Welcome to the Worst Dining Evening of the Year

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 14 2014 8:19 AM

Welcome to the Worst Dining Evening of the Year

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Roses are red, restaurant prices are high ...

Photo by Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

Happy Valentine's Day! All across America this evening, people will go out to dinner with their partner and they'll be making a huge mistake.

Valentine's Day prix fixe dinners have basically all the problems of Restaurant Week. The restaurant fills up. But it knows it isn't filled up with tastemakers it needs to impress to build a reputation. And it isn't filled up with regulars who it needs to please to maintain its day-to-day business. It's filled with one-off people who are out because of the holiday, and it's time to squeeze them for all that they're worth.

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But while on Restaurant Week you'll at least get a pseudo-discount on your meal, on Valentine's Day you'll be paying inflated prices.

Now there's nothing wrong with increasing prices when demand is high. The restaurants aren't doing anything bad here. It's just that it's not smart for you to stumble right into it. Paying a premium for a subpar dining experience is silly. If you're smart, you'll opt for a nice quiet evening at home tonight (or get together with friends!) and then go out to a nice dinner with your spouse on Wednesday.

All that said, while I normally try to take my own advice I'm actually a terribly sentimental person and made a reservation to go out with my wife to a restaurant we like in the neighborhood. We'll be paying approximately twice what we would pay any other evening for a restricted choice of menu options. Don't be like us. That's dumb. Make smart decisions.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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