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What Is Restaurant Psychology (And How Successful Restaurants Use It) | Institute of Culinary Education

Visits from the innovators at Chipotle and Sixpoint Brewery and field trips to Daniel and Blue Smoke have been a few of the highlights. The end result is information and networking overload. While that might sound intimidating, it’s actually the intellectual equivalent of stuffing yourself on Thanksgiving: though you can barely fit another bite, you keep on eating — or in this case, learning — because it’s that good.

While we’ve covered a wide range of subjects, my favorite thus far has been restaurant psychology. I’ve always been fascinated by human psychology — though honestly, who isn’t? Understanding how it transforms the dining experience, however, is particularly eye opening. Think you chose that filet mignon of your own free will? Think again. From interior design to menu item placement, successful restaurants use psychology to influence customers’ perceptions and decisions.

Strategic Pricing

Two other tricks menu designers employ are boxing and bolding. These two techniques are designed to draw your eye to certain menu items — typically, the most expensive dish on the menu. This can serve two purposes. First, you’ll notice and hopefully order the very expensive $42 Kobe beef.

However, if you’re watching your budget, that $25 pasta dish will seem like a great deal in comparison. Obviously, the cost of ingredients for these two menu items is very different, and they are priced accordingly. But by viewing the expensive item first, you’re more likely to feel excited about your decision, no matter which dish you choose. (For a detailed look at menu layout and strategic pricing, click here.)

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What Is Restaurant Psychology (And How Successful Restaurants Use It) | Institute of Culinary Education.

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