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Cheesecake Factory Will Post Drink Prices in Mass. After Threatened Suit; Law Prof Cites UCC

Posted Feb 13, 2012 8:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Cheesecake Factory will begin posting drink prices at its seven Massachusetts locations after a lawyer threatened a lawsuit.

Buoyed by the change, Newton lawyer Ross Mitchell tells the Boston Herald he will pursue other restaurants as well. “At this point we’re looking at other national chains,” he said, “but we’re going to go after everybody.”

Mitchell had threatened to sue under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act on behalf of a friend who was charged $11 for a margarita at a Cheesecake Factory in Chestnut Hill. The price was not on the menu and the server was only able to provide a range of drink costs.

“It’s basically a problem that’s been creeping in over the last several years that everybody’s experienced,” Mitchell told the Boston Herald. “Restaurants will tell you what they have, and you have to ask them what it costs, and of course nobody wants to do that because it’s socially unacceptable.”

Texas Wesleyan law professor Franklin Snyder weighed in on the practice in a New York Times column about a diner who ordered a lunch special—pasta with white truffles—without knowing the price. The charge was $275.

“You might be interested in letting your readers know that a restaurant meal is a ‘sale of goods’ under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code,” he wrote to the Times. “The code provides that where the buyer and seller have agreed to a contract but have not agreed on the price, the price is not what the seller subsequently demands. It’s a reasonable price for the goods at issue. Thus a customer has no obligation to pay for anything more than the reasonable price of a pasta meal at a trendy restaurant.”

Updated at 7:55 a.m. to include information from the New York Times.

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