Philippe’s restaurant in Los Angeles says it is the “home of the original French dip sandwich,” and until now it also bragged about its 9 cent coffee special with only 1 additional cent added for tax.
But that all changed Wednesday when the historic restaurant announced that February 2 customers will have to shell out 45 cents for their morning caffeine, with 5 cents tax.
When they first moved to this location in 1951, coffee was just a nickel. The price was raised to a dime in 1977 and remained this way until now. The family-owned restaurant struggled with whether to increase the price because of the 35-year tradition. Mark Massengill, manager and fourth-generation member of the founding family, told ABC News the rising price of coffee was just too much strain on their business to keep the price.
“We made the change because we felt it was time. It wasn’t a decision that came easily. The restaurant is based in tradition and 10 cent coffee has been an important part of that tradition,” Massengill told ABC News. “It was difficult decision. It was something we all talked about within the family.”
Philippe Mathieu started the original Philippe’s in 1908. According to their website, one day in 1918 “Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced French roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven,” and accidentally created the French dipped sandwich. The family has been running the restaurant ever since and it has become a staple for many individuals and families in the Los Angeles area.
“That is one of the beauties of the restaurant,” Massengill told ABC News.
“I would say a large part of our business is based on generations of families. And they have introduced their children to the restaurant. It has become a tradition and part of their cultural and family history.”
Part of that history is definitely the famously cheap price of coffee. Many find it unfathomable that in 2012 it could be possible to pay pocket change for their morning Joe. Despite the increase, Massengill said customer reaction has been favorable. Many questioned how they were able to keep the low price for so many years and respect that they are “trying run a business.”
“They have been grateful that we have kept it as low as we have as long as we have,” he said. “You can come in with two quarters now and buy a cup of coffee, which is still so low.”
Massengill says they have added the coffee to the breakfast meal, so customers can get more value.
“We hope that tradition will continue with 45 cent coffee,” he added.