Baltimore-Washington restaurateurs are joining together to pool their buying power to bargain for lower food prices from vendors amid rising economic turmoil. Pulling together, they have formed a local chapter of the buying group, Dining Alliance.

Dining Alliance has over 1,800 members in Boston, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Upstate New York and has combined purchasing power of over $500 million.

Many local restaurants are tightening their operations, preparing for a rough 2009-2010. With foot traffic on the decline, rising food, and transportation costs, restaurant owners like Bill Hixon of Breadline are making sure they do everything they can to keep costs down.

“As an independent restaurant, we do not have the buying power that the chains have,” Hixon says. “The folks at the Dining Alliance are very knowledgeable and professional. They came in and taught me a lot about how to save money on my purchases. The products are the same products I have always bought so why wouldn’t I want to buy through their contracts and save money? I also like the idea that someone is watching the prices for me so I can focus on serving my customers better. It is a win-win situation for everyone.”

“Operators in Baltimore-Washington area have been very open and excited to band together for everyone’s benefit. We feed off this excitement from the local restaurants, and are already excited to say that after only a few months some members have seen savings of over $75,000. We make a commitment to our members that they will continue saving because we will audit our suppliers for our members with our state of the art auditing system. Even the large, national chains do not audit as well as Dining Alliance.” says John Davie, President of the Dining Alliance.

The goal for the chapter in 2009 is to have over 100 members. Some programs already offered in this area to members are a broadliner food program, manufacturer’s rebate program, payroll services, insurance program, credit card program, refuse consulting program, and office supplies program. Membership is free.