Another perspective from Marcus Jernmark (Habitue), his belief is that the price should be higher still for what you’re getting. $425-450 to provide what he thinks are appropriate pay, benefits, and flexibility. https://www.instagram.com/stories/marcus.jernmark/2843837521225826659/
There are only a handful of $425-ish/person tasting menu I can think of off the top of my head in the US…Singlethread, Chef’s Table at Brookyln Fare, Alinea, Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, and Atelier Crenn? But it’s difficult for Manzke to charge that much right off the bat without the accolades and opulence that others offer.
$425+ as the standard for a restaurant like Manzke is ludicrous and would serve to make fine dining even more inaccessible for the vast majority of people.
Here’s the Instgram Story from Marcus Jernmark:
Lots to unpack here. First thing that comes to mind–is he now saying he might not be opening Habitué in Los Angeles after all?
An in-depth look into the economics of fine dining tasting menu restaurants would be fascinating (@matthewkang ?).
At the suggested $425-450+ price point, what does Chef Jernmark envision:
- The servers making?
- Various BOH positions making?
- His take home pay (is he salaried? equity/profit share? both?)
- Number of covers required per night to meet these goals?
That’s the creep who’s reportedly opening a “referral-only” restaurant in Beverly Hills. On the one hand he wants to charge $450 for rare, luxury-product tasting menus, on the other he wants his dishwasher to make as much money as he does?
In the smallest text which is almost impossible to read, he holds up the example for high end Japanese restaurants that charge in that price range with really low numbers of seats because enough people have been convinced it’s worth it. Keep in mind Frantzen where he was at before is very much in that mold of luxury ingredient tasting menus. Obviously not many here are likely to be a fan of the referral only concept (including me). My guess is he’s got a wealthy backer that is paying the salary for him and a small team to make dinners for groups of guests whenever they want and the rest of the time they’re trying to pull in other groups where the per diner cost is probably even more than $450/ea.
From what I can see on their instagram, it’s all done at a private residence. Transitioning to a restaurant would involve much higher startup costs and ongoing fixed costs from renovations and commercial rent. Then you’d need to staff up significantly more. If you’re coming from Europe I imagine you have some expectations of acceptable benefits that are not typical in the US restaurant industry… uhhh like robust health care benefits and larger amounts of paid time off that are defaults for all people who work. All that would seem to require a much more expensive cost structure.
they are. what it’ll look like when it’s all said and done might be different than what we envision a regular restaurant. What he’s talking about is really relevant for how they are trying to set up Habitue. RIght now they are cooking out of a more intimate space.
I have also asked the same thing - why is everyone okay with the small staff/small kitchen restaurant setups for high end omakase restaurants at $300++? But when a western tasting menu crosses that threshold (or in this case $260) everyone is up in a roar? The costs for a high end sushi spot must be a fraction of what western fine dining is doing.
Assuming ingredient costs are similar or even say sushi spots are slightly higher (Doubtful) - they have smaller kitchen set ups and WAY less staff. Labor is the majority of a markup of fine dining restaurants or any business really.
Go to Ginza a FTC hot spot - 3 sushi chefs, 1-2 servers. That’s the extent. There’s dishwashers in the back. $400+. 2 turns a night, 9-10 people a turn.
At Manzke - the kitchen has at least 8 people working in there. There’s the GM, at least one somm, 3 captains, 4-6 other servers. $260 in June. I’ve been there 3 times now and it’s been basically one turn. Roughly 28-30 guests a night.
I think high end omakase spots are some of the least “worth” the money restaurants and its acceptance has a lot to do with how we romanticize japanese expertise. The biggest plus about turning vegetarian is my friends have stopped recommending we go to sushi restaurants for wine dinners.
Employees at fine dining restaurants in Europe make a comfortable living with good benefits. Marcus asks the right question - why can’t we have the same here? What will it take to make sure we have the same here?
What they want to do is ambitious for their employees. They’ve taken cues from a couple other referral only dining experiences that pay their staff very well. I’m talking prep cooks salaried and making 50/hr with benefits.
I’ve been teasing in my mind the idea of opening a restaurant or partnering with a potential restaurant opening and the financial complexities of wanting to make sure the staff is paid well and happy and making money is a tough one!
Everyone minus bringyourbrunch
Isn’t that only if you’re actually hired and not one of many stages?
Ah, so “referral-only” is how rich people say “underground.”
Yes. But stages here don’t make much of anything either.
Oh I know
I think you understand the general sentiment of my statement.
If the food is worth it, I wouldn’t have a problem paying $300 for a western tasting menu at all. Have done it in the past and will continue to do it, as long as the food is worth it. Conversely, there are high end Omakase spots that I think are overpriced at $300 or $400. For example, morihoro is not worth the cost imo.
But $300 is a different ballgame than what jernmark’s suggesting: $450. There are very few places in LA (Omakase or western tasting menu) that warrant that price point. I mean, he’s actually suggesting Manzke should increase their prices by almost 75%. Maybe he’s right, but that just seems way off to me.
Think he’s saying $450 is what it should cost for everyone involved to earn a living wage. But $450 is probably not viable from a business standpoint at this stage.
So therein lies the problem.
but did @chrishei get the baguette too?
A restaurant can judge whether the price is too high or too low based on whether they’re full every night and if so how fast the reservations go after they’re released on Tock or whatever.
thanks for the tip. yeah I generally agree here with Marcus except for the fact that if and when you price things above $450-500 then you’re really making it for the ultra rich and 1%. there has to be some balance between offering an upscale experience to anyone who wants to aspire to those kinds of meals, and taking care of your employees/stakeholders. we are looking into similar kinds of coverage.
I think Marcus ignores the realities of healthcare and social benefits in the US. It’s easy to say what should be provided when our system is designed to keep that out of reach for most.
He’s probably surrounded by enough money that it doesn’t seem like a big deal to charge that much.
I’d be fine if I were priced out of meals like that anyway. I’m nowhere near rich or well off, just a stupid millennial who doesn’t care about their future