Paying $24 for a glass of wine, is the recession over?

This past weekend I was a tourist in my own town and man, was it an eye opening experience. For a moment, at the Terrace Bar atop the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, I felt a rush being among the privileged set. Until I saw the menu and prices. Don't these people know there's a recession on?

Apparently not. The place was nearly full, on a Thursday night. Granted, it was one of those rare, exceptional perfect nights in Chicago. Just cool enough for long sleeves, no humidity and not a cloud in the sky. The view from the Terrace was so breathtaking it almost made the prices worth it. Almost.

Even my fully employed, in advertising no less, companion was aghast. As my friend from Los Angeles watched the server elegantly pour his wine selection, at $24 a glass, his mouth dropped open as the waiter stopped short and walked away with barely one third of the glass filled. The shortest pour ever, price notwithstanding.


We didn't order food, having just eaten at a more humble choice along the Chicago river. And while the food prices were equally astonishing, it's hard to find a straight up comparison since I can't remember ever seeing lamb loin sliders, on brioche with red pepper marmalade on a menu before, let alone if the dish cost $27.

I get we're paying for the view and the pleasure of being in a Trump property. But are times such that even Trump can command such a premium?

Hotel occupancy rates have seriously declined in Chicago , and elsewhere. Tourism everywhere is hurting and most people I know are choosing to stay close to home.

And while there, we're being much more value conscious. It's been ages since I've been out to eat somewhere that had a liquor license or didn't offer some kind of BYOB (bring your own booze), just to keep the tab down. But looking around the Terrace Bar one would never know. In a small way, it was almost worth it and not just for the view.

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