Five ways restaurants may be tricking you into spending more money

Restaurant strategies
Some restaurants may use certain tricks to get you to spend more money.
(Miguel Medina / AFP / Getty Images)

Restaurants put a lot of effort into serving you a meal, and not all of it happens back in the kitchen. According to a new list of restaurant tricks by Business Insider, from the music to the way a menu is presented, it’s all part of a ploy to get diners to spend more money. 

Of course that’s not what dining out is all about. With the national restaurant turnover rate at almost 60%, most restaurants aren’t in this business for the money. It’s about the food, but this list does bring to mind a couple of interesting facts about how restaurants may put a little strategy into your dining experience.  

If the restaurant plays classical music, it may be putting you in the mood to buy the more expensive bottle of wine. Classical music is associated with making diners feel prosperous, according to research from the University of Leicester

Another trick on the list involves the lack of dollar signs. If you don’t see them on a menu, it’s a way to make you forget you’re spending money. Research from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration suggests people spend more money when prices are written without the dollar signs. 


Some restaurants use brand names to help boost sales. Instead of listing its famous whiskey-flavored sauce as whiskey sauce, T.G.I. Friday’s calls it Jack Daniel’s sauce, attracting fans of the liquor brand. This is also part of a greater strategy to include more descriptive language, which according to research by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign can increase sales by 27%. 

Ever order a lasagna because it was named after the chef’s grandmother? Nonna’s lasagna does sound better than vegetable lasagna, doesn’t it? The family connection can remind you of your own grandmother’s cooking and make you feel compelled to order a dish. (This may work with some items, but calling a $100 tasting menu something along the lines of Mom’s feast may not catch on as quickly.)

And some eateries list certain dishes at a higher price to make the rest of the menu seem more reasonable, according to menu engineer Gregg Rapp.  A $22 salad may look like an affordable option when listed next to a $58 steak. 

You can read the full list of restaurant strategies online


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