It seems as though the economic slowdown has hit the restaurant Biz here in Gotham City. This article from today's New York Times discusses the drop off in sales of $10,000 bottles of wine and $4,000 dinners. When will it end?!
Interesting article, Kyle. It's hard to know, is it recession or saturation? I tend to think that when faced with bugeting entertainment dollars, folks lean away from the "dining as theater" mindset toward genuine theater.
I think it's both the economic crunch and saturation. I think the two are directly related. The economic boom of the late 1990's meant more people with lots of money to spend. This meant more $10,000 bottles of wine being sold and more restaurants being opened to try and take advantage. Now that the economic bubble has burst restaurants are feeling the pinch. I agree with you about the "entertainment" value of dining out. Unless you are a bona fide food nut you are more likely to spend your entertainment budget on The Lion King and eat at home. One positive effect of the slowdown seems to be that Hoity Toity eateries in NYC are now willing to treat their customers as human beings in an effort to fill tables
The "New Economy" led to a lot of really ostentatious entertaining here in the Big Apple. Twenty-something millionaires tend to go for the big ticket, since they lack the taste and experience to judge true quality.
That may be over now, but a restaurant recession? I don't think so. I spent the weekend hanging out in Manhattan and I can report that Mulbery Street (Little Italy) was booming! The street was closed to traffic and every restaurant had the sidewalk filled with tables. Most had waiting lines.
The high-end places may be feeling it a little, but the mid-priced restaurants (I dropped about $150 on dinner for two) seem to be doing well.
Yep, everytime I go to the Manager's meeting, the bottom line is being discussed. It seems that the drop in sales is even more pronounced when compared with the boom of last year's sales. The entire hot kitchen has had their hours cut. It hasn't hit me in the pastry kitchen yet, although I have been given two warnings about working overtime. Thankfully, the kitchen is managed by a chef who is conscientious about the plight of the worker. So he tries hard to protect the worker and is doing everything he can to prevent layoffs and paycuts. Still, I think we are still in the slow season. If business does not pick up in one month, then I will be more convinced that the restaurant industry is experiencing a recession.
Enlightening article. Even if I was a millionaire I doubt I would buy a 10 000$ bottle of wine or a 4 000$ dinner. A restaurant recession? Maybe so. I tend to agree with Kyle, people do want to be treated nicely. Being polite and good manners are in. Then there is the economic slump and the stock market is going down. People are scared of another recession. What do they cut off first? Restaurant and theatre.
I love the doggie bags bit, what does an increase in doggie bag mean? People are more conscious of how they spend their money or simply refuse to throw away good food.? I must admit I am a doggie bag person, I love good leftovers! Anyone else take home doggie bag?
$1,0000 USD for wine? to drink? personally i think it belongs in a cellar as an investment.
Heh, $4,000 USD for a meal. Now thats quite pricey. Sounds almost like a fine dining establishment staffed the classical way. But if some wanker is going to foot the bill as a ostentatious way of saying "look at me!" so be it, - i'll take their money.
On the downside, i know exactly what you guys mean, recession wise - hours getting cut, the salaryman needs to do more hours, the casuals get less, staff whinge about tips and other things.
I must admit that the thing that is insulting is that the man wants the chef to work harder, keep the quality the same if not improve it, maintain hygiene and train staff, run the kitchen, do the cleaning, write and alter menus, et al all without a subsequent increase in pay or reasonable staffing levels either in the short or medium term.
I have not eaten there but I did go to a demo class with Max McCalman, The Head Cheese (sorry) at Artisanal and Picholine. He knows his stuff. He has more cheeses in his cave than most restaurants have wines.
It's interesting to see the ripple effects of the economic slowdown. What starts off as a layoff in Silicon Valley ends up as a prep cook lay off in New York. The upside, as a NYC restaurant patron, is that I can get into places that are other wise difficult and the treatment I receive is much improved. Am I enjoying the misery of others?
Max McCalman was a guest on Regina's Vegetarian Table a couple of years ago.
I think the show took place at Picholine. He presented a platter filled with an amazing assortment of cheeses and it was really fun to watch him describe each and every one of them with such grace and passion!
im sorry guys about that. It just astounds me to hear people paying $4,000 USD ($8,000 AUD) for a meal. I guess i just havent heard of such prices, and to be honest it seems ludicrously expensive. The price of the wine however, i can understand.
Back to to the bite thingy - what i mean are instances to the extreme, where standards are suppost to be the same but staffing is cut back to point it is almost impossible to achieve certain aims without sacrificing something/s.
The unfortunate things is that doing such is more reactionary rather than proactive to the point that customers are lost to lack of service and quality and to regaing that lost ground will take more than an economic boom.
It just saddens me a little to watch a potentially good business slowly go down the drain. Since i started, there has been a 50% loss of labour in the kitchen.
The private upscale club I worked at got hit last spring. Their limit was 25 golf outting for the summer months (plus they do many other parties) and they were (down right embarrasing to over hear) arrogant turning away other prospective businesses once the calender was booked. They turned up their nose to having a waiting list. Didn't take numbers or promise people they'd get them in next year, just blew off prospective business daily. The way a private club is set-up, they don't want to make a profit nor incur a loss because that rocks the boat for the owner/member who would have to pull money out of their pocket or get hit in gains on their taxes.
Anyway the first thing that hit before corporate America tightened it's belt and layed offed employees.....the big boys employee golf outting. Not that the average employee was invited to this $2,000. plus per person event, but the guy (the ceo is the member, but he has someone else book the party at his club) booking the party goes into "butt covering" mode pretty quick. All of the sudden investors look into the corporations books to figure out where they can cut spending. They hide every perk and scatter like cock roaches so quickly you can't believe!
So from 25 outtings booked in Jan. of 2001 we had 11 happen. More than a 50% hit!
But nothing changed with the REALLY RICH group, they hid out this summer, let some "slackers" go in their companies and rode the storm out. As soon as sun is predicted, they all be back golfing and smoking cubans. The money is still deep in their pockets, they just don't want to be noticed with it right now...
My take on the midwestern recession.....it really isn't (real stuff is happening on the coasts) but just in case were covered.