Restaurants need to shift to electronic menus for real-time price adjustments?

From a barbecue joint in Boynton Beach, Florida: “due to the shortages of commodities within the market such as chicken wings, pork and also beef we must increase the prices from what the menu prices reflect until the market begins to normalize. … we hope to retain you as a customer as we navigate these unchartered waters.” [sic]

I find it fascinating that the folks who run this restaurant imagine that their costs will come back down (“normalize”) at some point in the reasonably near future. For places that aren’t as optimistic about our economic future, should they all switch to big screen TVs for menu display? Prices will need to be adjusted every month or two at the current rate of inflation, right?


17 thoughts on “Restaurants need to shift to electronic menus for real-time price adjustments?

  1. I have a client that I usually run a job for every month. This year he skipped almost the entire summer, but is running it for November. The wholesale price of the job has increased by 3.7% since July 15, three months ago.

    I sent him the invoice and he was shocked. I said: “This is the actual real world price increase with all my discounts. I am not adding a penny for myself. I appreciate your business as always, and I was not informed of these increases in any way. It’s a surprise to me also and I’ve had to adjust all my prices on virtually everything I do except for my work. I have not added anything.”

    These are high-quality printed items.

    • Upstream from me in the process, this means that my partner’s base prices for paper, ink, supplies to run the machines, energy, shipping and labor have combined to produce a 14.8% inflation rate if they continue this way until next July. My partner is *very good* with their numbers, they have a super-sophisticted pricing system and I know from more than a dozen years of experience with them they try not to raise their prices on commonly produced items. They try to absorb the transitory shocks and spread them out. Usually a price increase of this kind happens once a year, sometimes every two years, and they do big volumes (I’m a very small client of theirs) so they have their finger on the pulse of the lowest commodity prices in the business.

      This was an almost unprecedented mid-year price increase. In the past six months they have also suffered from various labor problems which have resulted in quality control lapses, delays even on rush orders (“Next Day” turns into “Three Days” but the price doesn’t change) and chat lines and phone lines that are always busy with upset people wondering “WTF?”

      If you get 20,000 sheets of what was supposed to be high-quality printing and the colorimetry is off by 20% or more, making the roast beef dinner on a restaurant ad look like raw meat, there’s a problem and you have to throw them away.

      These people buy paper by the multiple truckload full.

      Downstream, the guy I produce these for is squeezed him to bump his advertising prices and he is going to have to charge more for the stuff I send him. This instantly dings the businesses that rely on them, and I presume they will adjust their prices also, or do less advertising, or find some other form of advertising. In the end, someone who is in the market for a product or service will pay more this fall and winter. I do not live in a “wealthy” area. These are not “high class problems” unless that means: “You need to be high class to afford this now. Suck it up, buttercup. You didn’t go to Harvard.”

    • @Socrates: Thank you for the words of encouragement, I appreciate them. This situation is an interesting philosophical problem, and as I’m sure you are aware, a lot of it doesn’t stand up to probing analysis – as it hasn’t many times in the past! For example, the White House Chief of Staff has tweeted in support of a Harvard professor who asserts that these are “high class” problems. Since I’m decidedly not “high class” I suppose that I should ignore them and rest assured that I am not affected by them. Why would anyone from Harvard say things that aren’t true?

      On the other hand, I could do what a lot of other “low class” people have done and raise my prices also, as an act of self-preservation (dare I say, “radical self-love?”) and because everyone else seems to be doing it, so I should too. Wouldn’t that make America more of a “classless society” – in contradistinction to the dominant narrative that class (and race, and gender) are in fact the most important factors and forces at work in our country? But if everyone is doing same thing, how is that true?

      I suppose that on some Ideal Platonic level, there must be a clear and obvious way to understand this situation, if I could only escape from my Cave long enough to see them – but I fear that my level of education doesn’t give me access to that plane, despite my having lived through the 1970s and read quite a bit that was written by Karl Marx and his various acolytes over the years. They currently seem to be in ascendance.

      But wouldn’t Uncle Karl want me to not to care about myself or my capitalist business because it’s a false consciousness and a betrayal of my Proletarian brothers?

      It’s all so confusing.

      I’m being a little vague with all the above, but I guess at some point I’ll put on my Powerslave t-shirt, crank up that old song and follow suit with everyone else who is caught in these circumstances that they really don’t control. But I guess that self-fulfilling prophesies are real enough, and I guess some of the poorly-explained supply chain problems are real, so we’re all in for a long, hard ride – despite what Jen Psaki says.

    • @Socrates: Psychology, not sociology. “Doctor, Heal Thyself!” 🙂 Listen I should have known the instant she told me she wanted to have a “Pagan Wedding” – about two years into the relationship but 1) I didn’t know what a “Pagan Wedding” even meant at the time and 2) I figured: “Oh, she’ll change her mind. I can do anything!” Thank you for the link, I’ll read it.

      She’s a sex therapist now also! Continuing education, and with 150+ genders, it’s a target-rich environment!

    • I’m sorry for the OT posts, but heads up to everyone else: If your love interest mentions in an offhand way one night while you’re sitting at a nice restaurant eating vegetarian food and talking about the future that they really want to have a Pagan Wedding, make sure you do the research and think about whom you’re sleeping with.

      Hey, it’s in Vogue, so it’s OK!

  2. True liberals and communists and Democrats are all closet racists or chauvinists. They think they things that failed other would work for them because they are better then others. False liberals and smart communists or original school Democrats know it will hurt or destroy but are doing on purpose faking incompetence.

  3. Due to so-called sticky price phenomenon, prices are unlikely to return to previous levels (“normalization”) in the restaurant industry regardless. The tight labor market added to rise in price of raw materials, including the diesel fuel needed to transport the food, are potentially leading us into hyperinflation in the months ahead? If they seriously infuse the economy with another $3.5T, I am thinking hyperinflation is a near-certainty???

    This has happened on a smaller scale with “Market Price” listed for crab and lobster and probably now filet mignon since those prices rose astonomically summer 2021. The famous Woody’s in Dewey Beach (DE, where Christine Blasey-Ford put together her plan summer 2018) had charged $17.50 for its crabcake for almost a decade, including as recently as April 2021; it was $25 in July 2021. Plus carry-out was no longer allowed on crabcakes (probably cuz they need to make money on drinks which have a larger margin since the crab cake may even have become a loss leader of sorts once the price for crabmeat went to $60/lb. wholesale in my area of Delmarva).

  4. Don’t worry, this is already happening in Europe. A nasty side effect of COVID means many restaurants resorted to having menus via QR code, where the servers just show you a QR code with a link to a page where the prices are shown (and which obviously can be updated on the fly with zero cost). This was to avoid people touching physical menus, but has kept going in many places. A real plague. I’ve actually been to places where the restaurant no longer takes any payment, and you need to order stuff via a webpage or – worse – an app. Then you show the receipt to the garçon and he will process your order. A real scourge!

  5. Interesting that while US’s inflation rages, Chinese real estate developers are going bankrupt left & right. After Evergrande last week, it was China Properties Group Ltd this week. They’re making all the bad debt go away by printing money. As long as people are the mindless slaves evolution hard wired them to be, no amount of logic will create any upward pressure on interest rates.

  6. The Halal Guys across the street from Teterboro Airport installed electronic menus about six months. I made a joke that it would be easier for them to increase prices that way without it being obvious and they laughed and they laughed…

    Guess who instituted a price increase about two months ago?

  7. Inflection is here already, our government and media is afraid to use the “I” word and it is far worse that in the past because this time around there is so much $$ being pumped directly into the hands of consumers than ever before. This is worse than having UBI (universal basic income).

    And CPI that our government publishes is just a numbers game, doesn’t reflect reality.

    My question is: for how long will Costco be able to keep their hotdogs at $1.50 and their roasted chicken at $4.99?

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