Just two weeks ago, I opened the menu at Brady O’Generic’s Pub & Grille in the Seattle airport, where I could read that a Caesar salad would set me back $12 and a burger would total $15. But the beer, wine, and cocktails? No prices listed there. It’s a pet peeve of mine—I know I’m about to be ripped off, but I’d like to know by how much—and, apparently, I share that grievance with one Robert Cameron of Pemberton, New Jersey.
He’s suing a TGI Fridays franchise for failing to list drink prices on its menu, which he says in 2012 caused him to order a $5 beer and $3 soda that were more expensive than he expected. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, a court has awarded his suit class-action status, allowing other customers who feel they were similarly duped by the franchise to join. Cameron claims had he seen the prices, he would have skipped the soda and ordered a less-expensive beer. His suit claims the restaurant deliberately withheld prices so that it could charge more, in violation of state law that requires prices be posted for most consumer goods. In court filings, the franchise says it’s listed drink prices on menus since August 2017. Cameron’s lawyer says not listing prices was a “carefully researched scheme” intended to charge customers higher prices.
In this St. Louis Magazine piece, dining editor George Mahe cites a few reasons restaurants might leave drink prices off menus, one of which is to Cameron’s point: “Soft drinks are a high-profit center for a restaurant… If a customer sees that a Coke costs $2.50, it may be a no sale.” He also mentions that prices for food or drink can fluctuate based on ingredients, but that seems like it would be more true of food than cocktails. I doubt the vodka and ginger beer market is so volatile that Brady O’Generic’s couldn’t list the price of my Moscow Mule. It was $13, by the way—with well vodka.