want to have him spend all that money! It was definitely awkward and made the rest of the night kind of bad. I wish it had been avoided by the waiter simply stating the price...

                                                      10 Replies
                                                      1. re: jumpingarcher

                                                        I think it's outrageous and unbelievably presumptuous to have a special priced at twice the cost of the average entree and not have the price of it mentioned by the server. I don't think you were being naive at all to think the special was priced in line with the other entrees. It's too bad that the restaurant's asinine policy left you feeling awkward -- it should have been the restaurant owner who felt awkward.

                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                          Unfortunately, the North End is loaded with tourist traps that do just that. Since so much of their business is not repeat customers, they can afford to be shady.

                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                            Then maybe customers need to maintain the upper hand by simply asking the price of specials -- consistently, and maybe even repeatedly for the same specials. If the restaurant wants to maintain irritating policies, customers can be obnoxious, too.

                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                              I absolutely agree, except with the notion that asking the prices of specials is obnoxious. It's no more obnoxious than wanting prices printed on a menu.

                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                Indeed. I refuse to cooperate with the noxious notion that it is obnoxious to ask for what should be given in the first place as a matter of basic hospitality.

                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                  I didn't mean that asking the price of a special is obnoxious (see my posts above); what I meant is that the customer, in "retaliation" for the absence of the price mention, can be obnoxious in his/her request for the price of EVERY special, regardless of intent to order it, and maybe even ask repeatedly for the same information -- which should have been printed, or at least offered, in the first place.

                                                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                                                    Okay, but then that becomes more like abusing the server for management policies over which the server has little to no control. Which is your right, but I don't think I'd want to sample your food if you made someone jump through hoops like that just to prove a point, if you get my drift.

                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                      Ahhhh... okay -- I DO get it. So, how then to best communicate what seem to be widespread customer preferences to those restaurants whose policies irk us? Is it time for the 99% to speak up en masse?

                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                        You can always express your displeasure to management...

                                                              2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                I know nothing about the North End or just how touristy it might be. But thanks to the ever-growing pervasiveness of Internet via phones, tablets, and other portable devices affecting even last-minute decision making, hopefully the kinds of places that dont care about repeat customers will also find a stunning lack of first-time customers.

                                                          2. In my dotage, I've now taken to interrupting the server before the specials litany begins, saying, "please give us the price of each item."

                                                            1. Here's a story about the ultimate downside of not asking for the price of a special:


                                                              $275 for a plate of pasta!