Monday, November 21, 2011
Rant: Outraged By Sake Prices At Restaurants
Sake prices at restaurants can be equally as appalling. I have seen a 300ml bottle, which retails for $8, sold for $32 at a local Japanese restaurant. That is a four times markup from retail, and we all know that the restaurant is paying wholesale for it, so the true markup is even higher. What possible justification exists for such a drastic markup? I have seen plenty of restaurants where the sake markup is three times the retail. And it is often the least expensive sakes that have the greatest markup. That seems to make such little sense.
Interestingly, you will often see wine writers advise you to choose the less common wines on a restaurant wine list, as they can often be good deals. As such wines are not popular, or as well known, the restaurant may not mark them up as high, in order to get more people to take a chance on them. That makes logical sense, and can help people broaden their wine horizons. So why don't these restaurants apply the same logic to sake?
Sake is still a very niche beverage, unfamiliar to many, and needs much more promotion. The average consumer knows very little about sake, and what they do know may even be incorrect. So, they are much less likely to order it at a restaurant, especially if it is expensive. If they are going to try something new, they are far more likely to do so if they are offered an apparent bargain. So, restaurants should have a much lower markup on their less expensive sakes, in order to entice people to take a chance, to try to garner new sake drinkers. And despite the lower price, the increased amount of sales should provide even more profit than far fewer sales at a higher price.
Existing sake lovers will often know the retail prices of the sakes on a restaurant list. They are very unlikely to order a sake where the price is outrageously overpriced, and such prices will give those sake lovers a more negative view of the restaurant. If the sakes were more reasonably priced, then sake lovers would be more conducive to ordering a bottle or two. They would also be more likely to refer their friends and others to a restaurant with a more reasonably priced sake list.
So there are multiple reasons why restaurants should have a more reasonable markup for sake, to encourage new sake drinkers as well as to please existing sake lovers. So will any restaurant actually listen? Is any restaurant willing to step forward and agree to lower their sake prices? If you are willing to do so, please tell me and I will help spread the word.