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DeviantAnthro t1_je7y24t wrote

It's from an article that came out in Newsweek, December, 2022

Carrie Bell, general manager at The Mill on MacArthur, told Newsweek: "Around a year ago the cost for tater tots per case inflated from around $25 a case to almost $75 a case. Our printed menu then had them listed for $4.50 for 2 dozen tots plus 4oz. dipping sauce. Unfortunately, this price increase was untenable for us as well as our customers, and we were forced to stop carrying them.

When reprinting our menus this October we debated leaving the tots or removing them, due to product cost volatility. As a joke to ourselves we decided to leave them, but at market price. It has sparked a lot of good conversations between guests and staff, a small teaching moment about food costs and the continued struggles in the supply chain."

While the ongoing joke on the price of tater tots remains a point of interest for visitors and staff, Bell confirmed that tater tots currently cost $4.50."

Edit: the interview is from Newsweek, the image is from Reddit


fluufhead t1_je9jifa wrote

A case of tots is 30 pounds (1,440 tots) so their food cost per serving went up 83 cents, according to my back-of-the-napkin calculation based on this wholesale page


khuldrim t1_je9l67c wrote

Restaurants are a tiny margin business.


Farmerjoerva t1_jea4d9r wrote

Then you have to add in 20% of the cost for labor. Then you have to add in cost of the oil to fry them. Then you have to ask in the cost of the dipping sauce. Then you have to add in the paper or in containers that they go in which is easily going to make that another dollar 20 and making the cost probably around two dollars


fluufhead t1_jeajwe8 wrote

What I calc'ed was the change in food cost/serving


Farmerjoerva t1_jeamswd wrote

That’s how you get actual food cost by adding in all those items.


fluufhead t1_jeankes wrote

Just missing the base food cost...

Regardless, I don't think anyone is under a false impression that tots are a significant profit driver for restaurants.


dreww4546 t1_je7vdg5 wrote

Are tater tot prices skyrocketing that much? Should I redirect my investments into taters?


PopBopMopCop t1_je80dc1 wrote

Dump DogeCoin, move all your assets into TaterBucks


dreww4546 t1_je85f7v wrote

I don't know...I got burned when i shifted my 401K to Byrd and they raised ticket prices


Slippy_T_Frog t1_je8i2ts wrote

What's the conversion rate of TaterBucks to Stanley Nickels?


CarlCasper t1_je99u48 wrote

I was wondering the same thing. Did tater tots really triple in cost back then? I know prices fluctuate, and I have seen plenty of food items go up, but I just don't recall something as basic as tots being that extreme of a swing. Maybe it's different going the distributor route as opposed to the stuff you get from Kroger or Aldi, not sure about that.


Hiltson87 t1_je9auje wrote

Yes, there was a huge processed potato shortage for almost a year. Frozen potato section at the grocery stores was always empty.


gracetw22 t1_je9uiqu wrote

I shorted tater tots and never have to work again


tusant t1_je7yxo4 wrote

Imagine having to buy food for your restaurant in this economy— especially when your food cost is higher than your menu pricing for said food. And your restaurant is how you earn your living.


fusion260 t1_je84rsp wrote

Indeed. I keep this in mind whenever I have a negative (but perfectly reasonable) experience with a restaurant before thinking for a second at how stressful it often is owning and running, let alone working in, a restaurant, and then withdrawing my complaint or closing out of the screen before posting it.


tusant t1_je85lhn wrote

In my opinion, the LAST resort post pandemic is to write a negative review of a restaurant. I can’t fathom the stress of running a restaurant now— escalating food costs, difficulty in finding wait staff, business down from people who still don’t want to eat out or have cut way back in their dining out, entitled clients who have never or will never own their own business, etc.


chairmanbrando t1_je88ste wrote

I already rarely ate out before this plague hit. Now I do so even less.

As usual, it's the corporations at the top fucking everybody below. For instance, the big eggmongers are bragging about their 700% increased profits while everyday people are like, "Are you fucking serious with the cost of a dozen eggs?!"

Our unchecked capitalism is gonna raw-dog this country until there's no one left who's able to buy anything.


Opacy t1_je9e1bo wrote

> Our unchecked capitalism is gonna raw-dog this country until there’s no one left who’s able to buy anything.

I sometimes wonder if our corporate masters realize how much Americans value eating out. Our social safety and services may be gutted, none of us can afford to buy a house, and we’ll all be bankrupted by a single bad medical bill, but damnit, we can all ignore that if we can go stuff our faces on cheap reheated SYSCO crap at the local restaurant of choice.

If people start getting priced out of being able to eat out, people might start getting legitimately angry at the state of things.


chairmanbrando t1_jead4ok wrote

It would be rather humorous if the revolution started not because of housing or healthcare but because of taters...


BureauOfBureaucrats t1_je9l0wr wrote

> Our unchecked capitalism is gonna raw-dog this country until there’s no one left who’s able to buy anything.

I haven’t been to a proper sit-down restaurant in over 2 years because we’ve been fucking broke. I’m tired of even existing at this point.


ttd_76 t1_jea2tuh wrote

It's The Mill. Look at that menu. $9.50 for fries with cheese, bacon, and gravy. Not that that isn't tasty, but it's horrible for you.

This is a fairly expensive restaurant in a relatively affluent area. People are not going there because they need sustenance quickly between working their two jobs. They are going there to splurge on food over a two hour brunch.

Their prices are on the higher end because they are trying to appeal to the higher end consumer. When the economy goes bad, luxury goods and services are the first to go. The next few years are going to be a bloodbath for local coffeeshops, breweries and restaurants.


OrtizDupri t1_jea7y8p wrote

$9.50 is not “higher end” prices


ttd_76 t1_jeahfub wrote

You're having a bit of an avocado toast moment. A bag of frozen fries at the store is what-- like $1.25 a lb?

If a school cafeteria were serving $9.50 fries with cheese, bacon, and gravy we would all be throwing a fit that they are serving unaffordable and unhealthy food.

You are paying extra money for your fries to be extra fucking tasty and unhealthy, and not have to do the work of cooking bacon and gravy and cleaning all of that up, so you can sit down and enjoy life and friends for an hour or so.

That is not corporations driving up the prices of inputs. That's demand from people who have both the money and time to savor a nice, long, relaxing, extra tasty meal and maybe some Mimosas. The Mill is filling that demand.

It's not like The Mill is ripping people off. If you want a fine French Fry experience while hopefully also paying their staff living wage, it's gonna cost an amount of money that only the relatively wealthy can afford.


OrtizDupri t1_jeahubs wrote


I mean I'm not a loaded fries person, but $9.50 is about what I would expect to pay at literally any bar or diner in most of the country for loaded fries. Bowlero, a bowling alley, charges like $15 for the same thing.

It's not high end.


ttd_76 t1_jeavqk1 wrote

Yeah, but Bowlero is kind of the same thing. At Bowlero you are also paying for the bowling, and the disco lights, and the arcade, and whatever else they got going on. It's not the food, it's the experience.

I miss old school bowling alleys where you just went there mainly to bowl. We used to bowl league at the old AMF by the airport and it was like $3.00 a game and half the time they'd let you bowl cheaper and sometimes for free.

But there wasn't a demand for cheap bowling anymore. That's why AMF had to rebrand themselves as Bowlero and bring out the loud music, blacklights, bars, DJ's and 40 lane entertainment complexes. I remember they had that "Bowling is just the beginning" ad line, which is really just another way of saying "No one wants to just bowl anymore."

The Mills is not particularly "high end" as far as Richmond brunch-ish places go. But Richmond brunch-y places are inherently somewhat high end. Everything is, nowadays. Bars, restaurants, movies, even strip clubs are trying to upscale in their own weird way.

There are no working middle class-ish entertainment options because the working middle class has been steadily drying up in this country in a way that is unsustainable.

You can definitely see that in Richmond. We used to laugh about how the Richmond scene was just Greek/Italian and burgers. There used to be like 20 places in the Fan that would serve you a ridiculously oversized plate of baked spaghetti for $10. Most of them have closed. But now there are 20 breweries in Scott's Addition where you can buy $20 four packs.

Things are gonna go back to being cheaper, shittier, and probably more corporate. But not because corporations are driving prices up, but because big corporations can keep prices down. The local economy in Richmond is an upper-middle class boutique economy mostly dealing in luxury goods and services.


OrtizDupri t1_jeb1eba wrote

The Bowleros around here are just rebranded whatevers - they might have one night a week that they do black lights, but 99% of the time they're just a regular boring old bowling alley. Just went the other night (Tuesday) and paid $3 a game and had the same regular bowling experience as back in the old days. Still have league nights where everyone shows up and drinks cheap beer and all the regular lights are on, etc.

Good nachos though.

> There are no working middle class-ish entertainment options because the working middle class has been steadily drying up in this country in a way that is unsustainable.

I generally do agree with this, but I also wonder if our definitions of middle class differ (I would say based on The Mill's menu that it is firmly a middle class establishment).


cdombroski t1_je9mpuk wrote

To my understanding, food costs are one of the smallest expenses in running a restaurant. Most of the expense comes from rent/equipment and salary. It's part of the reason portion sizes are so large: it doesn't cost much to give you more food, and it helps justify the higher prices needed to cover the larger expenses


tusant t1_je9rj1d wrote

Do you own and operate a restaurant? If not, sit down!


jamesyishere t1_je7v8ed wrote

thats not the only restaurant ive seen list tots as market price


threecolorless t1_je8b49h wrote

Barely related: I got tater tots as the side for my burger at Mellow Mushroom near Short Pump and I received 15 of them. Fifteen probably made-from-frozen tater tots that you could stuff in your mouth twelve at a time if you had the gumption. It seriously looked like half of the intended amount had fallen off the plate. I directly asked the server whether that was the correct amount of tater tots and was assured "yes, they're portioned." (?!? okay cool, now that I know your special word for it I'm satisfied)

Call it what you want, call me a fat American used to being calorie-bombed at every restaurant meal, but there's a certain quantity people expect when you call something a side. If you can't meet that at your profit margins then I guess mark the meal up another dollar or make that side a premium one, whatever makes sense for you to be able to give the amount any member of a first-world country envisions alongside their sandwich.


ShadyAdvise t1_je97086 wrote

Bro you sound ridiculously fat right now, it's was a side not the entree


bkemp1984Part2 t1_je8kb79 wrote

Fifteen sounds pretty perfect. So many sides tip a sandwich from not enough food to "holy shit, I feel awful after eating all this."


[deleted] t1_je8vdtl wrote



bkemp1984Part2 t1_je9m40o wrote

Why waste food just so I can say a restaurant served me what they should for someone in a "first-world country"? I'd rather sides not be as expensive, obviously, but why spend more money and create waste (or feel like shit for stuffing myself) when I can just not order it. Plenty of places solve this problem with small and large sides, as the smalls are usually reasonable.


theguru1974 t1_jebodor wrote

Totally agree. Portion sizes in this country are why most of us are obese. Put something in front of most people and they will cram it in their faces.


FromTheIsle t1_je9drqb wrote

Sounds like a smaller plate would have fixed the problem.

PS all tots are frozen. You are paying for reheated frozen sides.


threecolorless t1_je9dve4 wrote

Likely. It was more the psychological effect of it than anything and I can be aware of that while still feeling myself in it.


khuldrim t1_je9lo9v wrote

I believe toast makes their sweet potato ones by hand.


FromTheIsle t1_je9ltok wrote

That's good to know. But I never go into a tot situation expecting anything.


Opacy t1_je9ctxy wrote

> I directly asked the server whether that was the correct amount of tater tots and was assured “yes, they’re portioned.”

Ah, so that’s the word the focus groups came up with to rebrand shrinkflation.


CoffeexCup t1_je9m5j0 wrote

This is just called a chain restaurant. The person plating it would probably get fired if they gave them 18 tots.


DJSugarSnatch t1_je8kot3 wrote

considering the cost of food at Mellow Mushroom, I'm not surprised at all.
Just go with the beercheese and pretzel bites, they at least hook those up.


fluufhead t1_je9k3lm wrote

The age of American decadence is over. The long term economic future looks like new economic cold war featuring reshoring/friendly shoring of manufacturing and de-globalization. Rising interest rates are a tool to discipline the working class in advance of this.


[deleted] t1_je8muvj wrote

I can only make so many tots.


jsheil1 t1_jebxppt wrote

Sorry, this restaurant is fantastic! I've eaten here several times and will continue to go back! One of my top 5 meals in the city!


TreeFireAsh t1_jeabuln wrote

Only makes sense if those tots are tatered in house.


LoafRVA t1_jeaoakn wrote

With food shortages, crop diseases, climate change, geopolitical (and national political) issues this will most likely be the norm instead of the exception for many restaurants.


PopularMedicinetoday t1_jeb06lf wrote

I paid $15 for 10 wings recently. Rip off...and it was a generic bar, not specialty wing place.

I'm so tired of going out... I'm so glad RVA has a "go to someone's house culture" unlike DC and NYC. I'd rather give the host the $15 in beer and home made food and do a pot luck hangout or just chill on a porch than to go to a bar anymore.

Everything is a ripoff and all the bars look the same. Even local breweries all look like they came out of a corporate package. I'm convinced 90% of scott's addition restaurants/breweries/bars are all just mega corporate owned with swanky names like "WOOD & IRON" and "THE BOX" and "DOLLAR GENERAL"


c53x12 t1_jebrhw2 wrote

I remember when restaurant wings were around 50 cents each. And retail beer was around a dollar per 12 oz. The good old days.


KamenLee t1_jec4qwm wrote

100% funny and charming. Back in the day I loved that place.


[deleted] t1_je8vbc4 wrote



OMGEntitlement t1_je99bbt wrote

'When reprinting our menus this October we debated leaving the tots or removing them, due to product cost volatility. As a joke to ourselves we decided to leave them, but at market price. It has sparked a lot of good conversations between guests and staff, a small teaching moment about food costs and the continued struggles in the supply chain."'