Everybody with a grocery list and a shopping cart knows how food costs have skyrocketed. The price of a loaf of bread (okay, a loaf of locally-baked, organic, whole grain bread) makes me actually gasp. Coffee? Unbelievable. Chicken that has been raised humanely costs an arm and a leg (apologies to the poultry). So of course the costs of running a restaurant have gone through the roof.

I sympathize.

But I am not going along with the program of lowering standards.

If you have a house specialty, e.g. the jalapeño cornbread at Zachary’s, that has become a beloved signature of your dining establishment, don’t mess with it! Cut corners somewhere else. Or cut down the portion size. Just don’t change the recipe and offer some lesser dish in its place.

I’m one of those consumers with such a strong loyalty to my favorite places, that I wouldn’t mind seeing prices raised a bit to cover costs — rather than substitute ingredients, or lower the quality of the overall product. Many restaurateurs have told me that patrons will not tolerate prices going up — but my experience tells me that patrons will be even angrier if the product quality goes down.

Times are going to be tough for a while longer. But life is short. Make the decisions you, and your conscience, (and your clientele) can live with.