According to Nation’s Restaurant News, “as casual-dining chains heavily promote traffic-driving, low-cost meal deals in the midst of a consumer spending slump, the average prices of dinner entrées, desserts and bar beverages have actually jumped this year, a new study released Wednesday said.”

“Intellaprice, a Boston-based restaurant pricing consulting firm, found that overall menu pricing at casual-dining restaurants fell 0.6 percent this year, but that prices of dinner entrées, desserts and bar drinks increased 2.2 percent, 7 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, from the same time last year. The survey also found that the prices of side dishes rose about 8 percent. On the flip side, appetizer prices fell 2 percent in 2009, and the cost for add-ons, like cheese or extra proteins, declined 4 percent, the study found. The firm’s 2009 study, in its third year, compares year-over-year menu pricing as of July, and covers 14 casual-dining chains in 21 markets nationwide. Intellaprice would not identify the chains included. It said it tracked nearly 2,900 beverages and 13,000 food prices in its sample. In 2008, the same study indicated that overall casual-dining menu prices had increased 2 percent and bar beverages rose 5 percent over pricing in 2007,” the story said.

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