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What Is The Real Cost Of Eating Out

Updated on October 11, 2012
 A slice of the pie
A slice of the pie | Source

Dining Out

The cost of eating out is on the up as food prices continue to rise. But for most of us who enjoy eating out, it is not just the cost of the food that we are served that we readily have a moan about.A bottle of wine is the most grumbled about even though the mark-up on food is often just as great.

Favourite bottle Of Wine

The restaurant visitor is always eager to scan the delicious array of starters, mains and desserts on the menu and be well satisfied with their choice of Fare.

Whilst choosing your bottle of wine you scrupulously survey the price list and find that your favourite bottle of Chablis or Roja is sold at £25 a bottle.More than three times the price you may pay at your local wine merchants.

Oh yes we can see straight away that they are making a 300% mark up as you sit sipping your favourite tipple before you begin to eat.Of course we realise that we have to pay the waiter to open the wine and pour it.

It is obvious with wine, but we don't just as readily see the real cost of the food we eat.


Soup is many a diners preference to start their meal.At £3.99? those who are adept at making their own soup will know how much you can make a bowl of soup for. Salads can be thrown together quite easily, these starter probably have a far more heftier profit margin than bottles of wine.

Even if we choose prawn cocktails or the smoked salmon with goats cheese the extra we pay will ensure a healthy mark up.

Main courses

Restaurants work on the principle that the ingredients for each dish is around 30% of the overall cost. So whether you are having the liver or the lobster the profits will remain the same.

Regular diners will know if their favourite eatery are reducing their portions or skimping on the ingredients ,like suddenly omitting the queen scallops from the seafood pasta dish.

Truffles and caviar would obviously make the dishes far more expensive, but most restaurants realise there is a limit to what most customers will pay and would not set a price to high.


Most amatuer cooks know how difficult it is to perfect a crème brulee or apple tart tatin but how often is ice-cream marked up as the same price.I have been informed by many cafe owners that ice-cream is easily the big profit maker.

The very best profits are served up at the end of the meal when you order your latte or double espresso, then the tills are ringing with joy.

The Bill

After the cost of the food ingredients the restaurant owner is left with 65-70 % , now most of this will be covering the cost of staff wages, lighting, heating, rent and rates etc .After all this it is a wonder they make any profit and no surprise that many new restaurants close within 12 months of opening.

So generally the mark up on food is higher than for wine and drinks.With the price of food rising rapidly eating out is becoming a rare treat, but if we enjoy it we have to support our local eatery and budget accordingly.


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