Those of us in the Southeast have been experiencing a pretty bad drought over the last year. I'm in central NC, and Raleigh went last week to Stage 2 drought restrictions. They've never had to go to Stage 3 before, so the rules for who can do what (or not) under those conditions have not yet been written, but there is talk that those restrictions may include requiring restaurants to use disposable silverware and plates. ALL restaurants.
The NC Convention and Visitors Bureau recently held a meeting of hoteliers and restauranteurs to discuss voluntary water conservation methods. For restaurants, those include using floor cleaning fluids that don't require water, and using hand sanitizer instead of water for hand-washing.
I've noticed some restaurants in the area are also asking patrons who want a glass to water to agree to paying a nominal fee (17 cents, in the case of Tyler's in Durham) for bottled water instead of using tap water.
But water usage is going to rise as the weather heats up, and that's not going to be enough. I'm sure other places in the Southeast are facing similar issues.
I know restauranteurs sure don't want to get to the plastic-fork-and-paper-plate-stage, but if it does happen, would it affect your restaurant visits, especially among the higher-end establishments? It seems quite unfair to penalize restaurants for something they will be required to do, but something like this would also affect the overall experience of dining, most especially in a pricier establishment. For people like us, who don't have a lot of money and can only dine in the more expensive places on special occasions, it might, I'd have to admit. Burger-and-pizza places, not so much, but a 3-star place? I'd have to think about that. Maybe a lot.