When the going gets tough, independents get creative

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Casa Nueva in Athens, Ohio, recently faced an 11-percent increase in dairy costs and a 52-percent hike in wheat prices. Sunset Grill in Nashville, Tenn., and its sister restaurants Midtown Cafe and Cabana have absorbed a 20-percent increase in the price of bread, a tabletop staple. Meanwhile, J.J.'s Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., was hit by 15-percent price increases for imported cheeses and meats.

Restaurants face a daunting challenge of maintaining quality and a hea

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