Quiet Crisis in New York City Kitchens


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Beyond Quiet Dining Rooms, a Quiet Crisis in New York City Kitchens
By Amanda Hesser of The New York Times

…While small neighborhood restaurants have been thriving since the terrorist attacks, high-end restaurants all over the city have watched their businesses fall by as much as 50 percent. For many, that has meant layoffs, lower prices and promotions that they would have never imagined during the economic boom of recent years.

But deeper changes have taken hold, too: chefs are tiptoeing instead of swaggering, pulling back from experimental dishes and innovative menus, and not always reaching for the best ingredients. It may be a temporary reaction to quiet dining rooms, or a change for the long term — for now, nobody can say what the effect will be on New York's remarkable growth as a restaurant city. In recent years, the city was considered to have overtaken Paris as the culinary star of the world. Now, it looks like a town of timid and frightened cooks.

There is reason for restaurateurs to worry.

Last week, Peacock Alley in the Waldorf-Astoria closed for good. So did Virot, a promising new restaurant run by an acolyte of Jean- Georges Vongerichten. Daniel, perhaps New York's most revered restaurant, stopped serving lunch for lack of business. Charlie Palmer cut prices 10 to 15 percent at Alva, his casual restaurant in the Flatiron district. Abajour, an Upper East Side bistro, sent out 30,000 cards offering free dessert.

"There's no question that things weren't great before the disaster," said Mr. Di Spirito, the chef at Union Pacific. "The disaster just sort of sealed the deal."

For the full story, visit The New York Times. Don't wait too long, after seven days the articles are put into archive and you then have to pay to read them.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Did any of you see last night on 20/20 John Stosil (sorry, I don't know how to spell his last name) give me a break article. I thought he made some great points! Which applies to this article Isa brings up.

His point basicly was, we shouldn't have goverment bail outs for ANY industry. Were all hurting, how can you choose one industry to help and not another. Apparently everyone has their hand out now. But this country was built by entrepreneurs who made adjustments, who filled the gaps in.

My take is: I think there will be a lining of gold here under the changes and scares. It's a new day, a new adventure for restaurantiers! Make some changes, get out of your comfort zone! People are looking for more value and comfort (in the things they love) and food is DEFINATELY a comfort product!!!

Make what people want and people will come!
Joined Aug 14, 2000
I'll get an indication of how slow things are when I try to get a reservation at Craft today:)
Joined Mar 4, 2000
That's a good point, W. But as far as fine dining, I guess the trend is slowly starting to turn. But just as a counterpoint to all this, let me tell you that I have a friend coming to NYC today, and since Sunday, I have been trying to find a restaurant that can seat us before 10pm. They are all booked, and have been since at least Sunday, if not before. I called Montrachet, Danube, Union Sq., Nobu, Babbo, Aquavit, March, and others. They can't be hurting that much, if they're booked days in advance for a Thursday night!!
Joined May 1, 2001
I seldon dine out in NY (I liv about 50 miles North), but I can see why the lunch trade is down, especially in the lower part of Manhattan.

At a rough guess, there are about 70,00 fewer people working in lower Manhattan. There are NO tourists. Many of those who are still coming downtown to work have to pass so many checkpoints an take such roundabout routes to get to work thewre they are not much inclined.

I work at the New York Mercantil Exchange (the only occupied building in the World Fiancial center. Before 9/11, we had 18 or so good restaurants within a 5-minute walk. All are now closed. The nearest open restaurants are far enough away that even the members aren't going out much.

I HOPe things will get better as the mess down heare is cleaned up.
Joined May 26, 2001
Ah, but there are tourists, Dave; unfortunately, they are the equivalent of ghouls who just want to get as close as possible to the site, and have no particular interest in keeping local restos open. Maybe they'll go to the Popeye's on Chambers Street (which, btw, I am happy to have here).

I live 3 (fortunately very long) blocks from the former WTC, and the people I see in the nabe who are here just for "site-seeing" are not going to look for good eats here.

A few more local places supposedly opened recently, such as Kitchenette. I hope The Little Place also can re-open.


Joined Mar 13, 2008
Dammmm right.......

"but please don,t compare paris to NY ISA, Melbourne maybe"....lol
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