FOOD CULTURE: Revolt of the Restaurateur
“Due to outrageous fees, there is a $10 minimum on all credit/debit card transactions,” reads a sign on the window at Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok in Portland. “Thanks for understanding!” Credit card and reservation fees, exploding real estate prices, the rising cost of beef—they’ve all put the squeeze on restaurateurs and their profits. And restaurateurs are fighting back, dropping credit cards and their surcharges altogether à la Frankies 457 in NYC, requiring parties to reserve with credit cards, and switching over to low-fee reservation systems (as Mike Isabella recently promoted). Innovator Grant Achatz has bypassed reservation systems completely at Next, in favor of his ticketing system that charges diners upfront for their meals, with no refunds allowed. Whether these cost-cutting moves are good for diners is yet to be seen, but as long as the banks are still winning, scrappy restaurateurs will find ways to preserve and protect their bottom lines.