Rising food costs invokes creativity in restaurants

Janet Podolak of The News-Herald, Willoughby, the OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News wrote an about the reactions restaurateurs take in order to cope with the constantly rising prices of food.

The rising costs of flours, eggs and produce are hitting independent restaurateurs. Additionally, they are faced with empty tables as dining out is the first thing people cut from their budget when costs of living (such as gas prices high as $4 per gallon and more) raise tremendously.

Charging extra for bread, condiments and carry-out containers might be a solution, yet there are much more, although, some involve some change of habits.

Such as long forgotten or never utilised cost-conscious methods of using ingredients and produces like using broccoli stems for soups or grating them into slaws. Janet Podolak interviewed Randal Johnson, owner-chef at Molinari’s in Mentor, who said that “when he realized that the brine in pickles has vinegar and sugar in it, he used it in his tartar sauce. Delighted diners soon were commenting on the great taste.”

Others chose to discontinue seafood bars or reinventing themselves. Action is taken by joining trade associations and becoming well-connect with the restaurant community to find solutions together, or creating cooperatives in buying produce or ingredients.

Often by customers recognized “too big portions” get finally reduced to appropriate portions (vs. stacking up guest’s refrigerators with to go boxes of leftover food.)

Some owners created backyard gardens and grow vegetable: Fennel, Napa cabbage, Swiss chard, cucumbers, tomatoes.

Podolak writes about Chef Nick Kustala of Lure Bistro in Willoughby who said: “A flat of tomatoes costs me $18, and one plant produces 20 tomatoes. It helps us keep our prices down.”

Furthermore, he says in Podolak’s interview that “he urges diners to support independent restaurants, instead of chains, when they eat out.”

Kustala concludes: “Chains are great and Wal-Mart is great too, but all that money goes to China. It’s better to keep money in the area and keep our jobs here. You can feed yourself and the economy at the same time.”

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