PHILADELPHIA — Philadelpers are increasingly willing to spend on food, but they don’t like to do so for the wrong reasons.
The number of restaurants in the city has exploded, and the cost of dining out has been skyrocketing.
The cost of a meal in Philadelphia this year has jumped by more than 80 percent since the beginning of 2018.
The average bill for a single meal is about $35,000.
The most expensive restaurant bill is a whopping $130,000, according to an analysis of city data by The Associated Press.
There are now 2,929 restaurants in Philadelphia, more than any other U.S. city.
More than 1,100 of those are owned by foreign companies, according a Reuters tally of data.
Some restaurateurs are not willing to give up their food.
They say they will keep feeding hungry customers, but some are concerned about the impact of increased regulations on their businesses and their livelihoods.
Many have said that while the city is still a city of restaurants, it needs to start catering to a larger audience, not just people who want to eat there.
“It’s just going to take a little bit more effort, but we have to start thinking of it as a restaurant that’s for the masses,” said Peter Wessel, president of the Greater Philadelphia Restaurant Association.
“We have to do it in a way that’s healthy, that’s not going to hurt our bottom line.”
Wessel says the industry is getting stronger and healthier, but there are also new rules for restaurants and food service workers that make it difficult for them to keep their business.
The rules are so restrictive that it is difficult for many to open new restaurants because they are not allowed to open more than six months after they receive their licenses, said James Peeples, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Federation of Restaurants.
The city has a restaurant licensing program, but it is only in place for the next few years, said Peebles.
“They’re going to have to get a little smarter about that.”
The latest round of rules, which went into effect this month, require restaurants to post on their website their general business plan, how much they charge and what their employees do for a living.
Restaurants must also post on a social media account, which can be viewed by the public, what they are charging for food, how they pay their employees and what kind of service they provide.
“There’s going to be more regulation, but you’ll also have to adapt,” said Wessel.
There will also be more restrictions on the type of food and drinks they serve.
The latest rules, if they go into effect, will also force restaurants to use a different brand name for each of their products, and require them to post their name on their websites and in social media posts.
The industry says the regulations are necessary because it doesn’t want to alienate its customers.
“If you want to be a successful business in Philadelphia … you have to serve the public,” said Preely.