Are desserts in decline?

I hope so. Todd Kliman writes:

The problem is that restaurateurs are unwilling to charge more than $30 an entrée. That number has held steady for years, the Maginot Line of the industry. Forced to look elsewhere, they’ve sought to recoup their escalating expenses by aggressively targeting the start of the meal, upping the prices of appetizers and “snacks,” cocktails, and glasses of wine. At some places, you’ll pay nearly as much for a six-ounce pour of Chardonnay as you would for a plate of chicken.

The question is why so many restaurateurs have opted not to jack up the prices of dessert, too.

“It’s just not worth it,” a successful owner told me, noting that the prices of dairy have gone up by as much as 150 percent in little more than a year. High-fat butter, a necessity for gourmet baking, sells for more than $4 a pound, double what it was in the summer of 2013. “A cocktail brings in twice as much money as a dessert, and it doesn’t hold up a table at the end of the meal. You have to turn the tables.”

And the higher urban rents rise, the more tightly space is squeezed and restaurants need open tables, and thus the more restaurant desserts will decline and indeed should decline (“the rent is too damn high and where is my dessert!?” could be the new motto). I would be happy enough if all desserts were simply dark chocolate ice cream or gelato, consumed rapidly and perhaps at a different venue altogether.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.

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