Martine Rolls: High cost of eating out

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Last week, we posted a story by Kiri Gillespie on how business has dropped off for bars and restaurants on The Strand.

I, too, have noticed that it is much quieter than previous years and that's a shame because we are having such a cracking summer.

As I work in the CBD, I quite like to pop over to the waterfront on a Thursday or Friday after work for a chardonnay or two and a chat with friends, and also enjoy going out for lunch, but I don't do either of these things as often as I used to.

The reason is the cost, that's plain and simple.

Many of the people who commented on the story about why The Strand no longer is easy street feel the same.

MPeterson said: "Mains are too expensive for a couple wanting a decent meal out. This isn't New York City or London, people. It is Tauranga.

Check the prices in international cities and you'll find we are getting ripped off portion wise and price wise. To compensate, we have to purchase Treatme or Grabone deals to afford eating out. Otherwise, we would not pay full price."

He or she also suggests: "If meals were more affordable, even just dropping them $5 each, we'd frequent restaurants more often, not less. So they'd make more money on people in the long run if they lowered the prices and got more volume."

Gee90000 said: "As someone who goes to town at night regularly over the weekends, the only problem besides parking is that there is a recession on and people don't have the discretionary income and have cut back on extra spending. I certainly don't spend on a night out what I used to a year ago."

All this brings to mind a story we published in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend earlier this month, in which Diane Bruin from Tauranga Budget Advisory Service explains that there are plenty of people in the Bay who are earning an average wage but are unable to get ahead.

"They were working hard but don't have money for holidays or to put the kids into extracurricular activities," she said.

It won't be a surprise to anyone that these people won't have the cash to splash out on drinking and dining on The Strand either, not to mention for a taxi home.

A more recent story, in which Tauranga Chamber of Commerce's CEO Max Mason talks about the living wage, states that 44.4 per cent of people in Tauranga have an annual income of $20,000 or less.

I think that is a shocking statistic. With figures like that, it's no surprise that so many local hospitality outlets and retailers are finding it hard.

Readers who commented also complained about bad service and the lack of parking spaces, or suggest that The Strand should be closed off for traffic after 5pm, and others share my biggest peeve.

Every time I do go out and have a few drinks, I get stung with a taxi bill between $40 and $50, and I don't even live that far out of town.

Don't get me wrong - I realise that taxi permits are expensive to get and to maintain, and of course taxi drivers need to make a living, like everyone else.

But $54 from the Mount to Welcome Bay, which is what I was charged a few weeks ago, is just ridiculous.

So the next time I'll go out, I will simply have to drink lemon, lime and bitters or something, maybe just have a few glasses of water instead, and drive home.

I don't need to drink alcohol to have a good time, but sometimes I really do feel like unwinding in nice surroundings with good company and a few glasses of wine.

So what should I do then? Go out into town anyway, pay top dollar, get an overpriced cab home and eat beans on toast for the rest of the week?

Someone did tell me that the RSA has a courtesy van, and so do a few of the local taverns.

I think I'll just stay home.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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