Pulling Back the Curtain on Eating in Restaurants

When you spend $76 on a nice dinner out what are you really buying?

If you drink, it’s mostly alcohol. (The retail markup on alcohol is 200 – 300%.)

To find out the rest, go out to to Cash n Carry or any restaurant supply store on Saturday or Sunday morning as soon as they open, say 6 a.m.

(You can do this because you’ve prioritized your health over partying every Friday and Saturday night.)

Hang out in the store for a while. Pick up some sriracha for a screaming deal. But most importantly, watch the restauranteurs who come through and see what the buy.

Carton after carton of spinach and salad greens in plastic boxes. Big 5-lb bags of pasta shells. Sugar-laden sauces. And these ingredients are going into the really nice restaurants in your city, where a plate of pasta costs $27.

There’s this implicit mythology in restaurants that the hard-working farmer rode up on his burro and delivered burlap sacks filled with whole-wheat, non-GMO pasta shells to the restaurateur but that’s not how it happened: the stuff was shipped 3,000 miles across the continent from a mass-production facility.

So what are you paying for?

You’re paying for their high rent. You’re paying to keep the employees going. You’re paying a markup for food, water & lights. You’re paying for an expensive liquor license.

But don’t for a second think you’re paying for food quality. What you eat at restaurants is generally much worse quality food that you could buy at Whole Foods or even better a local choice supermarket for at least 50% less money.

Now there are some exceptions with restaurants that will tell you the source of their meat or dairy and it’s local, and this is great. But all too few of them still in the United States.

But look more closely at these restauranteurs. They’re hustlers — probably legitimate 1% with $1.8M assets and income before retirement of $180 – 250k.

Either they stuck their retirement chip into the restaurant and made it (very hard) or they’ve been in the biz for a while and built it up from nothing, maybe a $50k loan (also hard). These are the hardworking upper-middle-class who form(ed) the backbone of America, so smile at them.

But if you really want to be 1%, don’t go eat in their restaurants where you can’t trust the food they bought at the Cash n’ Carry.

Buy direct from farmers and cook your own food and save 50 – 250%, buying yourself both health AND wealth.


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