Restaurants Eye Growth Amid Drought

Amid signs of thawing consumer spending, U.S. restaurants are starting to walk a fine line between turning diners on with new lower-calorie dishes and tapas-style small plates and turning them off with creeping price increases.

The course change comes as cost-cutting opportunities dwindle and restaurants try to wean still-skittish diners off discounts and special offers.

“2009 was strictly cost-reduction focused. … It seems like there’s a transition” afoot, said Adam Werner, a director in the food service practice at advisory firm AlixPartners.

“The conversations we have are focused now on ‘How do we grow same-store sales?'”

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