The managers of four Square restaurants have stopped serving sugar at their tables because of recent rising prices and customer hoarding.
Leslie Koe, manager of Hemisphere, said yesterday he reduced his weekly 100-pound sugar purchase by 75 per cent last month because "the price went up and is out of control and is going to continue out of control."
"When the price of a five-pound bag rose 20 cents during one week, that's when I said I don't want to buy sugar any more," Koe said. "When there are people who make as much as 120 per cent profit on sugar I don't think I should buy."
Koe said that his customers reacted "gratefully" to his decision to serve honey instead of sugar, and added that instead of losing business as he had expected, his restaurant might even have profited. "People know that honey is a fine substitute for sugar," Koe said.
Thomas Stephanian, owner of Tommy's Lunch, said yesterday that customer hoarding, compounded by the rising cost of sugar, forced him to remove the canisters from the counters two weeks ago and to ask his waiters to pour the customers' sugar.
"When I lose two to three sugar bowls a week, I think it's disgusting," Stephanian said. "And the Harvard-Yale weekend was the straw that broke the camel's back. People were just walking off with everything, cutting corners at every angle, and fighting like I don't know what."
At Barney's and Chez Dreyfus waiters bring sugar packets to the table only with the coffee. Managers in both restaurants said yesterday they took the action several weeks ago "to discourage thefts."
According to Harvard Food Services employees, a similar sugar panic has hit Harvard students. Joseph T. Beatty, acting assistant manager of the Dudley House dining room, said yesterday that packaged sugar has been placed next to the cash register so the cashier could limit the number of packets people take.
John P. Shaffer, a University cook, said yesterday that last Wednesday someone stole enough sugar from the Eliot House dining room "to last three or four weeks."
Frank J. Weissbecker, director of Food Services, said yesterday that although University sugar costs had risen by as much as 420 per cent since last year, the hoarding situation is not serious enough to merit a sugar boycott.
Food Services purchases approximately 250 100-pound bags of sugar and 1000 cases of 2000 packets each annually, he said.
Benjamin H. Walcott, assistant to the director of Food Services, said that the cost of sugar depends on the psychology of the market.
"The cost of sugar is due to supply and demand and the individual householders are beginning to buy less," Walcott said. "I think a year from now this will all be just an unhappy memory.