CHARLOTTE, NC- You could see menu changes and rising prices at some of your favorite Charlotte eateries.
It's expected to be a challenging year for the restaurant industry.
"It's definitely a time when you have to pay attention to what the market is saying to you," said Lisa Ballentine, owner of The Penguin Drive-In.
People are pinching pennies, so the 50 year old favorite in Plaza Midwood is serving up more deals.
"Do specials for kids, half off, buy one-get one appetizers. We do all that just to make it easier for people that are coming," said Ballentine.
Looking ahead, experts expect the costs of beef, pork and chicken to go up almost 10 percent over the next six months. That could force Charlotte restaurants to make more menu changes.
"You can't just thrown all these high prices on the menu, but you have to go a nickel here or a dime there just to stay in business," said Ballentine.
Owners of Queen City Q are also monitoring rising food costs. Instead of raising prices, they're offering deals to sports fans who bring in ticket stubs and employees of Uptown companies.They're also adding menu choices.
"Maybe we'll have smoked Korean short ribs one night and smoked duck another night," said Bryan Meredith, manager at The Queen City Q.
Social media helps them add a personal touch.
"People who say they're coming to town, we'll send them a message directly saying hey why don't you stop and give us a try while you're in town," said Meredith.
Experts say it will take that kind of creativity to stay afloat in 2013. Slicing employee hours is also part of the recipe for success.
"What people may not know is the restaurant industry is the largest employer in the United States, so we got to keep people coming back," said David Scott Peters, The Restaurant Expert.