In a moment when restaurants are debuting with upwards of $100 per person menus and raising prices, it’s a shock to the system to see a restaurant go in the opposite direction and actually lower prices. But that’s exactly what Bar Tartine did, as of yesterday, August 24, lowering its prix fixe menu from $78 per person to $58. The wine pairing cost has gone down, too, from $46 to $32.
In an Instagram post, chef/owners Nick Balla and Cortney Burns wrote, “Starting today, our Friends & Family menu will be a $58/seat, 3-course offering. We’re forever experimenting and reinventing our style, but we never want to lose sight of how we began — as a neighborhood restaurant.”
According to Balla, the decision was multi-pronged. First, Balla and Burns want Bar Tartine to be less of a destination, and more a neighborhood spot. “Seventy-eight was great, and it was a really generous experience for 78, but it also maybe seems more like a destination dining experience,” Balla told Eater. “We want the 58 menu to be both — really interesting, delicious, and satiating as a destination, but also an everyday or every month option.”
At $58, they were able to achieve both that and provide a living wage for staff. “For that price we can do all that stuff and also feed people well and with good ingredients and be generous. We call it the ‘Friends & Family’ menu because we want people to have an experience like they’re eating at our house, and we’ll keep refilling food if they’re not full,” he explained.
Balla and Burns were able to shave $20 off the price by tweaking some parts of the experience. For example, while before diners received five small desserts, now it will be three medium-sized desserts, which calls for fewer ingredients. Diners will receive no less food than before, but there is one less course.
At that price, they believe more people will order the tasting menu instead of a la carte, which ultimately keeps check averages higher. And by cutting a course, the experience is a little shorter — which is feedback they’ve been hearing people want — enabling the restaurant to do a higher volume of covers.
“We don’t want to be ultra high volume, but we want to do a little more volume and be able to get people in and out a little faster, so it was a problem solving exercise between our management team,” he said. “It works business-wise, so we're really excited about it.”