Brown-Bagging is Hurting D.C. Restaurants

Two or three days last week my husband packed his lunch for work. This week he took a sandwich to the office on Monday and made himself a tuna melt this afternoon. Today he asked me to pick up more lunch meat from the grocery store, which is a sign that he’ll aim to eat in the office at least a few more days. My husband typically spends at least $6 – $8 a day eating lunch out with his coworkers. He works with a really fun group of guys and I’m glad that he has the opportunity to break from work to eat with them. That being said I’m glad that he’s considering packing his lunch at least one or two of the days he’s in the office.

On the days I work from home I always find something to eat in the pantry. On the days I go to work I typically pack part of my lunch and purchase a portion of it from the cafeteria. Unfortunately, I don’t work with a fun group of people I’d like to break bread with. Most of my coworkers eat at their desks. While I find this rather depressing, I will admit that it saves me from the peer pressure and cost of going out to eat. (Still there are times that I’d favor spending money with fun people, over saving money with lame ones.)

While brown-bagging helps our bottom line, our local television station claims that it’s hurting the bottom line of local establishments. Yesterday I watched a segment on Fox News that discussed the negative effect brown baggers are having on D.C restaurants. As more employees bring their lunch to work, less employees are going out to eat. In an attempt to avoid losing more business some upscale restaurants are catering to brown baggers by converting popular dishes into cheaper sandwich style versions of the same meals.

The reporter for this segment interviewed a very pricey restaurant where meals typically range from $20 – $30. The reduced menu will still cost $12 for a sandwich. An interviewee of the television segment said, “[Eating out is] about $10 for lunch, depending on what you get, and with $10 you could feed yourself lunch all week with some bread and lunch meat.” I couldn’t possibly agree more with that. In my opinion $10 – $12 is a lot of money to spend on lunch every day.

6 thoughts on “Brown-Bagging is Hurting D.C. Restaurants”

  1. That’s pretty much absurd, I think I spend about $10-$12 per week on food! Ok, maybe it’s closer to $20 but still, it’s ridiculous that people are willing to spend money like that. Although, I guess if they are making $30 per hour or something they probably don’t think much of it. For the rest of us though, it’s not such a simple matter and the obvious choice would be to bring your lunch to work

  2. They’re mad!!

    $10-$12 a DAY is $70 a week
    I spend maybe $30, MAX if I eat VERY well (expensive meat, cheeses)..

    That is if you cook at home.

    If you don’t, I can see how they think $10/lunch is cheap.

  3. I always bring my own food to work, but I do understand the restaurant industry's problem. My parents are self-employed restaurant owners. So with the economy not going so well & most people not eating out as often. It's hard for them to manage financially. However, I don't feel bad for restaurant chains that charge $10-12 for a sandwich! That's insane.
    PS I'm new to the PF blog world, but I have read several of your posts & do enjoy them. I just started my own blog & would appreciate it if you checked it out sometime & let me know what you think. Thanks!

  4. Cry me a bleeping river, restaurant industry! I think that brown bagging it leads to better financial and physical health, and it gives some insurance that eating out will feel like an actual treat, rather than something run-of-the-mill. Good on your husband for bringing his food to work, even a few days per week.

  5. I blogged about that recently…I always pack my husband’s lunch, mostly using leftovers from our dinners. In that case, a packed lunch is ridiculously cheap.

  6. Thanks for all of the comments. My husband has managed to pack his lunch almost every day since I wrote this post. I’m hopeful that he can keep this up at least a few days a week until the end of the year.


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