Christopher Nelson Photography for The Bite of Seattle Brought to You by Comcast.
Eaters at the Bite of Seattle are supposed to graze, sampling items from a variety of vendors. But portions have grown so gargantuan in recent years that many event attendees have complained of filling up on a single serving.
"People want to taste a lot of stuff, but they'd end up with a huge bowl of noodles or a huge plate of strawberry shortcake," says spokesperson Cindy Stohr.
In response, the event this year has mandated its 50 participating restaurants provide a "Just a Bite" portion for $3.75, the ceiling price for dishes served in 1986, the year the festival relocated to Seattle Center. Restaurants are currently allowed to charge as much as $7 for a full-sized snack.
Bite of Seattle introduced the "Just a Bite" concept in 2009 with a collection of six restaurant booths offering smaller, cheaper portions.
Event organizers haven't dictated the size of "Just a Bite" bites. Stohr points out that restaurants serving salmon are likely to offer less generous portions than restaurants dishing up red beans and rice.
"The restaurants are excited about doing nicer items that would be too expensive to do in larger portions," Stohr says.
Restaurants are approaching the downsizing challenge in different ways, Stohr adds. While Ballard Brothers Seafood has opted to serve a smaller version of its featured item, so customers can choose between a blackened salmon sandwich and blackened salmon slider, other vendors have concocted side dishes to complement their main bites. Pico de Gallo is serving fish tacos and $3.75 fried mac-and-cheese squares.
According to results of the event's last professionally administered survey, a Bite of Seattle attendee visits 3.5 food booths on average. While that number is likely to increase as sample sizes decrease, Stohr doesn't anticipate longer-than-usual lines this weekend.
"I don't think it's going to be a concern," she says. "[The vendors] know how to go bam, bam, bam."