The Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar: December 9

Every day in the leadup to Christmas, open the door to reveal a Spinoff writer’s short, sizzling commentary on a weighty subject. Our arbitrary and strictly enforced word limit: 365. Today: Kerryanne Nelson on cafes and restaurants that refuse to display prices.

Something weird has been happening in cafes and restaurants across Auckland this year. Beautiful cakes, muffins, salads and pastries are on display across town, with no prices to be seen. Why?

I like to know how much something is before I order as the price affects my decision making and perception of what’s on offer. I’ve been trying to figure out why this has been happening at more and more food establishments. It’s not for a lack of space since “White chocolate brownie cake with pistachios” takes up a lot more room than “$7”.

Is it an attempt to encourage us to talk to cafe staff? Maybe, but me asking prices for four different things seems more annoying than anything else, and takes up way too much time when people are waiting in a queue.

Is it a sly attempt to get people to just order $8 muffins and then gasp at the EFTPOS machine as the muffin’s already wrapped up, heated and buttered and it’s too late to put it back? Again, maybe.

I asked a waiter the other day if there was a reason behind it and he said he’d never really thought about it. This seems unlikely to me. Can you imagine going into a department store and just filling up your trolley without knowing how much any of the items cost and then making a call on them once they’d been scanned and priced? It would be mayhem.

I’m fully aware I can ask, but often I don’t want to. I want to look at the food and know how much it costs so I can walk out if I want, and for it to be not solely because of price.

This may seem like a dull and grinchy thing to write about, but 2018 has become the year of no prices in cafes and I want it to stop. If I don’t want your $18 salad, it’s less embarrassing for both of us if we don’t have to talk about it. Please, cafe owners, give me a price upfront and restore order and civility to the institution of lunch. 

Read the Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar in full here


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