May 17, 2008

Restaurants may be forced to serve small portions

The Dallas Morning News reports consumers are cutting back on portions (not because of health, but because of costs). Any way it happens, it will be good for your waistline and wallet.

With the price of basic foodstuffs, such as wheat and corn, making restaurant prices rise like a soufflé, consumers are cutting back. In part they're eating out less, but they're also eating less when they go out.

That means treats like the aforementioned bite-size cakes, fancy alcoholic drinks – even french fries – are finding fewer takers.

"When cash on hand gets tight, consumers will act to preserve their visit frequency while more aggressively managing their spending" on the meal, explains Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and information services for the National Restaurant Association.

"I can feel the pressure" of rising prices, said former Dallas resident Brad Hilton, 41, who was dining with friends Sunday at Maguire's North Dallas on the Dallas Parkway.

"I've been splitting meals with my girlfriend rather than both of us ordering something," added Mr. Hilton, who estimates he eats half of his dinners out, down from 60 percent a few months ago. "It makes sense price-wise and health-wise since you get such big portions."

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