Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | January 3, 2012

Prices at Molly’s Café

A while ago a friend was commenting on prices somewhere else, saying she could have gone to a market and bought the same thing for three lira instead of eight. I pointed out to her that pricing in a place like mine included a whole lot more than the price of the item itself. For example, a customer comes in and orders a meal and stays for an hour. This is what the person pays for in addition to the meal itself. Unlike your mom, you pay me for preparing your food. I do the shopping, I do most of the cooking, I often also do the serving and the picking up and washing of the dishes. I pay the rent so you can sit in my comfortable café for as long as you want. I pay the electric, water, and gas. I am the one who stresses about the various bureaucracies (the Byzantine bureaucracy was invented here, you know!). I pay the taxes (yes, I do!)– and unlike where I come from, instead of rent being a tax deduction, here you have to pay 20% tax on the rent. Ach. I have bought the appliances and the furniture, not to mention the decorations. I even feed the kitties that so entertain the customers. So is it worth 8 lira instead of 3? Of course it is! And perhaps more.

When I first came to Turkey in 1998, inflation was running at about 80%. Prices seemed to go up daily. Inflation is way down now, but prices are still going up, though more slowly. Since I buy in quantities for the café, I can really see how they are increasing. I recently bought filter coffee and was shocked to see that it had gone up yet again. I made me curious to see how other prices had gone up in the past year.


Here are some examples:

coffee almost 25%

eggs 50%

milk almost 70%

cheese 20%

flour 15%

walnuts 30%

cocoa 110%

green peppers 100%

canned tuna 30%

beer 20%


I shop carefully, but even so, local and world events make prices go up. For example, cocoa is very expensive now because of the problems in Ivory Coast. Green peppers are expensive because they no longer come from Syria in the winter. Milk products are generally a little more expensive in the winter, but still they are more expensive than last winter. Some things have higher taxes. And of course now there is an economic crisis and the dollar to the lira is very high.


I shop very carefully and over these past few years I have learned where to get the best prices at my own convenience. I shop every few weeks at Tahtakale for coffee, teas, herbs, cheeses and other things. I order several things from a company that delivers (so much better than hauling things myself!). Some people who have tried to sell things to me are shocked when I tell them that I can find the same thing cheaper at Dia, the local supermarket. Hey, bub, I know the prices! I buy produce from the local seller, which is not always cheaper, but I don’t have time to go to the Sunday market and those savings are wiped out by the taxi ride back anyway.


However, I think when people eat at Molly’s Café, they still get their money’s worth. They get a full plate of home cooked food and don’t leave hungry! I try to keep the prices as low as I can, but little by little they too are creeping up. Let’s hope the world calms down soon!




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