Holy Price Hike! Philly Chains Raise Prices This Weekend
Follow Philadelphia magazine’s live coverage of Pope Francis’s historic visit all weekend long.
My dad and I stepped into the Dunkin’ Donuts this morning looking for breakfast. Workers behind the counter told us prices were higher for the next three days. They were apologetic about it, but bagels, donuts and coffee were now a bit more expensive.
It’s the same story all over Center City. The Burger King at Eighth and Market has a “Papal Visit Menu”: A medium order of fries costs $3. McDonald’s at 9th and Market raised the price of an Egg McMuffin from $3 to $4 — and did it starting Thursday.
This is not a corporate decree from Dunkin’. It’s a result of franchisees setting their own prices. Ed Donovan, a spokesman for Dunkin’ Donuts, said franchises get guidelines on pricing but have some leeway. The Dunkin’ price jump was the result of a franchisee that owns several locations downtown. The company later released a statement.
“There are nearly 600 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia Area that are open and excited to serve the community during the upcoming Papal visit,” Dunkin’ Brands public relations senior manager Justin Drake said. “Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants are independently owned and operated by individual franchisees who are solely responsible for making their own business decisions, including setting pricing in their restaurants.”
McDonald’s and Burger King did not return requests for comment.
The papal price hike doesn’t just come from chain restaurants. The official Aramark meals include a Family Pack for four that includes four Tastykakes, sandwiches, potato chips, soft pretzels and drinks for $125. (You also get a commemorative papal tin, four pope trading cards and a medal.) A two-pack is $70. Billy Penn’s Danya Henninger notes that, at a Center City convenience store, the papal meal would cost $28.02. (The full menu is more in line with general Aramark stadium prices.)
And if you want a cheesesteak from Campo’s in Old City, be prepared. A “Holy Meal” there — a cheesesteak, chips and a drink in a commemorative papal cup — costs $17.76. A cheesesteak there usually costs $9; with chips and a drink, this really isn’t that much more expensive.
City Paper’s Emily Guendelsberger talked earlier this week with the makers of pope bobbleheads, plush dolls and toasters, contrasting it with Francis’ message that “this economy kills.” People need to eat (or they want Pope Francis bobbleheads, which Royal Bobbles tells CP are “difficult to keep … in stock”). Therefore, people (and corporations, which are also considered people in the United States) are going to make money off the papal visit. And they’re allowed to. Not everyone is Catholic; not everyone respects the pope. Jacking up prices for the papal visit is more tacky than anything else.
But, just take it as a warning: If you’re going out in Center City this weekend, you might have to spend more for lunch than you usually do.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.