TEMPE, AZ - To Michael Monti of Monti's La Casa Vieja Steakhouse in Tempe, the focaccia he serves is more than just bread.
"In my family's time here, we've always served some form of bread with meals," he said.
Family owned since 1954, a basket of free bread is what many patrons have come to expect. But lately the cost has become too much to handle.
"We started charging for [bread at] lunch a couple years ago because the cost was so high, that we'd be giving away our whole profit margin to put bread down at lunch."
Monti estimates his free bread service used to cost him upwards of $65-thousand dollars a year. Yikes!
And he's not alone. Eateries across the Valley and the nation have been cutting back on the freebies.
Jay Wisniewski with Caffe Boa and Wine Bar will serve you his special house bread, but for a five-dollar charge.
"We cannot absorb the bread charge anymore," said Wisniewski. "It was going upwards of $30-thousand plus a year just to have bread service for free."
Most people we asked walking along Mill Avenue were understanding but disappointed with the new trend.
"We like the free bread and the free chips, but it's not a deal breaker," said Ron Jones.
"I think it's a crying shame that America is in such a state that we have to go to that extent," said Debra Swindall.