Those Michelin Stars Translate as Dollar Signs

Here is my latest New York Times column, on the economics of fine dining and The Society for Quantitative Gastronomy.  It is fitting that I am now in Lyon.  Excerpt:

Receiving a Michelin star increases prices in a Parisian restaurant
by 20 percent, controlling for measures of quality, décor and location.
Michelin-starred restaurants in fancy hotels, or in areas with other
Michelin-starred restaurants, also have higher prices, again adjusting
for quality. Diners are paying more to eat in fine or prestigious
surroundings, whether or not the food is better. One gastronomy expert,
speaking in Le Nouvel Observateur, noted, “Gaining a Michelin star
ensures that your banker will be kind to you.”

For those who hold
the food as their main concern, the researchers offer a way forward.
Dr. Verardi and Dr. Gergaud have built an index for overpriced and
underpriced restaurants, relative to their food. They use the Zagat
Survey to Parisian restaurants – whose popularity rankings are
generated by diners’ reports, not critics – to provide an independent
measure of customer satisfaction, which is then compared with price.

There is also a new Journal of Wine Economics, see the column for more information.  Here is Dubner, on the same.


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