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"Nouvelle Cuisine, roughly translated, means: I can't believe I paid ninety-six dollars and I'm still hungry."
- Mike Kalin
The word "separation" invokes a general feeling of sadness in us, but when it comes to parting ways with our hard-earned money, the same word invokes depression. In today's age of recession followed by inflation (both of them not in favor of the common man), it has become very difficult to "earn and save." Nevertheless, you put in all the efforts, meet your needs, and manage to save some money so that your wants can be fulfilled. A single weekend visit to the nearby restaurant, and you are stripped off that extra money in no time!

No matter how carefully you analyze the menu and order the food, you will end up paying at least 3 times more than what you should have actually paid. Why 3 times? Because normally out of all that you have paid, one-third goes towards labor charges (includes chef, cooks, and servers), one-third towards overheads (rent, water, and electricity) and the last one-third is the profit. Amazed! I'm sure you are.

There are some more surprises in store for you which will serve as an eye opener. They'll help you to overcome the psychological tricks most eateries use. Let's have a look at some of the smart (really smart) tricks restaurants use to make you spend more.

Imagine you are entering a restaurant, and we'll see how from the start to the end, they are on the prowl to snatch the buck away from you.
As Soon As You Step In
Over-friendly Servers
guest with waitress in restaurant
Okay, you've entered the restaurant and are frantically searching for a place to sit. A server will come over to you and politely guide you to a table right next to the window. You will appreciate the gesture and feel happy.

The thought that he has purposely made you sit next to the window wouldn't even cross your mind. Yes! He has done it purposely, so that when people look at the restaurant from outside, they would get an image that the place is always busy and crowded.
Once You Settle Down
Sparkling, Flat, or Tap Water
waiter taking some order
The server will pop this question and meanwhile place the menu card on your table. If you've gone to the restaurant with your family or friends, you would be embarrassed to order tap water. You'll order sparkling water and boom! It goes on the bill.

While in some restaurants, servers may not even ask for water, they'll directly ask if you would like to order an aperitif to stimulate your appetite. If you say yes, you will end up getting not only a dry champagne but also salted peanuts and chips to increase your thirst.
Ordering Some Wine
couple drinking wine
After you've had your aperitif, you are now heading towards the daunting task of ordering wine. The sommelier has given you the leather-bound book, and here comes the trick!

Trick 1: X brand, Y brand, or Z brand? The server would ask this question and wait for your answer. Ideally, you wouldn't remember the first two as well as the third one (and you would not dare to ask the question again). The third one will usually be the costliest brand with the highest mark up done. Bang on!

Trick 2: Nobody likes to order the cheapest wine, so you would go with the second cheapest on the menu and think of it as the best deal. But the second cheapest is the one that has the highest mark up done on its price.

Trick 3: Buying by the glass is a costlier option than buying by the bottle. Usually, the highest charges are levied on the first glass (they try to recover the price of the bottle with the first glass) because after looking at the price, the chances that a second glass will be poured remains slim.

Quick Tip: Tell the server your preferred price range without hesitation, while ordering liquor and then place the order. Restaurants will always buy the cheapest liquor and mark the price up as high as they can.
Now Comes the Prime Reason - Food!
Reading the Menu
couple reading menu card
The Bible look-alike hard-bound book is their main selling point. Nowadays, menu cards are not just printed plainly, they are designed! And people who design them are called "menu engineers." Many tricks are hidden in it to make you shell out more money.

Trick 1: The top right-hand side is the premium space: This is where the costliest items and exotic dishes are always put up on the menu card. It is done because they understand that it is human tendency to first look at the right side of the menu card. And why only the costliest dish? Because when the person looks at the other items in the list outside the box, they look comparatively less priced.

Trick 2: Portion size and price: There is not much of a difference from the point of portion size between a large- and medium-sized meal, but when compared with a $50 large meal, the $30 medium-sized meal suddenly looks like a deal! Actually, it's the medium-sized meal that is usually highly marked up.

Trick 3: No currency symbol: It is one of the biggest tricks which the restaurants use. They will not put the currency symbol before the price of the listed dish. It is a psychological trick used to make the customer forget that he is paying money for the ordered dish. And the price is written in a way that does not highlight it.

Trick 4: Highlighting the 'special dish': This is another trick which they use to move the attention of the customer to the most profitable dish of the restaurant.

Trick 5: Long descriptions of dishes: This usually tempts the customer into thinking that he will be eating an exotic dish with super special ingredients, and this forces him to order that 'costly' dish.
Be it a sit-down setup, a buffet system, or a fast food restaurant, tricks to make you spend more are used by all of them.
Tricks Used by the Buffet Offerers
waiter serving chinese food
Agreed that there are discounts! But these restaurants are also no different and make sure that you eat less by using some crafty tricks.

Trick 1: They make you start with filling salads, soups, and the low-priced breads. These require lesser and cheaper ingredients and are priced high too. By the time you reach the meat, your plate is already overflowing with food.

Trick 2: Why the plate overflows? That's because they are shallow and you know why. End of the story.

Trick 3: Unusually high or low seating may discourage sitting for a long time and make you leave on a half stomach.
Restaurants Offering Combo Meals
combo fast food with drink
Bundling is the trick that is used by these types of restaurants when offering a combo meal. You are not able to compare the price of an individual item, and that is the reason you won't realize the price that you are paying for each of them. And as the common rule goes, you'll end up paying more.
Other Sneaky Ways You Are Drawn To
couple being serenaded
Up-selling by the server is a trick that goes a long way in increasing the numbers on your bill. He will suggest the most premium beer that can go along with the dish you ordered. And you may say yes without even checking its price.

» After you finish your meal, the table is cleared immediately so that you 'feel' as if you ate less food and may order some more. Clear profit for the restaurateur I must say!

» If the music playing in the background is soft, soothing, and classical, it gives a feeling of affluence, which makes people linger around longer and order more than required.
It depends on you whether or not to fall prey to these tricks, no matter how many psychological gimmicks the restaurants use. I think that after reading this write-up, the next time you visit a restaurant you'll be more vigilant and not fall easily for the tricks used by the restaurant to make you spend more.