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Feast Your Eyes On This: The Dish On Menu Tricks And Dining Deception

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Summer nights are great time to dine out, but thanks to something that you might not know about menus you could wind up spending more than you expect.

“I usually overspend when I go out,” David Lipke told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

That’s exactly what restaurant owners want, and there are lots of little tricks on the menu designed to get you to spend.

A recent study by Cornell University found that items with bold, highlighted, or colored text, and items in a ‘box’ attracted more attention, making diners more likely to order them.

Adding a few extra words to an item’s description translated to 28-percent more sales. When a seafood filet became a ‘succulent Italian seafood filet’ customers were willing to pay an average of 12-percent more for the meal.

Another study found that diners tend to spend more when the price does not have a dollar sign attached.

The Institute of Culinary Education’s Vince McCann said that there is a whole psychology behind designing the menu.

“So when you open a menu like this, people’s eyes usually gravitate to this right hand section. This upper right hand section first,” McCann said.

That spot is where you will find what restaurants want to sell most. The order that items are listed within a category is another trick, CBS 2’s Hsu reported. Items in the first, second, and last position are being pushed.

When it comes to specials, beware.

“Very often the special is just something that the restaurant needs to get rid of,” McCann said, “They should always ask the price of the special because the menu may read $20, $22, and you buy the special and it’s $25.”

The good news for customers is that August is slow for restaurant, so there are lots of deals available.

Restaurant week in New York City runs through August 15.

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