smallplate_imageLet’s face it.  We all remember a time when plates were bigger.  Plates?  Yes, chances are you have been to a restaurant in the last month that featured a plate no bigger than a saucer.  And it had food on it.  The food portions have shrunk in the name of the small plate craze.  Gone are the days where you had a heaping pile of spaghetti on your plate that would actually allow you to ask for a take home box at the end of the meal.

Why has the culture changed?  This question could have any number of answers so with the ever changing dining out culture, let’s explore the possibilities.

Smaller plates save money

While purchasing smaller plates at home may save you money in food cost, (unless you like to see how high your food can go), this only translates to saving money dining out if you order less.  While many restaurants are not making as much of a percentage on the smaller plate (losing 10% more on average compared to a normal portion) it is up to the consumer to buy less in order to save money.

Many customers buy small plates to sample more of the menu at less cost.  However, restaurant owners must make up their losses in other spectrums.  Most owners believe that the smaller the plates the quicker the customers eat the faster the turnover.  In the end many restaurants are spending the same amount of money for chefs to produce less food per plate and are paying dishwashers more hours due to the increase in dirty dishes.

It keeps you healthier

There is no denying that taking in less calories is a good thing.  Many restaurants have shown that they benefit from having half and whole entrée choices.  By ordering a few small plates and a half glass of wine instead of a whole glass you have saved yourself from calorie overload but were able to sample more than one menu item.  Restaurant managers have noticed a drawback to the process however.  Servers, when recording the order, may write incorrect information leaving customers unhappy when a whole portion comes out after only asking for a half.

You’re too busy

We are all getting busier.  Going out to eat has become more nostalgic but in the event that you are in a schedule crunch you can order tapas style or a small plate and wine combination and be out the door in reasonable time.  No more worrying about waiting for the person across the table to finish their Chicken Parmesan.

The culture has changed in the foodie world.  Small is in.  Large is gone.  There will always be those places you hold dear.  Places where you can stretch your elbows on the table and without hitting your neighbor or spilling their four-ounce water.  There are reasons, valid reasons, for the culture to change however.  Health is always a conscious factor as well as the ability to share and enjoy in short amounts of time.  Plus who can ever be upset about saving money?