Is $5 Too Much To Pay For a Coke?


Myself and a couple other SE'rs had lunch today at Duck Lunch, David Chang's new mid-range fast-casual 20-seat spot in the back of Ssäm Bar (we'll have a full-on review soon).

Now just to set the scene, when I say fast-casual, I mean that it has real plates and silverware, but to get your food, you still have to walk up to a counter, place an order, and pay-as-you go, kinda like a fancy Fuddruckers. Napkins are paper, chopsticks are the cheap bamboo kind stuck into a cup.

In other words, it ain't fancy.

Halfway through our meal, I decided to order a Coke from the counter. I started pulling a few singles out of my wallet while the cashier rung me up. I took a quick look at the check, followed by an immediate double take.


I'd just ordered a five-dollar coke. Plus tax. Plus a line for a tip.

Before I really knew what was happening, I handed over my credit card and signed for it in somewhat of a daze.

It reminded me an awful lot of this scene:

Except at the end, my Coke tasted like... a Coke.

Now don't get me wrong. I can understand paying $5 or even more for a soft drink at a bar or club where there is a drink minimum. I'm even happy to pay $5 or more for a soft drink at a super fancy restaurant where it's served to me in a real glass with ice by a professional waiter or bartender.

But $5 for a Coke that I had to walk up to a counter to pick up myself, that I had to pay for immediately, that was served in a glass bottle with no cup, no ice, and not even a straw? Granted, it was one of those Mexican real-sugar Cokes, but five bucks plus tax, and the audacity to ask for a tip on top of what I just served myself?

That's ballsy, even for Chang.

Am I being unreasonable here? What's the most you would ever pay for a Coke in a restaurant?