March 30, 2010

Restaurant chains roll out small bites at small prices

The Cheesecake Factory logoImage via Wikipedia

When I started this blog in 2006, it just seemed like common sense that restaurants needed to provide portions in the rightsize. With an expanding economy and expanding waistlines, it was clear, something was going to explode. Unfortunately, both did.

There was no reason for restaurants -- back then or now -- to serve those two or three thousands calorie meals.

Now they have seen the errors of their ways. It's the dawn of RightSizingAmerica.

Restaurant chains roll out small bites at small prices - "Some of the nation's most familiar casual-dining chains are suddenly thinking smaller.
They're rolling out tapas-like small plates of shareable items that typically are cheaper than appetizers by a buck or two — or even three.

With business still in the tank — and customers hard to lure out of the I-can-eat-cheaper-at-home mentality — a cadre of casual-dining icons, including Houlihan's, Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen and BJ's Restaurants, are trying to boost business with value-priced items to be passed around the table.

The move comes at a time when the $75 billion casual-dining business — and the restaurant industry overall — continues to suffer.

For the most recent month available, 57% of restaurants reported a same-store sales decline in January from a year ago — worse than the 49% in December, says the National Restaurant Association.

Casual-dining chains are trying just about anything. They're particularly eager to attract socially minded Millennials who are just as comfortable sharing a plate of food as they are sharing social media.

"This is how the next generation is eating," says Bob Hartnett, CEO at Houlihan's, which just rolled out 23 small-plate items. "And we're in the business of giving people what they want. If we don't give it to them, they'll find someone else who will."
I think it's how all generations must eat.

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