Apr 26, 2022

Why We Pay More at Certain Restaurants

During your next visit to your favorite restaurant, you should know that it is not just you who decides how much to pay. How come? Here are 8 ways restaurant owners get us to spend more.

Next time use this list and try to identify these psychological methods and techniques. By seeing these, you should be able to reduce your final bill and not fall prey to the restaurant owner's psychological strategies.

Appetizing Descriptions

The descriptions serve to create sensory experiences for you while reading the menu. According to a study by Cornell University, exaggerated and beautified descriptions can increase the sale of a dish by 27%.

In addition, restaurant owners know that the use of brand names in the description of a dish increases its order rate. Why? This is because people are reassured when they see a brand known for the quality of its products.

Attractive Photos

An attractive photo that accompanies a dish in the menu creates a visual experience. This tactic increases the sales of this dish by 25-30% according to the same study.

No Dollar Sign Next to Price

Did you see that there is no dollar sign on some restaurant menus? It's not a mistake. It's a very subtle tactic. According to several studies, a menu without dollar signs sees a growing bill. The reason is that the $ symbol or the mention 'dollar' reminds us of money that we should spend. This recall creates a mental association related to a loss (expense) that creates feelings of discomfort and guilt. Because of this, you won't see a dollar sign on most menus in Canadian restaurants.

Psychological Pricing

The tactic of ending prices by .95 or .99 cents is working well so far. Psychology says people always round down. So the $14.95 dish seems to cost you more like $14 and not $15. So when you see a club sandwich for $9.99, know it's $10.

Exotic Names

Using foreign names is another method to make the dish more authentic. Names of foreign origin create associations of adventure, travel, vacation. This is why a dish of linguine with something else included may seem more appetizing and more exciting than a dish of pasta. This method also makes it possible to raise the price of the dish just by changing its name to another of foreign origin.

Limited Choice

By limiting the choice to 6 or 10 dishes, it is easier for a restaurant to manage the menu. In addition, the limited choice removes any responsibility that the customer may feel towards the food.

Here is what I have to face every time I go to a Subway: Would you like a salad with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? Your bread: white, multi-grain, gluten-free. ... Me: Stop, I don't know. I'll go get a Big Mac.

Smart restaurant owners know that the customer does not go to the restaurant to rack their brains. We're here to have fun and enjoy our food.

More Expensive Dishes are Highlighted and Come First

Have you thought why some dishes are highlighted or are presented at the top of the menu list? In addition, their descriptions are written in bold characters, in aggressive colors, the descriptions are accompanied by a very appetizing photo.

The answer: restaurateurs highlight the most profitable dishes (translation: the most expensive!). To prove the truth of this phenomenon, there is a Korean study which showed that customers order the first dish they see on the menu. The solution to oppose this effect is to leaf through the menu until the end.


Scientific research says that a restaurant that plays classical music sees more revenue. This is because visitors feel richer in such an ambience. On the other hand, if super modern music is there, the amounts spent will be lower - almost 10% difference with classical music.

In addition, it is the whole environment (dishes, light, colors, smells) creates an atmosphere that encourages more spending.