Dining out has become a rich person’s sport

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The Future. While many sectors of the economy have recovered from the pandemic, most sit-in restaurants haven’t — and the ones that have are too expensive for most people to patronize. If trends continue, dining out may become a flashy spectacle consumed only by elites.

Priced out to takeout
Various factors have made sit-in dining unaffordable for most of us.

  • Restaurants are forced to charge more — 24% more (on average) since 2020 — because rent and ingredients cost more while people eat out less often.
  • But high-end restaurants have inflated prices far beyond the average rate and haven’t been punished because the few who can afford the experience have too much money to care.
  • Meanwhile, affordable restaurants are suffering more closures than usual in recent years, leaving would-be diners with fewer options.

Demand for fancy restaurants seems fairly inelastic, at least for the most viral and prestigious establishments. Eating at such places will only get less affordable so long as the lucky few treat those meals like luxuries.

For the rest of us, there are always burritos.

Luke Perrotta


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