Just like everything else in this superficial world we live in going out to eat is a status symbol. Going out to a fancy restaurant is just as important as BEING SEEN in a fancy restaurant. It’s quite similar to being seen in a high end retail store like Coach or Louis Vuitton. People will go in to these stores with no intention of buying their overpriced accessories. They look around, touch the merchandise, then hope someone they know sees them. After that they go to Wal-mart and get the handbag or footwear that they need.
I have been to just about every restaurant type imaginable. Along with fast food and chain restaurants, I’ve been to steak houses where the steak cost more than my monthly car payment. I’ve been to Italian restaurants in which the total check made my eyes leave their sockets. Of course who can forget the tourist traps we all go to when we’re on vacation. We figure we’re on vacation so who cares if we spend 20 bucks for a hamburger.
In these trying economic times, people are staying home more than ever. Restaurants are suffering. They are doing whatever they can to bring in customers. I get more coupons and special offers from eateries than I do junk mail these days. My wife and I take advantage of these deals and use whatever they send us when we go out for dinner…it’s silly not to.
Why go to an expensive restaurant and give them an entire week’s paycheck when I can go to TGI Fridays and have a quality meal for a fraction of the price? In my opinion, there isn’t much difference in the quality of food. Essentially, you’re paying for the ambiance and decor of the restaurant. Also mixed in to the prices are what I like to call a, “right to be there” fee. It’s almost like a cover charge. For those who are all about status, it’s worth it to them.
Wealthy people can certainly afford a high end restaurant. A 50 dollar steak to them is like a McDonald’s hamburger to the rest of us. This isn’t class envy of jealousy on my part, this is just about practicality. There are far more people who struggle and live week to week than there are millionaires. Those who cannot afford upscale places but go anyway are playing a dangerous game of chicken. Is being seen at a restaurant you can’t afford more important than making sure your essential bills are paid? Sadly, for some people the answer is yes.
I understand the food is prepared differently and the overall quality of service is better at high end eateries but when you boil everything down, steak is still steak…pasta is still pasta…seafood is still seafood. Living above our means in this economy is foolish, especially when middle of the road restaurants make it worth your while with their myriad of offers and discounts. I can take my family out for a wonderful, yummy dinner and spend no more than $40. What would $40 get you in a trendy mid-town Manhattan night spot? You’d probably need $40 just to give the Maitre D to get a table. Living within one´s means, or failure to do so, is one of the reasons that cause the economic meltdown of 2008. We all enjoy going out to eat every now and treating ourselves to a good meal. There are plenty of affordable places to go. Leave the expensive restaurants to those who can afford them.