Sneaky Ways Restaurants Trick You Into Spending Money

5 min read
Restaurant Tricks

We love to go out to eat. Americans dine out an average of four times a week. That makes it a very lucrative business. Of course, every business is in business to make money, so you expect that when you look at the prices on the menu. But beyond the obvious, restaurants have developed some slick tricks over the years designed to make you spend more money than you originally planned. Read on to discover 7 tricks so you can maneuver your way around them.

Menu Design


There are so many examples of this, we decided to put them all in one category. The very center and the top corners are the places our eyes tend to go first, so the most premium items are going to go in those spots. Also, borders and/or white space surrounding an item is one the establishment is hoping you will choose, especially if they put a decorative box around an item. Less expensive items will often appear in smaller fonts.


Restaurant Atmosphere

Hospitality operators have known for decades that up-tempo music tends to make people eat faster, while slower, quieter tunes create a mellow vibe that keeps you in your seat longer. The music you hear depends on the establishment’s goals. If it’s a busy lunch place that depends on turning tables quickly to make a profit, you can expect up-tempo tunes. At night, in a fine-dining restaurant where keeping you in your seat increases the odds of selling more wine or a dessert, expect low-key music. You might even find that the same restaurant wears a different face depending on the time of day, using faster music in the daytime for quick turns and mellow music at night for leisurely dining.

Brighter or dimmer lighting also can affect the pace at which people eat. Those restaurants that blast up-tempo music often will use bright, aggressive lighting to get you in and out of the door faster, too. Likewise, fine dining establishments generally opt for mellow lighting to get you into a more relaxed mood, hoping that you’ll spend more time – and money – at the restaurant.