It might seem inevitable that casual-dining chains would jump on the smaller-serving bandwagon, given the recent success of 100-calorie servings of snacks and sodas from Kraft
In 2004, Ruby Tuesday's
There is also the matter of economics, from both the diner's viewpoint and the restaurant's. If diners are served a huge amount of food for a relatively low price, they feel they are getting a good deal. If the portions shrink but the price doesn't go down noticeably, that's a problem from the diner's perspective. For restaurants, where food only accounts for about a third of total expenses (the costs of labor, rent, advertising, and other expenses make up the rest), it makes more economic sense to serve larger portions and keep the customers satisfied.
TGI Friday's Right Size portions are about a third smaller than its regular dishes, and the prices range from $6.99 to $8.99. According to Richard Snead, chief executive of Carlson Restaurants, early numbers show that the lower portion price has been offset by higher foot traffic.
If this experiment does succeed, I don't think it will take too long for other casual-dining chains to follow Friday's lead. With smaller portions at lower prices, consumers are offered more choices and more control over what they eat. And from the restaurants' perspective, they have one more way to set their chains apart from the competition. Of course, only time will tell if Right Sizing is just an Atkins-style fad, or if it has supersized staying power.
For more on the state of casual and quick-serve restaurants, check out: