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Unless you're rolling in it, most of us pause before ordering that $2 side of guacamole at Chipotle.
And with good reason: a study out from Plate IQ illustrates just how much restaurants mark up some items more than others.
It's worth noting that restaurant profit margins are razor thin — 2 to 6 percent — according to most industry estimates.
So, for eateries to get by, you know they are marking up items, but by how much? Here are some of the most eye-popping markups on common toppings:
Meat (on pizza): 525 percent
Vegetables (on pizza): 525 percent
Sour cream (on burrito): 426 percent
Cheese (on burger): 417 percent
Guacamole (on burrito): 285 percent
Pizza as a whole was one of the biggest culprits in the study, with an estimated 636 percent markup on meat pies.
That makes sense, as let's face it — yes, dough is cheap (roughly 15 cents for the restaurant, according to the study), but compared to picking up the phone, making your own pizza is a pain. And it's one of those things we order when we've completely given up and will gladly pay $2 for 36 cents worth of mushrooms.
Omelets were another high-markup item, averaging a 566 percent mark-up for a Denver-style or 471 percent for a spinach one. (And again, raise your hand if you can expertly flip an omelet without destroying your kitchen — yeah, that's what we thought.)
Burritos had a relatively modest markup as a whole, at 158 percent — but where you run into trouble is with that guac and sour cream, at 285- and 426-percent markups, respectively.
At the end of the day, you're paying for added taste, and convenience, of course — you're not just paying for that slice of cheese on a burger, but the workers' time, the electricity, rent, the pricey industrial stove.
Speaking from experience, I once brought my own sprinkles to add to my soft serve after stepping out of a Tasti D-Lite, much to the embarrassment of my husband. After all, I reasoned, the sprinkles were 50 cents per cone, and I could buy a whole tub of them for $1.99 at the grocery store.
I did that once. Not only did I create a mess on the sidewalk, but pretty sure the sprinkles burst open all over my bag. Serves me right—and at least from then on, the markup didn't seem so bad.