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Inauguration Gouging


TedE
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Lunch at the Dupont Teaism today: bento boxes are up to $10 from the normal $8.50 on a "special Inauguration menu". Also no handroll bento, other items were removed as well. A gentle jab about the price hike produced a sheepish "Sorry ..." from the cashier.

I know, I know, charge what the market will bear, blah blah blah. But grrrrrr.

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It's all over the place (concentrated in tourist areas), and is being executed in both obvious and subtle ways. Some restaurants are treating the inauguration as a quick money grab, fearing that in about another week, things are going to get really quiet...

Most hotels have a 4 day minimum booking at inflated prices for this week.

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Or, the opposite, such as I encountered at the Shirlington Capitol City Brew Pub last night. When I asked about the seriously truncated one-page dinner menu, I was told that it was their "inauguration menu", created to help streamline service. Obviously a corporate decision geared specifially toward the downtown DC locations; Shirlington was pretty dead last night. But that's what I get for going to Cap City, I guess (although the service was friendly and the IPA was good).

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Hey -- let them make all the money they can off the tourists and party-goers. I say gouge until it hurts. The rest of us can go back to our favorite spots next week. The only fond memory I have of the Reagan Administration is the huge payday his swearing in brought me and my fellow waiters at Le Pavillion.

I went to Moroni Brothers for pizza and plantains last night. No one there who doesn't live walking distance to the Green Line (or Red Line in the case of our friends). No markup, no hassle. Excellent pie. Sometimes it's good to be a local.

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Considering what I've been hearing about lousy tipping.. let them gouge. Waitstaff, bartenders and everyone else in the restaurant are so busy and overtired. It's like a marathon.

The spent all their money on the hotel room and getting here! :P Still no excuse for shorting the waitstaff. :D

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It's shocking.
Actually, it's to be expected. Unfortunately, it's a reality. You charge what the market will bear while you can. Next week, things will be back to normal (and there are a lot of places with $44 menus (Vermilion for one) who aren't overcharging clientele)
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We had lunch with friends from Seattle at Belga Café. The food was excellent. The server toooo friendly: Repeat after me, do not touch the customers, do not touch the customers, do not touch the customers but here was the gouge: Champagne listed on the menu as $7.50 a glass turned out to be sparkling wine from the Loire.

When I enquired further, I was told that if I really wanted champagne, I could have it for $12.00 a glass. Excuse me??? :o The server said there was nothing he could do so I asked for the manager. I guess the manager didn't want to get into it and so the waiter returned and said that we would be served Champagne and "only" pay the price on the menu. Like they were doing us a favour. :P

The restaurant was quite busy and it being a celebratory and festive time, I feel certain that much "champagne" was served to people who either didn't realize it wasn't champagne at all or who just didn't want to deal with it. Let me hasten to say that there is nothing wrong with sparkling wine from the Loire. But it isn't champagne and shouldn't be sold as such.

I'm surprised at the Belga Café because I thought they had a reputation for doing straight business. Now it makes me wonder what other faux menu items are being hawked there. :D

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(and there are a lot of places with $44 menus (Vermilion for one) who aren't overcharging clientele)

I had one of those $44 menus last night, at the bar at 2941. A generous portion of housemade tagliatelle with veal shortribs, a ribeye steak, sliced diagonally and served in a reduction with fried potatoes, and a complex, pear-based dessert with rum, mango and lime. It even came with an amuse-bouche of broccoli soup with truffle, a bread basket, and yes - a bag with two free baguettes in it, on the way out the door.

I left 2941 stuffed, happy, and feeling like I had just committed a crime - this was an amazing deal!

My advice to anyone looking for a good meal tonight that's not in the city: Head to the bar at 2941 and ask for the bar menu (you have to ask for it). At an otherwise-full restaurant, we were the only two people dining at the bar last night.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I stopped into the bar at Central last night around 6:00 and stayed until 7:30. When I entered there were only two other people at the bar. When I left it had finally filled. Still, I was shocked that with literally hundreds of thousands on Pennsylvania Avenue and nearby they were not two or three deep at Central's bar. Moules et frites were exemplery.

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No markups or any service problems at Rasika saturday or Dino sunday night. Both were delicious. :P

Also, stopped in for a quick pre-ball drink at Cap City Brewery and then Brasserie Beck monday night. The former was absolutely packed, and the latter pretty empty, despite just being a block away [and in my opinion, much better, although different].

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We were at Dino for our post-inauguration dinner last night and it was excellent value, as usual. The pate plate is an unbeatable deal. Three different pates, a fantastic duck mousse, a variety of pickles, a great fruit chutney, prosciutto, and crostini. I could have been happy with this appetizer alone.

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I stopped into the bar at Central last night around 6:00 and stayed until 7:30. When I entered there were only two other people at the bar. When I left it had finally filled. Still, I was shocked that with literally hundreds of thousands on Pennsylvania Avenue and nearby they were not two or three deep at Central's bar. Moules et frites were exemplery.

Did you witness any gougeres gouging?

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Are you a Bahamian? Have you ever been to The Super Bowl, The Olympics even a Rock Concert, ah...how are the prices? Supply meets demand. Millions of people showing up at once at your door, tourists and locals, imagine if you had to serve them and go above and beyond the call of duty and WOW them all? Bahamians hyped over Inauguration? Historical Event for the Nation's Capital. For those businesses and people that worked this event it was a lot of hard work yet exciting. This event created lots of additional if temporary jobs. For those establishments that were OPEN or had to be OPEN celebrating the Bahamian hype this was a huge money trail for local DC. Lots of revenue for the DC local economy for locals to thrive in DC. This event not only supported local business all around. I did not notice any gouging or mark ups in most restaurants or bars, as prices were moderately the same as usual. The streets are closed off, can you imagine working around that?

It felt like the Olympics in DC. This was HUGE Event for DC!

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I think you mean... ah never mind.

Ahh never mind...but...check this out...Inaugural memorabilia may fetch big bucks does this constitute as gouging? Just in case you were curious, you never know....?

Inaugural memorabilia may fetch big bucks, By BECCA MILFELD | 1/20/09 4:10 AM EST

In 2003, Steve Ferber turned Inauguration trash into treasure — he helped sell a 500-pound Bush podium placard that is now worth $1,500.

But don’t dive headfirst into every garbage can along the Obama parade route looking for loot to hawk on eBay. Before you grab a piece of bunting, laminate your Inauguration ticket or rip down a fancy sign thinking it’ll be worth something, consider this: The value of the item will depend on how rare it is and how popular Barack Obama ends up being as president.

A number of other confounding variables apply. Contact with or proximity to the president-elect is always a boon. A bound program book belonging to a John F. Kennedy aide who was present at Kennedy’s Inauguration sold for $300 last year through Heritage Auction Galleries.

The same goes for anything issued by the official Presidential Inaugural Committee. This includes Inauguration invitations, tickets and posters. On Ferber’s political collectibles website, a ticket for Jimmy Carter’s Inauguration ceremonies lists at $20, and a ticket for the inaugural platform for Kennedy’s Inauguration recently sold for $75.

So the button sold by a street hawker won’t have great long-term value, but perhaps the front-row ticket that belonged to a member of Congress will.

But the cardinal rule of political memorabilia is that it’s hard to determine ahead of time what will be valuable.

“Speculation is speculation, and you need to keep things that mean something to you,” said Marsha Dixey, a historical expert at Heritage Auction Galleries.

It’s not necessary to have an Inauguration invitation to snag a keepsake. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has issued millions of Inauguration fare cards with Obama’s image on them — marking the first time the transit system has put a president-elect’s face on the card. But a saturated market means reduced monetary value, and with 5 million paper cards and 40,000 plastic SmarTrip cards available, the Metro ticket machines won’t be spitting out financial windfalls.

That hasn’t stopped collectors such as Cary Jung, a Sacramento resident and founder of the Obama chapter of American Political Items Collectors, who has ordered two sets of Metro cards from WMATA’s website. He plans to keep one and sell or trade the other.

Some of the cards, which can cost as little as your train fare, were already making a slight profit Saturday on eBay, where nearly 65 sellers were hawking them.

The same holds true for special publications. In the days following Obama’s election, newspapers announcing his victory sold for up to $100, according to Ferber.

“After the hysteria is over, it will be a lot of years before that same copy will be worth $5,” Ferber said. John F. Kennedy’s election and Inauguration newspapers are now worth only $5 to $10 because so many people bought and kept a copy.

The Washington Post will print 2.7 million newspapers — comprising three different editions — Jan. 20 and 21. Washingtonian magazine has upped its newsstand circulation from 75,000 to 155,000 for its January Inauguration issue. These aren’t going to be the type of items that appreciate greatly in value, but they’ll be coveted keepsakes.

The streets are already flooded with hawkers. The Washington Post reports that 550 street peddlers have the green light to sell food and mementos downtown — five times the number that came out for George W. Bush’s 2005 Inauguration. Or for a minimum of $949 a night, a stay at the Willard Hotel will get guests a handful of swankier memorabilia, such as complimentary silver inaugural pins from Tiffany & Co., and Pick-Up Sticks for picking up the economy.

“We haven’t seen such interest in the 35 years we’ve been in the business,” Ferber said, adding that as long as Obama doesn’t “screw up,” his memorabilia should increase in value.

Just how much is unclear.

“If you wanted to start collecting, this would not be a bad place to start,” Jung said.

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