Restaurant Menus Are Shrinking, Hopefully Forever.

Food is the biggest expense for most restaurants in the United States at 25%-40% of their costs. Couple that with the challenges of food waste and it’s easy to see why COVID-19 has brought this problem to the forefront. Many restaurants have reduced the size of their menus to help control their costs – let’s hope this is a permanent change, here’s why:

It’s almost impossible for a restaurant to serve fresh food with a large menu because the economics do not allow for it. A large menu should be a warning sign to diners that many dishes or their components are frozen or pre-prepared elsewhere.

Pasta is a great bellwether. Frozen filled pasta and pre-made sauce are an extremely easy menu add. Asking if pasta is made in-house will start to peel back the economics of a restaurant. What about dessert?

You’re to blame. The ever changing trends, picky eaters, off-season economics, and over-saturation of restaurants are to blame. Trying to please everyone is why the Cheesecake Factory is a thing. According to their founder: “the more dishes, the better. If a couple was headed out to dinner and one person was craving Italian while the other wanted Mexican, they could both happily satisfy their appetites at The Cheesecake Factory.”

The Cheesecake Factory claims to have food costs under control, but smaller restaurants cannot afford that luxury.

COVID-19 presents an opportunity for restaurants to reset their menus, reduce costs and get back to fresher food. Our favorite local restaurants cannot survive with large menus. It’s a win-win for their survival and for their customers.

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