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Dec 15, 2008 06:37 PM

How bad off is the restaurant industry?

I live in coastal NC and so this is always a quiet time of the year. But I'm not sure if I'm being overly paranoid or if there are really no people dining out anymore. We try to dine out once a week, always at an independent restaurant, never fast food, usually higher end. Lately we have had occasions where we are the only table in a restaurant! I see plenty of cars parked at the Applebee's and Texas Steak House type places, but I don't eat there so maybe the parking lot is deceiving and they are quiet as well. But certainly the quality restaurants around here are hurting. And I though we in NC were fairing relatively well in this horrid economy. What are other people experiencing around the country?

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  1. We were at a major shopping center today and decided to grab a quick bite at IHOP, which is usually packed crazy. Well, it was about 2/3 empty, so guess that says something.

    1. Judging from last night's dinner at upscale Greek restaurant in suburban SF Bay Area, couldn't tell there was a recession. Four of us were there to celebrate DD's 10th birthday & the place was packed to the gills. Hec, Sunday night and it was POURING! Surely our fine dining has curtailed to only special occasions. Then again...

      1. Several places I frequent have raised prices a little but still seem to be doing good business - but these are generally pretty cheap to begin with. My sister is a waitress in Austin and has seen her tips cut in half since summer through a combination of fewer customers and smaller checks.

        1. In the STL, the restaurant industry as a whole is hurting. I run a rest. Not a national chain, but the owner has several in this state, and in a couple others. We don't have a national chain finances behind us. I just had a sandwich shop close 2 weeks ago that was next door. Without details, what I can say is, food costs in general have gone up close to 40% since last spring. Combined with less traffic, and people paying more attention to what places have good specials advertised, it is a tough go right now. We need to have moderate price increases, the owner hasn't been on board with that, but is slowly starting to see the light. This company has had only 1 price increase in 5 1/2 years, so it is time. We can leave our price leaders alone, but seafood and other high-cost "specialty" items can handle a small price jump. And right now, the public understands. They may not like it, I don't as a customer sometimes, but I understand why. As long as we treat our guests right, they will still come. That is what bleeding restaurants need to look at now, change suppliers without hurting quality, or raise prices.

          1. Great question. This has been on my mind a lot lately as several places near where I live in the suburbs of Philly have locked their doors. Even the Ruby Tuesday's in our mall has gone dark with no sign or anything.