As someone who works in the restaurant industry, I know that a big complaint among restaurant operators when I ask them about providing calorie information to their customers is simple: cost. You see, the traditional method that a restaurant would use to analyze their recipes typically involves sending samples of their food to a laboratory…a method that seems unimaginably inconvenient and is without a doubt expensive.
Nowadays, technology can do a lot of this work for us. You know all those lab samples that have been tested since the beginning of food science history? Well, someone at the USDA was smart enough to compile all those results into a database, so the world can now access these results without having to perform lab analysis upon lab analysis. As a result, nutrition analysis CAN be a lot more cost effective for restaurants through web-based services like MenuCalc.
Why do I bring this up here, on a consumer-facing blog? Well, because it affects you, as a diner at these restaurants. Personally, I simply do not accept the excuse that providing customers with calorie information is too expensive (especially when increasing research is showing that providing nutrition information is actually profitable for many restaurants!). One might say I am slightly biased, since I am employed by a company that provides this service. But I can honestly tell you, dear reader, that I believe (and have witnessed first-hand) that restaurant operators can and should work some form of nutrition analysis into their operational budget.
This brings me to Chili-Up, a two-location little place in San Francisco that I stumbled upon today while searching for a warm lunch.
I smiled in surprise when I saw the calorie postings right on the menu. I have no idea what method or company Chili-Up used to analyze their recipes, and I don’t care. I love that they did it and that they are providing it to their customers.
I ordered a regular “Hoofless Black Bean Mushroom” chili, served over yellow rice with red onion, cilantro, and cheddar cheese. The whole bowl (sans the cheese!) was 351 calories and contained 6g fat and 6g fiber.
I applaud Chili-Up, a small, independent dining establishment that doesn’t even have a website (check out their menu here) for providing nutrition information to their customers, and I personally would like to challenge my other frequent lunch joints to follow in Chili-Up’s example.
Are there any small restaurant locations in your area who provide nutrition information to their customers?