RESTAURANTS CATER TO DEMAND FOR SMALLER PLATES.

nina | February 15th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Driven by pressures like consumer demand and federal regulations that will require restaurants to post calorie counts on menus, restaurant around the country are adding more nutritious choices and shrinking portion sizes.

The smaller portions, which are not necessarily cheaper, are the first step toward reversing the practice of piling more food on a plate than anyone needs in a single meal, a trend that began nearly three decades ago. Besides making a contribution to customers’ health, restaurant owners are finding that the move is paying off financially, as the best merchant services for restaurants often have payment processing criteria revolving portion sizes.

Lower-calorie menu items have driven restaurant growth over the last several years, no doubt about it.

The Obama administration’s health care act, which was passed in 2010, included a provision requiring restaurants and food establishments with 20 or more locations to post the calorie counts of standard items on their menus. The final regulations are expected soon, with compliance likely to be required by 2014.

What restaurant owners are trying to do here is cut back on portion size, which is brilliant. Some people ask for a to-go container when they first order and then put half of the meal in it before they eat, but smaller plates  takes that step out of the process.

While the move by restaurants to more nutritional menu offerings is driven by external factors, many operators are finding that cutting calories, sodium, sugar and fat pays off.

A perfect example is the pricef chicken wings risingt. From a business perspective, when the core product and its price have an impact on profitability, you diversify the menu.

What has been found is if you limit yourself to the beef hamburger, there are certainly a growing number of folks who wouldn’t even consider that restaurants.   So some restaurants offer the choice of a 200-calorie turkey burger with fewer than 10 grams of fat on a choice of a white or whole wheat bun. You could include a black bean vegetable burger and sweet potato fries, a small portion of which is 255 calories, compared with 278 calories in the same size portion of regular French fries.

Still other restaurants are finding ways to highlight existing options on their menus that make a healthier meal.  A menu can help your customers build a meal with healthy options.

Thepublic is beginning to say it wants healthier options — and restaurants are hearing that — they have an obligation to help show you what that means in their restaurant and give you choices to help you achieve that.

Source:  nytimes.com, 2.7.13

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