Given the current economic situation, should restaurants continue to increase prices or offer smaller portions?

Given the current economic situation, should restaurants continue to increase prices or offer smaller portions? — Heather B.

To better understand the mystery, let’s go back a few years. When the pandemic first appeared, some restaurants began charging guest checks extra for subsidizing credit card fees, increased food costs, takeaway container costs, additional safety equipment costs, “health and wellness” fees, and so on. We have long seen that establishments should include any and all incidentals in their menu price list, rather than nickel-and-dime guests with a series of fees. (And in fact, due to the backlash from consumers, many establishments canceled it.)

When labor and food costs increased, most restaurants had to raise prices. With inflation rising, they did it again reluctantly. Recently, many operators felt they had reached the maximum prices customers would be willing to pay and considered reducing portion sizes, as many retail products have done. (Others have reacted by reimposing the above fee, in what is now called a “fee payment.”)

Today, we still claim that diners are resigned to paying higher menu prices and are willing to do so for the same quality and quantity. (They don’t like it but they understand the reasons.)

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We asked several chefs and restaurateurs in St. Louis to rate the following:

Natasha KwanAnd the Frida’s, Cantina Diego, Station No. 3: “Raising prices is a difficult issue because you always risk losing a guest or guest which may happen less frequently. While we have played with raising prices… this is still a tough decision. It does more harm than good. I don’t see any increase for over a year. For example, a 40-pound chicken packet was $30 and was over $100 for two years. Lime rates range from $26 to $105 per case, depending on Time of year.And that’s just food!Consumables are exceptionally high, and because takeaway uses up to $4 in disposable containers, we thought we’d add a go-to fee.So far, this has been a cost we’re just taking in.Move to a cheaper rate Product, like Styrofoam, out of question Labor costs – yikes! We haven’t raised our prices yet. I compare distributors’ prices weekly and have a spreadsheet to plot it before I place my orders.”

Brant BaldanzaAnd the OG Hospitality Group: “This has been a nearly weekly topic in our management meetings. Just like how ‘Joe Public’ feels about the price hike these days, the bottom line for the restaurant has felt that too. We pay 25-30 percent more to employees and just as much, if not more, of the raise. In restaurant food and supplies compared to pre-COVID costs in 2019. However, all of us at OG agree that plate size should remain the same as our guests from previous visits expect to raise to fit our metrics. The “dirty” inflation that affects us all instead of the “dirty” moment they just stole and left half their meal in the kitchen.”

Tony NguyenAnd the Dream: “I feel very strongly that no one should leave my restaurant feeling hungry or cheating. If menu prices have to be increased to make that happen, so be it.”

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Phil LoweAnd the saucy burka: “I think raising prices accordingly makes the most sense. Unfortunately, we have to maintain margins that will not jeopardize the quality and value of our food. There are still major supply chain issues, and we still struggle with making products as simple as cornstarch and canned corn. No. The perception of the dish is still very important. As a guest who dines out, I prefer to pay a little more for a full meal.”

Chris LaroccaAnd the Crushed Red, Culinary Engineers: “Never underestimate your portion. Ship what you have, but don’t mess with portion sizes. It will explode in your face.”

We also inquired about a few members SLM dining team:

Holly Fan: “Increasing prices is the only option here. Trying to reduce the cost of food in smaller portion sizes may help the profit margin slightly on some dishes, but a negative change in the quality of what the restaurant serves is never the answer. Transparency is key. Customers are more willing to accept unpleasant changes If they feel they are being treated honestly, being open to higher menu prices is more honest and candid than making changes behind the scenes.”

Dave Lowry: “Restaurants should consider a third option, modifying menus. You may need to use ‘exotic’ ingredients, ‘locally sourced’ foods, and other boutique items. Instead of focusing so hard on getting the latest hot item, why not focus on more priced options? Reasonable?A good restaurant, with some notable exceptions, should be able to put together a great menu using ingredients available at a local grocery store.Yes, some international cuisine may require ingredients that are not readily available in St. Louis and may be more expensive.But many restaurants You should view this current economic situation as a challenge… Portions and prices can remain constant. Perhaps it is the attitude of many kitchens that needs adjusting.”


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