Small business set strategy for survival

For Leonard Mirabile, pleasing customers at his family owned Italian restaurants — Jasper's and Marco Polo Trattoria — has been the top priority. Mirabile takes pride in presenting a full plate of pasta or a hot sandwich at an affordable price.

That task is tougher these days as Mirabile and other local restaurateurs face the highest wholesale food price inflation in 27 years.

In June, Mirabile raised prices 3 percent across the board. Menus with new pricing were printed over a weekend and presented to customers the next week without a formal announcement. He changed the printed menu boards at Marco Polo's to chalkboards, making it easier to change prices again, if need be.

"We’ve been able to absorb cost increases longer than others because we own our building," Mirabile said. "We're watching the payroll, the lights, the air conditioning — things we watched before … (but) we're leaving everything else the way it is, including portion size. The worst thing a restaurant can do is cut its portions."

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