Burger Prices

Hawki97

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First off, I'm a typical HROTerian so price means nothing to me - but by god I still notice. Hopped on the bike this weekend and rode through a few counties. Some places were gouging for a burger - more specifically I saw that Solon Big Grove wanted $14 for a single burger and this place Downtown IC (Burger Haul) was $16. In contrast, Baxas out in Sutliff wanted $5.25 for a single (or $8 for a Baxa 2/3rd lb burger). Rode to Gussy's in Lone Tree and their burger was $8 as well. If food prices are so inflated, how do these small towns keep their prices so low?
 

bagdropper

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It's all in "what can I sell and for how much that keeps the lights on and hopefully makes money too" no matter the location. There's more into that of course such as who are my most likely potential customers will be (therefore what are they willing to pay)...

Downtown IC ain't cheap. A large newer building that brews it's own beer in downtown Solon can't be cheap. Whereas an older building in Lone Tree or a small tavern type building along the Cedar in darn near The Middle of Nowhere probably costs a lot less.
 
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NoleATL

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In contrast, Baxas out in Sutliff wanted $5.25 for a single (or $8 for a Baxa 2/3rd lb burger).
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noleclone2

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They are both charging what their markets will allow. If it is like Tallahassee, restaurants are full despite higher menu prices and some folks are definitely edging up prices to juice more profit in addition to the rising costs.
 

Jerome Silberman

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The small town places probably aren't making anything on the food, and they're paying less for a lower quality product. It has a lot to do with the smaller places being more dependent on a a core group of customers that are typically more "price conscious" than their more urban counterparts.
 

Hawki97

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It's all in "what can I sell and for how much that keeps the lights on and hopefully makes money too" no matter the location. There's more into that of course such as who are my most likely potential customers will be (therefore what are they willing to pay)...

Downtown IC ain't cheap. A large newer building that brews it's own beer in downtown Solon can't be cheap. Whereas an older building in Lone Tree or a small tavern type building along the Cedar in darn near The Middle of Nowhere probably costs a lot less.

Oh yeah, overhead definitely comes into play. Hell, half those places in the middle of nowhere are probably owned by the people running the place - and that's one hell of an expense to not have to cover! I'm just surprised the difference is as much as 3x the amount (Baxa single cheeseburger vs. Downtown IC single cheeseburger). Can't go wrong with a small town burger - man I love those things.
 

bhawk24bob

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imo too many 'restaurant groups' or investors have watched too many celebrity chefs tell them that their cost should be 3x the price of the food. but either way, they'll charge what the market allows. A $16 burger in iowa city is something you can only charge people so many times before it becomes the first thing they cut out of a budget
 

SoDakHawk

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The small town places probably aren't making anything on the food, and they're paying less for a lower quality product. It has a lot to do with the smaller places being more dependent on a a core group of customers that are typically more "price conscious" than their more urban counterparts.
Complete opposite of my experience over the years (the lower quality part). The best places are the mom & pop small town restaurants that don't have all the amenities, they're not fancy, basically a no frills/hole in the wall type restaurant but they have dang good food and don't skimp on the portion sizes. It's why people travel from all around to make a stop at these places, or be sure to stop there when they happen to be traveling through.
 

SoDakHawk

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imo too many 'restaurant groups' or investors have watched too many celebrity chefs tell them that their cost should be 3x the price of the food. but either way, they'll charge what the market allows. A $16 burger in iowa city is something you can only charge people so many times before it becomes the first thing they cut out of a budget
We don't go out to eat as a family anymore. We like cooking/grilling at home. We'll drop at least $60-75 eating at a restaurant anymore and as we're driving home the inevitable "was that even worth it" discussion comes up. More often than not the answer is "no". So when we're thinking about going out to eat we recall those conversations and instead think of something different to grill up or make. New recipe time and don't worry about the cost of ingredients because it is still cheaper than eating out.
 

Hawki97

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Complete opposite of my experience over the years (the lower quality part). The best places are the mom & pop small town restaurants that don't have all the amenities, they're not fancy, basically a no frills/hole in the wall type restaurant but they have dang good food and don't skimp on the portion sizes. It's why people travel from all around to make a stop at these places, or be sure to stop there when they happen to be traveling through.

For the most part, this is my opinion too. I like a burger on a buttered white bun, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion. That's it. Whether it comes from George's in IC or BFE, Iowa...they're the best.

Don't get me wrong, I'll eat the ones with two paragraph descriptions about the bread they use - but a simple burger is my #1 choice all day long.
 
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Derekd3408

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First off, I'm a typical HROTerian so price means nothing to me - but by god I still notice. Hopped on the bike this weekend and rode through a few counties. Some places were gouging for a burger - more specifically I saw that Solon Big Grove wanted $14 for a single burger and this place Downtown IC (Burger Haul) was $16. In contrast, Baxas out in Sutliff wanted $5.25 for a single (or $8 for a Baxa 2/3rd lb burger). Rode to Gussy's in Lone Tree and their burger was $8 as well. If food prices are so inflated, how do these small towns keep their prices so low?
Smaller towns have much lower overhead and thus can charge less. That and people in a town of 2000 aren't paying $16 for a burger they can cook at home.
 

Hawki97

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Smaller towns have much lower overhead and thus can charge less. That and people in a town of 2000 aren't paying $16 for a burger they can cook at home.

Definitely. As I mentioned above...it's the 3x difference that is pretty surprising. For the longest time the difference was probably 2x but the "fancy" places have shot through the roof while the small town joints have stayed relatively the same. Likely just a combination of the simplicity of a small town burger and their minimal overhead vs. the "food network inspired" next big thing burger and mega overhead that's causing the divide. Doesn't seem sustainable.
 
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Hendy hawk

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For the most part, this is my opinion too. I like a burger on a buttered white bun, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion. That's it. Whether it comes from George's in IC or BFE, Iowa...they're the best.

Don't get me wrong, I'll eat the ones with two paragraph descriptions about the bread they use - but a simple burger is my #1 choice all day long.
This. I really don't want or need a triple stacked burger to eat. Bigger is not better for any of us.
I try to just order a regular cheese or mushroom swiss burger and small fries.
 
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hawkssox1

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Oh yeah, overhead definitely comes into play. Hell, half those places in the middle of nowhere are probably owned by the people running the place - and that's one hell of an expense to not have to cover! I'm just surprised the difference is as much as 3x the amount (Baxa single cheeseburger vs. Downtown IC single cheeseburger). Can't go wrong with a small town burger - man I love those things.
I get to Baxas at least once a month my go to is fried Catfish.
 

bhawk24bob

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We don't go out to eat as a family anymore. We like cooking/grilling at home. We'll drop at least $60-75 eating at a restaurant anymore and as we're driving home the inevitable "was that even worth it" discussion comes up. More often than not the answer is "no". So when we're thinking about going out to eat we recall those conversations and instead think of something different to grill up or make. New recipe time and don't worry about the cost of ingredients because it is still cheaper than eating out.

Yep, we're the same way now. Bar food is out of the question because you're either getting ripped off on price or the price is reasonable and you're getting ripped off on quality. I'm not sure if you can quantify it or offer anything besides anecdotal references but when food comes out now, it certainly seems like nobody in a kitchen wants to be in that kitchen preparing it. I don't blame them, but hopefully this gets us back to restaurants where a family is running the kitchen as opposed to MBA's and 'restaurant groups' whose only concern is the bottom line before that restaurant fails and they can con investors into opening another one that'll eventually fail
 

Hawki97

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I get to Baxas at least once a month my go to is fried Catfish.

I'm there a couple times a month in the summer. It's about a 50 mile bike ride from IC and some great gravel roads. Plus, these views and a burger and fries under $10? Sign me up.

historical-sutliff-bridge-over-cedar-river-near-lisbon-solon-iowa-sunset-167800807.jpg
 

goldmom

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They are both charging what their markets will allow. If it is like Tallahassee, restaurants are full despite higher menu prices and some folks are definitely edging up prices to juice more profit in addition to the rising costs.
I saw burger prices at a Tally restaurant over Spring Game weekend at $14.99. Must have been an awesome burger.
 

goldmom

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If we support an average wage of $15/hr and up then the days of a really decent 8.99 burger are history. Plus all the attendant costs associated with cattle feed, butchering, transportation, what the delivery driver is paid...we either get used to it or we eat at home more, right?
 

Jerome Silberman

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Complete opposite of my experience over the years (the lower quality part). The best places are the mom & pop small town restaurants that don't have all the amenities, they're not fancy, basically a no frills/hole in the wall type restaurant but they have dang good food and don't skimp on the portion sizes. It's why people travel from all around to make a stop at these places, or be sure to stop there when they happen to be traveling through.

My experience comes from the other side of the counter, and knowing what happens out of sight of the customer.

Due to lower volume and a smaller regular client base, margins tend to be tighter. Which leads to making choices that larger area establishments don't have to worry about.

None of that means it's not enjoyable or of good quality, but it is largely the reality of the buisness.
 
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Jerome Silberman

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If we support an average wage of $15/hr and up then the days of a really decent 8.99 burger are history. Plus all the attendant costs associated with cattle feed, butchering, transportation, what the delivery driver is paid...we either get used to it or we eat at home more, right?
It's already history. Any place charging so little is likely using it as a loss leader to sell more bottles of beer.
 
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Hamburg Inn #2 has no burgers priced over $12.99 and that comes with two side dishes as well. I still think they're the best in town, hands down. Sorry Big Grove.
 
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GOHOX69

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Doubtful. Depending on the quality of the ingredients, this is market price. Labor and shipping prices are not going to go down.
We shall see. The pain point is rising. Restaurants in the Corridor are already shutting shop. Red Vespa was latest.
 

Jerome Silberman

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We shall see. The pain point is rising. Restaurants in the Corridor are already shutting shop. Red Vespa was latest.
That's just the way the restaurant business works.

I'm not saying there isn't outside pressures causing it, I'm saying that no matter how many close prices are not going to drop to what the average Iowan desires them to be. It's just not realistic for restraunts to be able to deliver the product the public wants at a reasonable price, while paying a fair wage to achieve those goals.

Throw in the thankless work environment, and there's little reason to believe things are going to get better for the average customer/restaurant. The places that cater to a less-frugal market(the $16 burger spot) are exactly the kind of places that will be able to attract and hire the talent needed to keep the place running.
 
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Jcchawk

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We shall see. The pain point is rising. Restaurants in the Corridor are already shutting shop. Red Vespa was latest.
Restaurants come and go. Bluebird just opened in Solon. It will thrive.
 

torbee

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Oh yeah, overhead definitely comes into play. Hell, half those places in the middle of nowhere are probably owned by the people running the place - and that's one hell of an expense to not have to cover! I'm just surprised the difference is as much as 3x the amount (Baxa single cheeseburger vs. Downtown IC single cheeseburger). Can't go wrong with a small town burger - man I love those things.
Best cheeseburger in Iowa City is still $3.75.

Everywhere else is price gouging for inferior food.

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