Reshaping Restaurants

As discussed in this article, mid-tier casual restaurants are starting to suffer due to rising food costs and dropping consumer spending. Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale restaurants are closing their doors.

photo by JasonJT (via creative commonsMy empathy goes to the restaurants’ now unemployed workers, but maybe that pain will reap some greater good. I have an idea for restaurants: Don’t waste so much friggin food!

On a slightly more tactful note, this economic downturn might provide an opportunity for the restaurant industry to reform itself. My sense is that those outlets providing healthier, local foods in smaller portions at reasonable prices will thrive.

It would be interesting to see if T.G.I. Friday’s “Right Portion, Right Price” menu is helping the company maintain its revenues. Unfortunately, T.G.I. Friday’s is part of a privately held company (Carlson), so I can’t tell you how they’re doing financially. (It would have been a long shot that the company gave such details of its financial performance, anyway.) I can tell you that, underwhelmingly, dads get free onion rings on Father’s Day there…

If the aforementioned restaurant reform does occur, it will be a logistical challenge, though not unprecedented, for a national chain to provide local foods. Whole Foods sells local items, but only in small amounts. Happily, this would provide an opportunity for independent restaurants to combat chains’ economies of scale.

The good news for us food waste haters is that, for locally-owned and chain restaurants, it’s easy to cut portions and prices. I’m curious: What changes would you like to see in restaurant industry? And have you seen similar to T.G.I.’s “Right Portion” promotion?

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