Monday, January 23, 2017

The Price of LA's Best Lunch Deal Just Increased 50%. And I'm Conflicted About It.

Like many love their kids or dolls or train sets, I love a good lunch deal. A great lunch deal? Holy fucking shit, bro. That's why I have covered Mozza's Lunch/Bar Deal so adamantly over the years. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was the first to mention it at all.

Personally, it served as the beacon of lunch deals: a busy, acclaimed restaurant that didn't necessitate the additional business, offering their transcendent fare at a pauper's fee. A mere twenty buckaroos garnered a patron LA's top pizza, a glass of high quality Italian vino and then LA's top dessert (#ButterscotchBudino4Lyfe). It made Mozza, a restaurant inaccessible to many due to high (yet comparable) pricing and lack of reservation availability, attainable to UCLA Students, Production Assistants, Actor/Waiters, and Humble Food Bloggers alike.

So, imagine my chagrin when I happened to take a peep at the Mozza website last week...

I honestly thought I misread it, so I contacted Mozza PR to ensure I wasn't missing anything. They affirmed to me I had, in fact, understood correctly. The deal that was for the past six years $20 was now... $30. Yes, there are now few restrictions on which pizza you can order like before, but otherwise it's the exact same deal... at a 50 percent price increase. And it stings.

Mozza, to their credit, defended the price gouge, stating, "For a long time, the price of the bar special was untouched even as the cost of the product has steadily risen." As a food blogger who has spent a lot of time the past few years with restaurant operators discussing the realities of ownership, I can understand this. Hell, if you believe this very well-researched Thrillist article, it's about to be impossible to succeed. When I think about it, every time I've told an unknowing someone of the twenty dollar deal, almost every time they respond: "No way. There's no way it's THAT cheap."

It appears, from Mozza's response, they agreed. There is, in fact, no way it is that cheap. What started as an off-menu whisper evolved into a known entity to on the actual menu. The secret was out and people were taking advantage of it. It appears it came time to curb the discount.

Glancing at the ala carte menu, it is still a good deal. Albeit, no longer monumental. My normal Mozza order:

  • Bianca Pizza ($19)
  • Glass Of Wine ($15)
  • Butterscotch Budino ($11)
  • Total ($45)

Now, I am not here to make excuses for the restaurant. A lot of the perceived "value" of the deal -- even at $30 -- comes via rising Mozza menu prices. When the special first came to fruition all these items were multiple dollars cheaper. But, a $15 savings isn't terrible. I also don't want to overlook the fact that very few, if any, restaurants of Mozza quality offer any kind of special like this. Especially one in the middle of the day that enables customers to explore a vast array of the menu.

That said, and the point of all the mumbling: I implore Mozza to meet in the middle and make the Bar Special $25. While $30 most certainly seems justifiable from a food cost perspective, I think Mozza is overlooking the people who enjoy this deal. I don't spend $30 on lunch. UCLA students don't spend $30 on lunch. Struggling actors don't. Even on special occasions.

Thirty dollar lunches for me personally are solely when they're on a producer/studio's dime. And when they're on a studio/producer's dime we are not sitting at the bar. Heck, I rarely if ever even do $30 lunches with my parents. If the point of the price increase was to faze out the popularity of the Bar Deal, you will most certainly achieve your goal. But, if you hope to continue to receive the massive lunch walk-in business Monday through Thursday, it would very much behoove you to keep it in the twenties. Or, at the very least, offer an alternative version, sans the wine, at a very reasonable pricepoint.

The Bar Deal made Mozza, one of LA's finest culinary institutions, the people's culinary institution. It would suck if that weren't the case anymore. 

(Note: You CAN get a deal at Mozza for $20 through Friday via Restaurant Week. Take Advantage.
Other Note: Sorry for so many words on a friggin bar deal.)


  1. Consider this: chef's table airs later this year and Nancy will be featured. They instituted the special because business was at an all time low, the segment is a guaranteed boost in business so strike while the iron is hot.

    1. Very interesting theory. I wonder though: was it really at a low? Six years ago the place was packed - and even last year it was still at times tough to grab reservation. I think they did it because they could.

  2. If you support new employee-friendly laws like increased minimum wage and paid sick-time rules, then you have to support businesses raising prices to pay for it.

    1. You're absolutely right. And I do.
      But a 50% increase?

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