When you’re hungry for Chinese food, you’re usually spoiled for choices.
One company that tends to stand above the rest is P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.
P.F. Chang’s stands apart because of its creative take on Asian cuisine.
However, you’ll also quickly discover that eating at P.F. Chang’s can be quite expensive.
Why Is P.F. Chang’s So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
P.F. Chang’s has a pretty pricey menu.
With lettuce wraps starting at $13, the prices only increase from there.
Several factors, like food costs, labor costs, and several different streams of income, have made P.F. Chang’s an expensive place to eat.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. At-Home Food Products
If you don’t feel like eating at a P.F. Chang’s restaurant, the brand has you covered.
They also sell at-home food products that you can prepare in your home kitchen.
There’s an abundance of different frozen P.F. Chang’s entrées that you can enjoy.
They’re all based on certain menu items in the actual restaurant.
While this can make eating their style of Chinese food more convenient, it also comes with higher costs.
For one, P.F. Chang’s at-home food products are more expensive because they’re made to last longer.
In a restaurant, the food is relatively fresh since the business plans to cook and serve that food that day.
They don’t have to worry about doing things like adding preservatives to increase the shelf-life of the ingredients.
Their at-home products do require preservatives, which means their manufacturing processes are going to be costlier.
The fact that they sell at-home food products brings more operating costs to the chain overall.
While it means they have another income stream, it also means the business has to stretch itself to accommodate the costs associated with producing food costs.
Its restaurant prices become a bit higher to support its at-home food product endeavor.
P.F. Chang’s is expensive because it takes on additional production costs with its at-home food product line.
2. Merchandise Production Costs
Food products aren’t the only thing costing P.F. Chang’s more money either.
They also opened up a merchandise store.
You can buy everything from t-shirts to cookware.
All of them come with P.F. Chang’s sign of approval.
There’s a lot of love for the brand, and P.F. Chang’s chose to capitalize on that by selling merchandise.
Selling apparel and cookware has nothing to do with running a restaurant.
As such, P.F. Chang’s has to take on more costs to run those production lines.
They need to find partners to provide the materials, build factories, and then hire labor to produce their goods.
They also need to put together a distribution center and work with carriers for deliveries.
All these costs mean that the business has to balance its costs with its revenue.
To ensure they’re still making a profit, P.F. Chang’s has high prices on its menu items.
It also has higher prices on its cookware and apparel.
Part of the reason for the higher prices is simply the brand name.
If someone loves eating at P.F. Chang’s, then they might want to wear a shirt representing their favorite restaurant.
The only place you can get a P.F. Chang’s official t-shirt is at their merchandise store.
Since they have a monopoly on official merchandise, they’re able to put whatever price they want on it.
If someone wants to support the chain enough, then they’ll pay that high price.
P.F. Chang’s is expensive because of the costs added to the business via its merchandise store.
3. High Labor Costs
Another reason P.F. Chang’s is expensive is that it has high labor costs.
Very few restaurants in the United States pay waiters and hosts an actual living wage.
Instead, they rely on a tipping economy.
P.F. Chang’s doesn’t.
They pay their employees a starting rate of $13 an hour.
According to Indeed, they also pay their line cooks more than $16 an hour.
That’s just for the restaurants.
Considering that they have factories producing their at-home food products, apparel, and cookware, they also have a ton of employees not associated with their restaurants.
Those employees need living wages, too.
Then there are also managers, supervisors, and all the executives who get paid as well.
Since P.F. Chang’s pays them an actual wage instead of just having them get paid via tips, they have much higher labor costs than other restaurants.
That’s a driving force behind their higher prices because it adds to their costs of operation.
Restaurants that rely on a tipping economy don’t have as high labor costs.
As a result, they’re able to keep their prices cheap since they don’t have to make as much revenue to earn a profit.
Paying high wages, however, means that P.F. Chang’s usually has a pretty happy staff.
They don’t have as high of a turnover rate as other restaurants.
As a result, they’re able to save money on training and recruitment.
When you eat at P.F. Chang’s, you’re able to support the workers serving you.
P.F. Chang’s is expensive because it has high labor costs throughout its businesses.
4. Single Dishes Over Family Deals
P.F. Chang’s is also expensive because it encourages you to buy a family deal rather than just a single dish.
When you eat at P.F. Chang’s, there is usually some sort of family deal going on.
The family deal gets you a certain number of dishes for a discounted rate.
The idea is to be able to feed everyone in the family without emptying your wallet.
Even if you’re eating alone, you can still use the family deals to get a lot of food for a cheaper rate.
P.F. Chang’s prefers its family deals since it means they’re able to make more money in the long run and produce a lot of food.
There’s less waste for them.
Single dishes, on the other hand, have a higher price because P.F. Chang’s has to earn as much money as possible on that single dish.
With family deals, the profit gets spread around by the different dishes.
With a single dish, all the profit they want to earn comes from that single dish.
As such, if you want to save some money eating at P.F. Chang’s, then choosing the family deal over a single dish can help.
P.F. Chang’s is expensive because its single dishes are expensive.
5. Sushi Ingredients Are Pricey
One of the most expensive dishes at P.F. Chang’s is its sushi meals.
Considering that P.F. Chang’s is an American-Chinese restaurant, you might think that sushi would be one of its cheapest dishes.
Sushi is expensive at P.F. Chang’s for several reasons.
The primary reason is that sushi ingredients can get pricey.
When P.F. Chang’s makes sushi, it has to get its seafood and other ingredients from the local market.
While some P.F. Chang’s locations may benefit from being close to the coast, not all restaurants are.
As such, they don’t have easy access to fresh fish.
Even some restaurants that are close to the coast may not have access to the type of seafood that it needs.
As such, they have to import sushi ingredients from other places in the country or even the world.
That adds a lot of cost to the price of sushi ingredients.
To make up for the costs, they have to sell their sushi dishes at higher prices.
Another reason sushi is expensive at P.F. Chang’s is that it’s a hallmark of Chinese cuisine.
Many come to a Chinese or Japanese restaurant expecting to be able to eat sushi.
Since sushi isn’t typical American food, they likely have some sort of expectation that sushi might be a bit more expensive than a typical burger.
With that expectation in place, P.F. Chang’s is able to sell its sushi at a higher price and get away with it.
P.F. Chang’s is expensive when you order sushi.
6. Expensive Alcohol Pricing
Another reason P.F. Chang’s is expensive is that it has expensive alcohol.
You might not consider P.F. Chang’s as the sort of place to get great alcohol, but it has a huge selection of different alcohol available.
It ranges from traditional Japanese and Asian alcohol to staples like Bud Light and Coors.
You can even find incredible variations of wine.
They import wine from Australia and even Argentina.
Their drinks are expensive for a few reasons.
One of those reasons is simply that alcohol itself is expensive.
It’s expensive to make, and it isn’t something that people buy all the time, in most cases.
There’s also a belief that the more expensive a type of alcohol is, like wine, the higher quality it is.
P.F. Chang’s also sells alcohol that you can typically only get at Asian restaurants.
It has different types of saké and even Japanese-style whiskeys on hand.
P.F. Chang’s takes on some costs to import all those different types of alcohol.
They make up for import costs and other costs by having high prices on their alcohol.
7. High Markups
P.F. Chang’s is able to save a lot of money by using ingredients with low growing costs.
It then uses high markups to earn a good amount of money from the dishes made with those ingredients.
A report by Reader’s Digest found that certain dishes are quite cheap to make and come with high markups at restaurants.
Edamame, for example, is one of the dishes that you can buy at P.F. Chang’s.
It tends to have around a 1,250% markup.
Since the dish itself costs about $1.95 a pound to make, and P.F. Chang’s sells edamame at $8.00, it’s obvious they have a pretty high markup price.
Every business has markups.
It’s how they earn profit.
Some businesses have higher markups than others.
When it comes to P.F. Chang’s, they’re expensive because they use high markups to price their dishes.
8. Free Loyalty Rewards Program
P.F. Chang’s has a free loyalty rewards program.
While this may seem beneficial for diners who eat at P.F. Chang’s frequently, it’s also a reason why the restaurant is expensive.
P.F. Chang’s rewards program allows you to earn certain points towards a free meal.
Once you earn enough points, you can cash those points in and get something for free at P.F. Chang’s.
This costs the business money since you’re basically getting something for free that cost them money to make.
The fact that P.F. Chang’s reward program is free to join also means the company is losing a bit of money.
Other businesses sometimes charge some sort of annual fee to join their rewards program.
The fee helps them cover the cost of any free meals that the person eventually unlocks.
It’s a little less risky with its finances.
P.F. Chang’s instead places high prices on its dishes.
By having high prices, they’re able to pool together enough money to cover the costs of free meals.
Since rewards programs rely on people to eat a certain amount, money-wise, of food before unlocking a free meal, it means P.F. Chang’s can earn enough revenue to offer that free meal without losing too much money.
P.F. Chang’s is expensive because it uses its revenue to offer a rewards program free of annual charges.
9. High Chicken Prices
Another reason P.F. Chang’s is expensive is because of the high price of chicken.
P.F. Chang’s uses chicken for quite a few of its recipes.
Chicken is an expensive animal product for a few reasons.
The primary one is the supply chain.
The COVID-19 pandemic messed up the supply chain for chicken in a big way.
With restaurants closed during the pandemic, ranchers had to cull some of their chickens or grow them smaller for grocery stores.
They didn’t have restaurants around to sell to.
When the pandemic waned and restaurants opened again or switched to takeout, demand rose for chicken.
In particular, there was a high demand for chicken wings and thighs since they’re easy to transport via delivery drivers.
Restaurants have also started to introduce chicken products to replace beef products.
Chicken sandwiches, for example, are all the rage.
With a high demand for chicken but low supply, it’s caused the price of chickens to also rise.
This means P.F. Chang’s has to spend more to get its chicken.
It has higher prices on its chicken dishes to make up for those higher costs.
10. Pork Prices Rising
A final reason P.F. Chang’s is expensive is that they’re spending more money on pork.
P.F. Chang’s has quite a few pork dishes on its menu.
To make those dishes, they have to pay a higher price for pork.
Pork prices have increased due to supply problems and inflation.
It becomes more expensive to feed and raise pigs for slaughter.
Since ranchers spend more money to raise pigs, they have to sell them at higher prices to make up for the costs.
This means P.F. Chang’s has to spend more money, too.
The result is that those eating pork dishes at P.F. Chang’s pay a higher price to cover everyone’s costs.
P.F. Chang’s is expensive because of the high price of pork.
P.F. Chang’s is a beloved Asian-American restaurant that sells an abundance of different dishes.
Food costs, labor costs, and some of the other factors listed above are why you can expect an expensive food bill when you eat there.