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Cheesecake Factory Debuts Bargain Small Plates

From Lisa Jennings of Nation's Restaurant News: CALABASAS HILLS, Calif. (April  23, 2009) The Cheesecake Factory, long known for serving guests heaping portions of its upscale-casual fare, is now rolling out a line of smaller-sized dishes at lower prices.

The new Small Plates & Snacks menu is designed as a “pre-appetizer” or to be combined with other dishes to make a meal, The Cheesecake Factory Inc. said Thursday. The offerings follow a growing restaurant industry trend toward smaller and less expensive menu options, as operators attempt to drive traffic at a time when customers are looking for greater value and more healthful options.

Cheesecake Factory’s new menu includes 16 dishes priced from $3.95 to $6.50 each, including beets with goat cheese, hand-battered onion rings, shrimp scampi crostini, ahi tartare, stuffed mushrooms or pizzettes.

“We have actually been developing our Small Plates & Snacks menu for quite some time; however, we thought now was the perfect time to introduce it to help make The Cheesecake Factory even more accessible to Americans looking for reasons to get out and celebrate,” said Mark Mears, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “But don’t let the name fool you, at The Cheesecake Factory we don’t do anything small.”

Others following a less-is-more strategy include Chili’s Grill & Bar, which introduced 10 menu items under $7 earlier this month, such as Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers, a half order of quesadillas or two mini beef burgers. The Brinker International chain also has promoted its Bites line of mini sandwiches for months.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing a new menu in Denver stores that includes a “Low Roller” selection of smaller, lower-priced items such as a vegetarian soup for $2.99 per cup; a single taco and soup for $4.65; and a side salad for $2.95 or $3.65 with chicken. FULL ARTICLE

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