Get Ready To Pay More For Little Caesars Pizza

Like it or hate it, the Little Caesars $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza has controlled the cheap pizza market for years.  Even if you don’t like the taste, the fact is that because there’s a pizza for $5 available, it’s likely kept the cost down across the board, meaning virtually all pizza has been made cheaper because of the low price of the Hot-N-Ready.  Watch movies from the 1980’s and you’ll see that paying $15 per pizza was pretty common.  Even premium pizza, after over 20 years, likely tops out or comes in below that price these days, and you have to figure this comes back in many ways to the introduction of the Hot-N-Ready $5 pizza.

mb-201201pizzaMy wife and I were watching TV the other day, and a commercial for Little Caesars came on, and like basically every commercial that they are does, it touted the $5 pizza.  Only my wife noticed something.  Under the $5 price it said:


Uh-oh.  Since they’ve been offering this pizza at the low price for well over ten years, I think,, this seemed a little ominous.

Last night, we had some errands to run, so we decided to stop and grab one for dinner.  Their menu board had a big graphic with the $5 price, but also had the same ‘limited time only’ notation underneath.  So, I asked the cashier if the price was going up.

I think she wanted to dodge the question, but she finally answered that, yes, the price will be increasing soon.  She said that it will likely be going to $5.55 per pizza.  This is a price I’ve seen at many locations outside of the Metro Detroit area, where I’m assuming delivery charges and such are higher.  My totally wild guess is that those locations will move to a $5.99 price, so that all stores still stay in the $5-something range.

So, the proposed standard $5.55 price represents an 11% increase.  You’ve seen me complain many times about price increases on this blog, so you probably think this one bother me. But, the truth is that it really doesn’t.

Little Caesars has kept the $5 price for much longer than I ever thought possible when I first heard about it.  I often thought that, while the $5 price was a brilliant marketing move, it kept them backed into a wall because customers came to expect it.  Truth be told, they probably would have liked to have raised the price much sooner, but wanted to let go of the $5 pizza that they were associated with for as  long as possible.

Could that time be at hand soon?

If Not Pizza, Then Everything Else

But, that’s not all.  I noticed that they’ve already raised prices on other items.  Specifically their ‘Crazy Bread’.  Every once in a while we would add an order of crazy bread to our pizza order.  At $1.99 along with a $5 pizza, it still totaled up to $7.41 (including 6% sales tax), which wasn’t a bad price for a meal for all of us (plus a leftover lunch to take to work for me).

The price yesterday on the Crazy Bread: $2.98.  That’s a 50% price increase! On bread, butter, and cheese.  The 11% increase on pizza is no bother to me, but the 50% increase on crazy bread is crazy.  I thought $2.29 – $2.49 would have been more reasonable.  I know I’m quibbling over a buck, but it’s more the percentage increase that I can’t get past (and, no, we didn’t get the Crazy Bread yesterday).

So, if this information was correct, it looks like the price of pizza (and sides) will be nudging up this year (I would guess that other pizza places will follow suit).  Enjoy the $5 pizza while it lasts.  It’s been a great run!

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Have You Ever Tipped On A Carry-Out Order?

The answer for me was no, until recently.

For our anniversary, we didn’t do anything extravagant, which is pretty tough anyways when the day falls on the middle of the week, with a two year old and a two month old.  So, we used a coupon (always saving!) to get a carry-out special from a really good place for pizza, salad, and a loaf of bread.

We’ve dined at the restaurant and the food has been nothing short of spectacular.  We’d never gotten pizza, but we were sure it had to be good.

When I went, the service was so remarkable that I was flabbergasted.  First, the lady grabbed the pizza, brought it out, opened the box, and showed it to us to make sure it looked OK (it looked better than OK!).  Then, she took the loaf of bread that had been there, and called to the kitchen for a new one, to make sure we got a hot loaf.

I felt no qualms about giving a little bit extra when I signed for the check.  The food was delicious, the company even better, and we will definitely be getting that special (and going back for dinner) again!

What’s your take on tipping for carry-out?

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Something No Hostess Should Ever Say

We went on vacation a couple of weeks back.  We went to what had previously been a favorite destination of my wife and in-laws.  However, some of the things that happen were so astounding that I think they may have dropped that title.  I know that ‘The Village Cafe & Pub’ in Pentwater, MI will not be on my favorites list any time soon.

Below are some excerpts from a complaint letter that I filed after we got home (haven’t heard anything back, but I really don’t expect to since, as it turns out, they are Michigan State Spartan supporters, which means I probably used some too big of words….like ‘restaurant’….(just kidding):

Dear Owners of Village Cafe & Pub of Pentwater,

[At the recommendation of my in-laws, we all dined at your restaurant], a place that had been very accommodating to them in the past and had provided many good times.

I can only trust my in-laws that their experiences had been great in the past, but being my first time, I was not impressed in the least.

We parked next to the patio and walked past it on the way in.  Being a weekday night, things weren’t busy.  The hostess greeted us by saying “Can you wait five minutes?  I’m not sure if I can seat you.  Our servers might be too busy.”

I have dined at many restaurants in my lifetime, and have never, ever heard anything like this before.  I understand that you may have staffed lightly expecting fewer diners, but to be greeted with that is completely mind-boggling.  I know that this isn’t an isolated experience, as my sister-in-law had gone there the night before (with her boyfriend), and she had been told the same thing!

If you are getting more customers than you anticipate, you can word this politely to the customers (e.g. ‘We will be happy to seat you, but just so you know, our servers have more tables than usual, so we apololgize in advance if there are any delays, but hopefully you can enjoy the great view!’) or perhaps re-work the numbers on the number of customers you expect when determining how much help to have working.

[Later that week, on Friday], my wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law were in Pentwater and noticed that each of the outside tables had a rose or some sort of flower on it, where our table had nothing of the sort.

All told, it appeared to us that since we were customers on a less busy night, we were not treated as well as customers that dine on your busier weekend times.  I understand that the weekday customers might not be the moneymakers that keep you in business, but we are still customers that pay the same prices for the same menu items, and it is not unreasonable to expect the same service and positive dining experience as anybody else.  I worked in retail for a number of years, in an area where 95% of the years profits were made between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Even so, all of the customers that came through the doors for the rest of the year were entitled to and treated with the same level of respect and appreciation.  Based on what I saw last week, I think you might need to re-think your approach in making sure that *all* customers are given the full experience that you have to offer, regardless of what day or what time they come through the door.

Thank you.

So, dear readers, have you ever walked into a practically empty restaurant to be told that you might not be able to be served?  This story is so awful it is funny, so I had to share it.

What are some of your favorite restaurant ‘horror’ stories?

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Restaurants and Debit Cards

Maybe someone with experience or knowledge of the restaurant industry can help me understand a minor point on how debit cards are handled.

This arises from a situation on New Year’s Eve.  My wife and I went out to a restaurant to eat.  We’ve been there a time or two in the past, but not for a long time.

The meal was wonderful, and as we usually do when we eat out, we paid using my debit card.  As is also usual, I signed for the tip to be added on.

What I’ve noticed happens at most restaurants when I do this is that for the first day or two, the transaction shows up in my register as a pre-authorization and is usually for only the amount of the check.  This makes sense as I’m guessing that the restaurant swipes the card before bringing it back to the table where tip can be handled.  Typically, when the transaction clears after a day or two and appears as a Posted Transaction, the full amount including tip shows up.

Now, with our New Years eve experience, the pre-authorization amount included an additional 20%.  I didn’t tip 20% exactly, but I was able to calculate the difference by looking at the check and the total on my transaction register.

Is this a new thing where restaurants want to make sure you can afford to tip when you get back to the table?

Even though, once the transaction posted a couple of days later, everything was updated to what I had actually tipped, for some reason this bothered me.  What if I tipped less than 20%?  Is the restaurant assuming that I’m cheap for doing so?  What if I had chosen to leave the tip in cash instead, therefore any amount over my check amount was unjustified, and could have caused problems had I not been one to leave a cushion in my bank account?

Any thoughts on whether this is standard practice or what the basis is for a restaurant choosing to operate this way?  It’s not going to stop us from going back, but I’m curious as to whether it would be out of line to comment on this next time we pay.

Thanks in advance if you have any insight.

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