There are many loopholes as far as "restaurant regulations" Sadly, in these cases, intentional, obvious and blatant dodging of such laws, create much stricter (and sometimes unfair) regulations, for all restaurants. Many times large restaurant groups will intentionally become blatantly defiant, as a challenge for stricter laws, so they can really go to work (with their financial resources) and bury much of the smaller independent restaurants, in the neighborhood. Since Houston's seems like they are screaming "bring it" to the DOH, I believe they have a plan, for phase 2. It could be that they have strategic vision and think they are well-prepared in anticipating what the DOH will counter. Many times it is just scortched earth. The DOH may create the "Houstons" ammendment to the regulations, and in return Houston's may decide to say f it, and really morph into another concept, or leave NYC, temporarily, until the smaller restaurants fight "the good fight" to plead for mercy, just to spare their businesses. Many will not survive, because it is costly, time-consuming, and sometimes confusing work to accurately account calories and sodium, for a menu. Especially if you have little experience in such matters. Daily specials will be avoided, because it means tons of additional "paper" work, for smaller restaurants, who already struggle to keep up with the big boys.
It is a calculated smoke-screen to dodge focus from the real issues that many restaurants try to keep to themselves. The calorie and sodium counts, of many of their menu selections , are VERY VERY high, and sometimes very offensive. The food is so rich and creamy, for a reason. You get very thirsty, for a reason. The devil IS in the details, and the details would be a sobering shock to many of the patrons that eat certain menu items on a very regular basis, instead of a moderate basis. What you do not know CAN hurt you, but as long as so many people are happy not knowing that their dinner is supplying at LEAST a few days worth of calories, fat, and sodium at a single sitting, they are happy to block it from their mind, and live in denial...and these restaurant are happy they feel that way, and wish to continue statue quo.
I think the regulations are in response to some startling numbers, about some restaurant selections. Like over 2900 calories and 182 grams of fat, for a plate of Aussie Fries at Outback. It is good to enjoy yourself, but it is also good for some light to be shed of just how CRAZY it is really is getting, out there, in restaurants.
Some have ABSOLUTELY no clue. Many years ago, everyone smoked cigarettes, on television. It has very harmful health ramifications, and everyone is reminded of that fact, in the form of warnings on cigarette packaging, regulations against commercial advertising, taxes, public service announcements, etc.
In many cases obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension, is caused by uninformed patrons who are not privy to some of these numbers in the foods they eat. Many just chalk it up to these traits and diseases run in their family history, and they have NO way to prevent being effected by such conditions. That is not the case. Moderation and/or avoidance of constant consumption of copious amounts of certain foods, helps fight the battle against such diseases and conditions.
<message edited by CCinNJ on Mon, 12/22/08 3:59 AM>