OPINION: A good restaurant meal is much more than a $5 burger with fries

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Opinion

Getting a burger in your hands in five minutes for under $5 has become the norm.

It is becoming easier than ever to quickly order from fast-food restaurants on apps and the prices for quick meals, though rising, stay cheap.

But cheap and easy doesn’t make it better.

We have become conditioned to food prices that are unreasonable for the average restaurant to sustain. Fast food restaurants work for years to streamline their services and recipes so that their products seem more appealing on the outside to customers. Usually, these streamlining techniques involve using pre-made, cheap, frozen ingredients, and underpaying large staffs.

This technique harms small restaurants that do not have the funds nor time to do the same.

When customers get used to speedy service provided by mass-produced meals and an abundance of minimum wage workers, they expect the same from all restaurants. But this isn’t possible.

Many restaurant owners see the business as their lives. It is not easy to run a restaurant and takes up most of their time and money. To make any sort of profit, restaurants need to continue to sell food and drinks.

As a customer, these dishes and drinks may seem expensive. But you are paying for your experience, not just your food.

The cost of rent, in Toronto in particular, is rising every year. Restaurateurs pay big time to have a nice venue for you to eat in.

Ingredients and equipment are other high costs. Some ingredients can be extremely expensive, especially when ordering them fresh. Stand mixers, industrial fridges, and slicers can run for thousands of dollars. A large commercial oven alone can run a restaurant up to and over $5,000 in costs to maintain.

Beyond the costs, restaurant owners and staff work tirelessly to make sure you have a good time.

Restaurants hire trained and experienced waitstaff, chefs, sommeliers, and bartenders. It takes hours of training and dedication to become respected in this field, and the price you pay often reflects the experience of the staff behind it.

Wine pairings and dishes are meticulously planned and prepared, all going towards the price you pay.

Often when going to higher-end restaurants, tasting menus are popular. Tasting menus can consist of multiple courses, from five to 10 to even more courses. When tiny plates are seen online, it’s easy to jump to conclusions about the price of that dish.

But usually, the price includes multiple dishes, made of very expensive ingredients. These tasting menus are designed for you to leave pleasantly full. Restaurants like these never want you to leave hungry, or feeling so full you feel sick.

Fast food restaurants have conditioned us to want to eat the largest portion of food for the smallest price. This may seem appealing to our bank accounts but can make our bodies feel sick and encourage dangerous overeating habits.

So next time you think your meal is pricey, think of how it got to you. Spending more money to support smaller restaurants is better than throwing away $5 for a burger.