Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tea for Two, or $2.59 or $2.89 or...

My mom and I eat out a lot.  Probably more than we should.  Ok, I know it's more than we should, but that's what we do. We work together, so are always together at lunchtime.  Since my dad is retired, he's often with us.  Several months ago, we started noticing the outrageous amount of money we were being charged for iced tea.  If you ever pay attention, you'll notice that the price of tea, cokes, etc. are almost NEVER listed on the menu.  Have you ever really looked for the price of tea on your bill?  Probably not.  I think that's what they're banking on.  But, if you start paying attention, like we did, you'll be shocked to learn how badly you are being blatantly ripped off on a simple, inexpensive glass of tea.  

I began keeping a list of tea prices at various restaurants. My reason for doing so was simple:  I wanted to see what people are charging for the world's simplest drink then calculate what it actually costs to make it.  I wanted to expose the biggest con in the restaurant business.  So, lucky reader, here you go...

First, here's the list of prices I collected:

  • Fatz Café                  $ 2.40
  • DiPrato's                   $ 1.50  *
  • Longhorn                 $ 2.49
  • Blue Marlin               $1.95  *
  • Real Mexico             $ 1.99  *
  • Red Robin                $ 2.59
  • Lizard's Thicket      $ 1.49  *
  • Just Us Café            $0.95  *
  • Brunches                 $ 1.50  *
  • Applebee's               $  2.49
  • Tiffany's                    $ 1.69  *
  • Smashburger           $ 1.89
  • The Kingsman         $ 1.94
  • Grecian Gardens    $ 1.79
  • Chili's                      $ 2.39
  • Za's                          $ 1.60 *?*  
 The asterisks denote locally owned restaurants.  I'm not sure about Za's...chain or local?  I find it interesting that the chains are insanely higher than the locals.  You'd think that if anyone has to jack up a price to cover costs or increase a profit margin, it would be a local business rather than a chain, right? However, the locals are overwhelmingly less expensive.

But, here's the real question.  How much does it actually COST 
to make a glass of tea?  Well, I'm gonna tell ya.  

I bought a gallon of Deer Park water for $1.00, 5 lbs of Dixie Crystals sugar for $4.59 and Luzianne family size tea bags (24 ct) for $2.49.  Then, I made some tea and did some math.  I won't take you through all my calculations (did you know a bag of sugar lists serving size in teaspoons? Try converting all those teaspoons into a 5 lb bag!)  But, here's the skinny:  an 8 oz glass of tea costs $0.11 to make. In English, that ELEVEN CENTSDid you hear me?  ELEVEN FRIGGIN' CENTS
And, keep in mind, this is regular old consumer price.  I'm not able to buy from a food service wholesaler, like a restaurant, so their cost is probably even less.

>> I will admit I am no ace mathematician, so if I'm off a bit, you still get my point.   

Now, don't think I'm naive.  I realize restaurants, like any business are in business to make money.  I'm all for people making money, but let's make an honest buck, huh? At Red Robin, that's like, 2354% markup.  Am I the only one who thinks this is outrageous? I bet not.

So, here's what this all has gotten me thinking.  We're here in South Carolina.  The capital of sweet tea. Some think we actually invented it. Wonder what would happen if all of a sudden, we Southerners QUIT ordering tea?  Probably the restaurant people wouldn't notice at first.  But how long would it take before they did? Would the lack of their highway tea robbery begin to show on their books? What if we all showed up with a thermos of tea in our pocketbooks and just ordered a glass of ice?  How long would it take them to realize that we all had wised up to their tea scam?

I would LOVE to hear y'all's thoughts on this.  C'mon, tell me what you think.  BTW, Uno in Lexington includes tea in their lunches.  Wow!  What a novel concept...they actually give us an eleven cent drink to show us that they truly want our business.  And, as for me, mom and dad, they get our business pretty often.  The free tea has a lot to do with it, of course, but they have a pretty doggone good lunch menu too!  



  1. remember, restaurants have costs involved in buying the containers for the sugar, pots to make the tea, storage of tea, refrigeration of tea, water is not free even for the restaurant owners, paying an employee to make the tea, refills and the cups, lids and straws but charging over @1.99 for tea is too much.

  2. I realize that, but having water, refrigeration, cups, employees in a restaurant is what's known as the Cost of Doing Business. All of those things must be in place for a restaurant to be a restaurant.

  3. Love it when places like Long Horn does not put prices on menu - now that is a blind sided punch when you get charged $2.59 for Tea



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