The Business of Rare: Why Restaurants Love Investing in Limited Quantity Items
Though restaurant trends come and go, one constant guests can rely on when dining out is that the appeal of vintage spirits and authentic ingredients is far more exciting than a current flash in the pan.
Or in the case of today’s preferred food phrases, a dramatic salt drop.
According to research conducted by the National Restaurant Association, two-thirds of consumers find they can’t replicate their favorite restaurant foods at home. And with the association projecting industry sales to hit an estimated $863 billion this year, both consumers and operators are finding meaningful connections through food are now made in public more so than ever before.
In Chicago, beverage director Kevin Beary’s rare rum selections at Three Dots and a Dash and The Bamboo Room are major draws for those intrigued by a tiki-bar atmosphere. However, for those who might balk at high price tags when perusing a menu, Beary explains there’s a hidden benefit for guests who want to celebrate with something unique.
“The more expensive the item is for the bar to purchase, the less of a margin we will add,” explains Beary. “For example, a $20 bottle of rum will be priced at a 20% cost (an 80% margin) whereas a $300 bottle of rum will be priced at a 40% cost (a 60% margin).”
Part of the rationale in doing so is to put limited-quantity items within reach for guests. While being able to procure and showcase rare bottles on the back shelf might score points within the industry, the experiential aspect of opening one for guests to share with one another is the reason bars are in business.
Though there aren’t any uniform rules when it comes to enjoying high-priced items, there are some attributes one must consider when seriously deciding to place your order. “I think that the guest should have a prerequisite experience before ordering a rare or vintage spirit,” Beary says.