Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jan 24, 2008 09:15 AM

Economy and local restaurants

I have been reading other threads(Not About Food) describe slow downs in dining industry resulting in kitchens closing early,fewer wait staff, smaller menus. Husband and I eat out 2-3 week at neighborhood favs and I have not noticed much slow down especially on weekends. Are there gems to be found that usually were impossible to get into that now are easier to visit? The other posts mentioned higher end restaurants will be impacted although I believe the bay area scene with places like FL,Ritz Dining Room probably need a smaller niche of diners so perhaps no impact yet. What about the midprice range($15-30 entree) any slow down there? Most likely to survive restaurants are going to have to step up to the plate-no pun intended. Any thoughts or observations on local establishments?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I could be wrong but I think SF might be somewhat of an exception to the turn-down in the economy (for now any way). The economy is driven by tourism, has a high rate of local eaters from within and just outside the City (for lack of a better term).

    That said, I have noticed emptier places but that might be the recent rain and cold...even the freeways are less crowded past 7:30 p.m.

    The last economic dump, i.e., the dot com implosion, saw places close but not many well established places or ones that served good grub. What this downturn means is another deal.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ML8000

      Tourism is one of the first victims of any downturn in the economy, and locals are not immune to the job cuts coming down, many of them in high-tech and computer-related fields.

      I'd be nervous if I were Pat Kuleto, who's expecting his two new ventures to gross $10 million annually each in a market which is already over-saturated with top-dollar venues.

      1. re: Xiao Yang

        Yes, tourism is the usually first thing to drop in the economy most of the time.

        Given the dollar is absolutely sucking wind against the Euro and even the Canadian dollar, SF is a bargain and international visitors "should" continue to come to SF. How things actually play out, who knows.

        I mean, do international tourists go to places outside the norm (Ferry Bldg, North Beach, Union Sq, etc.)? Any way, if the hotels stay full that helps.

        1. re: ML8000

          We had dinner not long ago at La Folie and did notice that most diners that evening-not a weekend-were mostly international visitors.
          At the time, I did not think about the dollar conversion but now that you mention it that is a good point.

          1. re: foodseek

            Was the food any good? Where were you seated?

            1. re: SteveG

              It was our first time dining at La Folie and enjoyed the menu choices. I like vegetarian options and ordered 1st course goat cheese,pickled beets,walnuts frisee,2nd course -vegetable cannelloni (I remember it had cabbage),and cheese platter for dessert. The service was attentive and not overbearing but helpful with choices of wines and allowed us to set the pace for dinner which we appreciated. My husband raved about the seared foie gras with berries and the lamb loin with medjool dates. We sat in the front dining room against the wall. I liked the interior of the restaurant-initimate and one could communicate quietly and enjoy the meal. All around great time.

              1. re: foodseek


                La Folie
                2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

    2. Like ML8000 said, it will just clean out places that were not good enough for the price anyway.

      Boulette's Larder was on the news last night voicing concern about what this will mean to their business.

      Since the downturn is fairly recent, I don't think it has impacted the dining scene too much yet ... or not that I noticed ... hard to tell. As mentioned January is a slow month anyway ... one of the reasons DAT was spawned.

      1. Not to open a can of worms, but in San Francisco specifically, restaurants are hurting from Board of supervisor imposed regulations as well. It’s not easy (or even very profitable) running a restaurant in San Francisco. We have friends who started up and own a very successful and critically praised (including on this board) small restaurant in San Francisco. They work like maniacs and are barely making ends meet. It’s not just the economy that is squeezing restaurants in SF.