One of our favorite restaurants in town is The Grit (I can’t put a link because their website has mysteriously disappeared). I’ve mentioned the establishment and its spinoff cookbook many times on this blog; it is a place that serves meaty vegetarian food (and no, that’s not really an oxymoron — you’d have to try it to see what I mean) in an earthy Southern style of flavor and portions. Meaning: you get a plateful of comfort food that doesn’t break your budget. The restaurant has always had its minor irritations — such as no check-splitting and less-than-stellar service (ok, you might be a rock-star by night, but I don’t have a clue who you are, and right now you’re serving me lunch, so don’t act as if I came to your show and asked you if you could take a break from your guitar solo to refill my coffee. And I can say that because, while I’ve never been in a band, I have been a server, and it’s just not that hard to give people food without attitude). But the food was always comforting, filling, and worthy of an almost weekly take-out trip (the counter staff is usually very friendly) to feed my family dinner.
A couple weeks ago, we met some friends for Sunday brunch. I ordered a “Texas Toastwich” — egg and smoked gouda on thick pieces of Texas toast, and Tim ordered the special omelette. We complied with our usual m.o. — ate half of one entrée, then switched plates and finished up the rest. After cleaning my second plate, I still felt hungry. No matter, I thought; I’m still in my perpetually-ravenous post-partum phase, I must not have ordered enough food. But Sunday night, we decided to order take-out since we were returning home from holiday travels fairly close to dinnertime. The Grit has always been our standby; we usually order the Noodle Bowl of the day and one other entrée — this time, it was a veggie plate. The take-out noodle bowl comes in one of those paper cartons used at Chinese restaurants, and when I got home with our bag of food and opened up the carton, it was conspicuously only half-full. Strange, I thought. I pointed it out to Tim, and he, being Tim-like, picked up the phone and called them. Yes, they said, there is less noodle bowl in the noodle bowl — they had been giving too much for what it costs (about $7). Really? For 7 years (in our count), too much? This all of a sudden occurred to you? So we sat down to dinner (my veggie plate portions seemed small too, but who knows if it was a matter of expectations), and afterward, I had to visit my cupboard for a bowl of cereal.
Now, we have eaten at The Grit several times since I had my third child and became a virtual bottomless pit. And until the past two weeks, we’ve both been fully satisfied at the meal, and had leftovers to carry to another. Their historic portion-sizes are even touted on the back of the cookbook. But now? Now, we’d need to order three entreés just to feed 2 adults. This has the makings of a business disaster, in my opinion.
Yes, yes — we have the economic downturn to consider. Higher prices for their restaurant grocery bill, right? Fine, I say. Then charge me a dollar more for the noodle bowl. I have a feeling that might cover it, and I’d still have a full belly at the end of the day. But give me less food? When you’ve built your reputation on portions, that’s a dangerous move.
Since my blog has a readership of about five (I’ve gained two!) people, I’m not sure this call-to-action is going to pass under the eyes of those in power. But we need to do something! I’m not only fearing for my weekly chance to not cook dinner, I’m also concerned about the future of the restaurant. I’ve seen a really good restaurant, no — make that two really good restaurants — go down the tubes because of desperate money saving measures. Not The Grit!
What to do? Perhaps I should start hanging out downtown, going to shows at 2am, and pleading my case to all those uber-cool servers. Man, that set rocked. Reminds me of a noodle bowl I used to get…