Urban Herbivore

Will customers stomach price hikes at Urban Herbivore?

One day, many years from now, you'll be able to tell your kids you lived at a time when salad bowls were just $8.50. And then $9.50. Ah, the good old days.

But those says, indeed, are gone. Many disgruntled herbivores of late have stopped by their favourite vegan restaurant in search of a quick meal, only to find that the prices, again, have gone up. A salad or grain bowl at any of Urban Herbivore's three locations will now cost you $11 and change, plus an extra dollar for certain add-ins or substitutions (tempeh added to your salad for example, or quinoa instead of rice for your grain bowl). Such options used to be included in the price.

Now, I know what you're thinking; "This is news!? Any business with a good grasp on the market will up its prices if it thinks it can get away with it. Now go back to covering cupcakes..."

(Did I nail it?)

Yes, it's not entirely surprising that one of the best-reputed vegan spots in the city will try to test its loyalty with new pricing. But rather than explain it away with suggestions of expansion, development, or increased variety, Urban Herbivore has said that it is trying to manage increased cost, too.

"Well," says one kitchen staff member at the Kensington location. "It was a bunch of things. Minimum wage went up," she says, I believe referring to the increase from $9.50 to $10.25 in 2010 (perhaps Urban Herbivore is playing catch-up?). "But mostly, it was because the cost of food has gone up."

I was hoping to speak to a manager to hear about the price-hike decision first-hand, but was told he was busy. The kitchen staff member declined to give her name.

"Some of the ingredients are costing more, so in turn, we've had to raise our prices."

She couldn't provide more specific details on the strain of higher food costs, though I do know that the Consumer Price Index does show a steep increase in food cost from 2010 to 2011. So far, 2012 prices seem to have tapered off.

"Obviously no one wants to pay more," she says when I ask about the customer response to Urban Herbivore's new prices. "Some people really aren't happy about it, while others seem to understand." Judging from some of the comments on this page, more than a few Urban Herbivore customers are not too happy. She adds that the decision to tack on an extra cost for items previously included in the price was based on ordering trends. The less-requested ingredients, she says, were removed from the standard price.

Urban Herbivore was never cheap, per se, but it is unfortunate that the cost of eating healthy is evermore straining on the wallet. It is enough to steer me awry, into the warm embrace of a food court burger? We'll see next time I'm down to my last $10, and hoping for a bowl and drink for lunch.

Photo by josh.ev9 on Flickr

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