What Does a $120 Cheesesteak Have to Do With Your Business

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In 2004, Howard Wein moved to Philadelphia to help launch a new restaurant. The goal was to create a new high-end steakhouse. The name they selected was Barclay Prime.

The goal was to create the best steakhouse experience imaginable. Located in a trendy part of downtown Philadelphia the restaurant was designed to create a unique high-end feel. They didn’t use traditional chairs but instead provided plush sofas clustered around marble tables.

The Barclay Prime Resturant

 
 
 
 
 
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As you might know, the restaurant landscape is crowded. Restaurants pop up and disappear almost overnight. The success rate is dismal. Even if you create an amazing restaurant that delivers exquisite food and a tremendous atmosphere, you still have to get the word out.

Howard wondered how he might get the word out. How might he stand apart from all the other steakhouses and high-end restaurants in Philadelphia?

He came up with the idea of a $100 cheesesteak.

Now we’re talking Philadelphia here. You can pick up a cheesesteak for a few dollars all over town at sandwich shops, pizzerias, and burger joints.

The hundred dollar cheesesteak couldn’t just be average, so it was loaded with high-end ingredients. Sliced Kobe beef is done to perfection, caramelized onions, heirloom tomatoes, and triple cream Taleggio cheese. They also added black truffles and butter-poached Maine lobster tail. To top it off, it was served with champagne.

Howard felt this was the way to create a sandwich worth talking about. And he was right! The hundred dollar cheesesteak sandwich became a real conversation piece.

Some people thought the sandwich was outrageous. They weren’t his customer, but no matter what they said, they raised awareness of the sandwich and Barkley Prime. Others tried the sandwich and thought it was like eating gold, just much tastier. But the bottom line to the whole enterprise was that people talked. Soon major media outlets began picking up the story of this hundred dollar cheesesteak. It seems all the buzz this amazing sandwich created paid off because Barclay Prime is still in business today.

Today, Barkley Prime’s cheesesteak is priced at $120. And though the ingredients have changed it’s still a conversation piece. Ultimately, people don’t buy what you do, they buy how it makes them feel. A $120 cheesesteak creates feelings. It creates a story that you can tell yourself.

The Barclay Prime $120 Cheesesteak Burger

 
 
 
 
 
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When you put $120 price tag on a cheesesteak it’s not just about the sandwich anymore. It’s about the experience and the feelings that it generates for you. What value do you place on that?

The value of your product or service is not the price you charge. What determines the value of your service or product? It’s the value that it adds to your customer’s life. It’s the story and feelings that they experience which determine the value.

When people make a purchase they’re ultimately buying a feeling. A few of these feelings include peace of mind, belonging, exclusivity, freedom, fun, happiness, and success.

Sometimes the price you charge tells a story. It can be a way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market space.

In 2001, Justin Gignac heard someone say that product packaging design didn’t matter. He decided to try an experiment to see if he could prove that statement wrong.

After a few weeks, Justin had an idea. He headed out into the streets of New York with some rubber gloves to collect some trash. After collecting it, he placed it in a clear plastic cube. He signed and dated each one and then wrote a label which said, Garbage of New York City. 100% authentic. Handpicked from the fertile streets of NY, NY.

Yankees Parade Garbage • 4

Justin took his new product to the streets of New York. He put a price of $10 on each cube. On the first day, he was about to give up hope of selling any when someone who appeared to be a tourist made a purchase.

Justin kept going out and selling his cubes. Gradually demand increased. Justin raised his prices in order to reduce demand for the cubes. Even at $50 a cube they kept selling! He even created special edition $100 cubes to commemorate President Obama’s inauguration.

Once Justin raised the price of the cubes to $50 people, begin to see them not just as souvenirs but as art.

Justin’s customers felt that they were getting something special, something exclusive. It was just a cube with trash from New York City, but because it meant something to people it had value.

In what area of your business might you be able to add more value to your customers or clients?

What’s ordinary about your business that you could make special–like taking New York City trash and turning it into art?

What area of your business could you dress up and charge more for–like taking a cheesesteak sandwich, dressing it up and charging a lot?

There are usually several opportunities just waiting to be discovered. All you have to do is start looking for those opportunities.

Trevor Wilson

Trevor Wilson

I love helping business owners who are passionate about making a positive difference in their clients' lives. I'm a passionate learner and teacher. My purpose is to help people live a more fulfilled life. In my professional life, I love helping business owners get clear on their purpose and identity. Then I help them clearly communicate their story so they can attract their ideal clients. I do this because I believe that when you work with your ideal clients you'll live a more fulfilled life.

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