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With the economy the way it is, PLEASE support your favorite local restaurants!!!!!

It was with GREAT sadness today that I read that Grainbelt Grillhouse has closed it's doors. Yes, I know the whole "curse" thing of that location but it's more than that. Mike Thai is another perfect example. Great food, great owners, but the state of the economy did them in. If they're not a big chain, they're struggling. I'm sure there are many others.

My BF and I were at Grainbelt about a month ago and the owner, Michael Savoie had expressed his concern but the news still came as a shock to us. Michael is a great Restaurateur, he was the "brain child" behind Blue Adobe Grill (which has seriously gone down hill since he left) and I am sure we haven't seen the last of him.

Don't let your favorite be next, get out there and eat!!

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  1. With the profit margins being so slim on most restos, supporting your local purveyors is always a good idea. Thanks for the reminder, aztami.

    1. We also have been making a point to go to independents even more than usual. Most of our local favorites seem to be doing just fine, but there is one place that is visably suffering (not the service or food, just the number of customers) and we've made it our mission to go there more and bring people with us when feasible.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Janet from Richmond

        I doubt if my once a week eating out will help, but you have put up a good thought aztami.

        All the more reason not to bother with restaurants and owners and managers and servers who aren't welcoming and gracious and kind and to patronize those who are.

      2. I am a very rare ice cream eater, but when it gets really hot and humid here, as it is this week (87 and 100% humidity), I get the craving, so we headed out yesterday to our favorite local, which is a good drive but worth it as it's so tasty. We rounded the corner and it was like someone smacked me in the face - the place is completely razed, gone, surrounded by construction fence. Probably building another stupid drugstore or starbucks. I was so shocked I could hardly continue driving! What a bummer! The only other local place by us is a custard joint and I don't like frozen custard, so no ice cream for me. Rats!

        I felt bad we didn't go more, but I do all I can to support locals, who knows what happened. They were always steadily busy when I went.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rockandroller1

          Thank you so much for writing this post! Is no more important than ever to support local independant business, everyone is really struggling in my area. I saw an add from a local restaurant that said, "Eat or we both starve"....pretty telling. I work for an independant retailer and man o man are things slow. I think it is so important that we all do our part, not just for the business but for us.....we just may end up with one coffee shop, one record store, and nothing but chains to choose from....grim.
          Thanks for the reminder!

          1. re: bubbles4me

            I work for a family-owned (independent) retailer, and I can say from first-hand experience that times have been hard - or at least unpredictable. Local, independent restaurants, just like retailers, do need your support. Often chain restaurants have big money in the bank. Some local restaurants might not have any stored away.

            I love that sign though...I wonder if it brought business there up, or down?

        2. Aztami, I just watched a segment on the local news about how restaurants are struggling and trying to compete for business, talk about a timely post! I really worry that when the dust settles on this financial mess we're in (whenever that may be) that some of our favorite restaurants could be gone. That'll be very sad. We still eat out at small local restaurants at least once a week, usually twice. I don't know that my one or two meals a week will make or break them, but they sure are glad to see us and have our business.

          1. We went to one of local favorites last night and it was definitely slower than usual. We were there earlyish (6:30) but they seemed extremely happy to see us. The meal was great!

            1. YES ! and take along a friend.Help build on the customer base.One of the asides
              to the tight $$ situation,the overall check per visit is shrinking.A party of 2,one app to
              share,two mains,split dessert.This is a fact all the way up to our three stars in DC.The
              tables are sold ,but when checks shrink by more than 8% even modest price increases
              can't take up the slack.If prices increase substantially/quickly we stay home more often.It is so tough to sell the house at a profit.THANKS AZTAMI for a timely reminder

              2 Replies
              1. re: lcool

                i was just talking to a great local restaurateur about this issue. the avg check has shrunk, people are just not ordering that extra round of drinks, they are going with the least expensive mains, splitting more, skipping dessert & coffee. nevertheless he is so happy to see customers at all & is adding more mid-price menu items to appeal to folks on a tighter budget. it's really a good time to think about the places we value the most & make a point to patronize them at any/all opportunities. if you're gonna spend $10 at a chain place, why not go see what $10 can get you at the independent place next door?

                1. re: soupkitten

                  You have a very good point about the chains. I think there are a lot of people who have the mind set that it is cheaper to eat at the chains then at local independents. But in our experience, the chains are no bargain and often cost very close to what it would cost for us to eat at one of many independently owned restaurants in our general area that serve real food - food that not only feeds your stomach but your soul.

              2. Thanks for posting this! Last week while away for the holiday, we were anxious to visit our favorite local restaurant because the food is so good. There was a sign on the door saying that due to higher costs of everything, they are gone forever! I almost cried right there in the street.

                1. Yep.
                  I work at a nice small chain of highly successful restaurants. Our store is down $40,000 from last month. We're at no risk of losing our jobs, thanks to an owner that understands economy shifts, but we're a lot less busy. The rushes aren't lasting like they were. We used to have people standing in the lobby waiting to eat every night of the week. Now, just weekends.

                  I also hear people complain about the prices going up on things like fish. The gas prices affect everyone. Even if we're owned by a big company, there's no reason to keep the doors open if a profit isn't made.

                  1. I did that today. There is a little chinese restaurant that I used to go to with a friend, who has since moved out of town. I was heading to Jack in the Box for a taco fix (I know, so wrong!) but as I drove by this place, at lunchtime, I see no cars in front, so I turned around and got a lunch special, to go. And I tipped. It saddens me when I like a place and then go back and it has shut down. That happens a lot here in Houston, anyway, but it is getting even worse.

                    One thing I have to point out though is the fact that not all chain places are really part of the chain. There was a sandwich shop I liked, just down the street, but it just didn't make it, and was part of a chain. When I went to the website looking for another one, close by, there weren't any. The I stumbled upon one that wasn't too far away. I asked them why they weren't on the site, and they dropped out of the chain. The owner didn't agree with the price increases the franchise imposed, so somehow he bought it out and now it is an independent place, and his prices didn't go up, either. He was allowed to keep the name, just add a couple words to it. So I go there. It pays to ask, or look at the website. If it isn't on the site, then it is independent.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: danhole

                      It's true places are slower and people are scaling back, so here's what my friends and I are doing: We started to organize a big-group "field trip" each month to a local, independent restaurant. You can join a Meetup, or do this on your own.
                      I'm in charge of e-mailing everyone the time, date and place, and I get RSVPs. I call the place to let them know a big group (8, 10, whatever) is coming -- very important. We share wine, we all order entrees, and the restaurant fills some seats and makes good numbers for at least one night.
                      The by-product is that many in the group get turned on to new places or re-discover some old ones and then go back on their own, thus amplifying the business even more.

                      1. re: 1wino

                        I actually belong to a group of people that I met on the Texas Board, here, and we do that. Our fearless leader has us set up on Yahoo and ning. It's fun, and I get to try things I normally wouldn't.

                    2. It is really a major concern that this impact is being felt nationwide and is affecting local business more than chains. Where I am the large chains (Claim Jumper, Cheesecake Factory, Lucille's BBQ, Outback,etc. seem to be slower but not really hurting that much (hard to know for sure). BUT the local moderate to better restaurants and wine bars are hurting tremendously. It is also affecting specialty wine retailers. Traffic is off overall and the flow is unpredictable. I've spoken with servers and Sommeliers at some of the local upscale restos and they say evenings that were always busy are now sometimes slow. One local restaurant that has one of the largest and best 'better' wine lists in the entire area is now bringing in a moderately priced label that I'm sure they would never have considered before. The impact of this downturn/slowdown/recession is really a lot larger at the local level than even the ''shock-oriented meda" seems to be projecting.


                      1. do you mean local, as opposed to chain?

                        after much mulling that is the only thing i can figure.

                        1. I never support chain restaurants, especially the larger ones. I don't like generic souless food, plus a I am a firm believer in mom and pop shops being the best. With that said I can assure you I will help spread the word as well, and always suggest the smaller family owned restaurants when my family and friends get together. My favorite being a certain one I know will close soon if more people don't realize what they are missing. They were given 4 stars in the local paper as a rating, yet the parking lot is always near deserted, meanwhile the lines at Olive Garden are out the door! It boggles my mind that people would rather pay $16 for crappy pasta with bagged sauce than pay $10 for a gourmet dinner a mile away.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                            Me, too. I cannot stand it when a place has no soul or love or passion. It is really reflected in the food. I do not support chain restaurants, either. We literally have no good restaurants where I live so I have no choice but to drive 3 hours to actually have a great meal. However, as I am a really good cook that is rarely necessary. Sometimes fora treat...When I cook I put all my heart into it. And I love restaurants that do the same. :-) If I were to eat out at a chain restaurant (not that that would happen but hypothetically) I would be spending my time wondering what I COULD have had elsewhere while eating fake "food".

                            No matter what the place is my requirements are soul, passion, quality, local and seasonal ingredients. Those are the places I support.

                            1. re: chefathome

                              amen my kindred. I am the person who does Thanksgiving and Christmas, Easter... etc because I am the one person who puts her heart and soul into what I make. Every family member counts on me to do this each year knowing full well they would never eat a meal like this in a restro, without paying $$$$. But I do ask that they bring a GOOD wine ( I give them an empty bottle and say THIS ONE) or a good dessert (but I don't eat dessert so I don't care if they bring twinkees..lol)

                          2. Being a saver, we can still afford to eat out like before, but of course how we save is doing those things that annoy restaurants… sharing entrees between the three of us, ordering “water” as our drinks, and not ordering appetizers or desserts, and tipping 15%, not more not less… but we’re out of there in less than 60 minutes. Plus my main motivator is that I need to lose weight but hate to cook, so not ordering so much food is sort of my compromise.

                            Now that the economy is taking a dip, I try to only go to those restaurants that appreciated my business despite my quirks. I don’t really care if those other snotty ones go out of business. I fully understand they aren’t in the charity business, but I also think they need to appreciate each one of their customers. I may not spend a lot of money there, but I also do things on the side to bring in more business. I post on yelp.com. I introduce friends to the restaurant. There was this one week when I brought two different families to Pasta Pomodoro who have never eaten there before – and the restaurants are all over the place. They, in turn, either brought their extended family members back or went back on their own. I didn’t spend my money, but I caused other people to spend theirs.

                            1. For a few months now we made the concious decision to no longer frequent places that hae more than 2 locations .... We have a small business and if we want to survive we need to put out the good word on this practice- now we know several couples who do the same thing...

                              1. It really depends on the establishment. Some places have such a huge mark up on what they're serving, it's hard to justify some of the price gouging going on. I find myself making an effort to go to the place who have kept reasonable prices and good quality without fluctuating over the years. I also try to support landmarks when I can. I'm increasingly turned off from ultra high end event dining, $4 pizza slices, and $1.25 bagels.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  you know, that is also true, there is a local family owned restaurant in NH about 30 miles from my house that is tremendously high priced for what you get. They are the only restaurant within 15 miles of another (very rural area) so they thought they could get away with it, and did for a while. Then a new restaurant opened about 3 miles from them... and they wondered why all of the sudden the dining room was vacant all the time.... gee... I wonder!

                                  They "adjusted" thier prices.