Has the menu del dia had its chips? | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

The menu del dia may be on the verge of having its chips!
Dreamt up in the 1960s to attract tourists, Spain’s three-course “menu del dia”, or set lunch menu, has long been seen as the best deal in town.

But with inflation hovering around 10 percent, its affordability is under threat as restaurants seek ways to economise.

For a starter, main course and dessert or coffee (or both), bread and a drink, the average price is around 12.8 euros, according to figures from Hosteleria de Espana, Spain’s main hostelry association representing the hotel and restaurant industry.

Offered by almost every Spanish restaurant, its price makes it a popular option in a country where people frequently eat out.

Spanish restaurants serve up on average four million “menus del dia” every day in the country of 47 million people, the hostelry association says.

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The idea was first cooked up nearly six decades ago when Spain was under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
A ministerial order was issued that all restaurants must offer a “tourist menu” to cater to the growing waves of foreign visitors to the Spanish coast.

The decree was written into Spain’s official state bulletin, stating that the menu must from August 1, 1964 include, as a “minimum”, a soup, a main course, a dessert, a glass of wine and some bread. The tradition has lasted until today, where it acts as a sort of barometer for the Spanish economy, says Emilio Gallego, secretary-general of the hostelry association.

“It’s a very, very popular way of eating lunch with millions sold every day across the country. It’s something we are constantly tracking,” he said.

Describing itself as “extremely worried by the effects of inflation and the price rises of recent months,” the association found three-quarters of its restaurants had raised the price of their menu del dia between November 2021 and April 2022.
And that was before inflation peaked in July at 10.8 percent.

In recent months, the price of olive oil has risen by 42.5 percent alongside the cost of bread, milk, eggs, meat and pasta, not to mention the spiralling bills for electricity, refrigeration or gas for stoves and ovens.

With the industry “badly hit by rising energy and raw material costs at a time when it was still recovering from the health crisis”, it has had little choice but to raise prices, Gallego said.
In most cases, restaurants have raised the price of their menu del dia by 10 to 15 percent, an increase of between 1.0 and 1.5 euros, but where or rather when will it all end?