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Jan 23, 2009 08:11 AM

Recession hits the restaurant industry

Sad news from the Wall Street Journal:

They talk about Philly too, including a place called London Grill, which doesn't sound familiar to me. With a smaller customer base, I think the more unusual restaurants will need to become more mainstream to fill up. On the positive side, for the restaurants and customers that remain, the meals will be cheaper.

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  1. Wow, that is depressing. I tead the article and I did not know that the winter months were traditionally slow for restaurants. The cold weather makes me hungrier! I'd like to think that the only places that go under are the so-so ones, but life has taught me different. Maybe we could use our own "Rally Cry here in penna.

    1. I'm not surprised. Most of the people I know have cut down on eating out. When we go out - which we still do frequently, especially on weekends - we look for good food at reasonable prices. Fortunately, that's not hard to find in Philadelphia.

      London Grill is in the Fairmount section. We live in that region, and everyone I know stopped going there quite a while ago. At one time, it was the top restaurant around here.
      Maybe it has changed for the better. I'll wait for a Chowhound report.

      5 Replies
      1. re: sylviag

        I took Canadian friends there for brunch a few years ago and was thoroughly embarrassed. Undercooked Eggs Benedict with watery hollandaise on toasted slabs of bagel that were rock hard and impossible to cut. And the potatoes were cold. One only needs to have that one experience to not return. Its a shame because of its proximity to the Art Museum.

        1. re: Chefpaulo

          The only time I've ever been there, they served me my overdone hamburger on an English muffin (the menu had stated it'd be served on a brioche roll). That along with negligent service was enough of a turn-off to never bring me back.

          1. re: malkazanie

            I wouldn't be surprised if London Grill didn't make it. Food has been mediocre there for quite a while and they have a lot of stiff competition in that area particularly Brigid's. While we are sort of on the subject of restaurants going under, I read a post on the Florida board where someone was interested in starting a "dead pool" for restaurants that they think will close in 2009. Anyone interested in a Philly deadpool? Pick 5 to 10 restaurants in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties. We'd likely have to do it as part of a Google group or something like that as I don't think the mods here would take too kindly to cluttering up their board.

              1. re: Rondo

                i'm in, too. though definitely via a private google group or something. i would hate for our public predictions to become self-fulfilling prophecies!


        2. More news from the Inquirer: Discounts all around, Susanna Foo beginning delivery:

          5 Replies
          1. re: guanxi

            Due to the economy slowing down, why are there so many new expensive steak houses opening in Philly? I cannot imagine them doing well especially since so many companies are slashing their expense accounts. I'm still going out to eat but leaning more towards affordable BYOBS and making that steak at home.

            1. re: phillyjules

              I agree with you totally. It's just not possible to me to spend $35 to $40 just on a piece of beef, no matter how fabulous it is. I feel terrible for the servers at these high end spots. They must be taking a real cut in tips.

              1. re: the dog ate my homework

                I sure hope people aren't saving money by not tipping enough. If I don't have enough for a decent tip I don't go. But yeah, less people ordering less expensive stuff means less money for servers and that is really awful. I'd rather make my steak at home too though, when I eat out I want something I can't easily make at home.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  eek, me too! if you can't afford the tip you can't afford the meal!

                  my SO works at parc, and hasn't reported anything of this nature. however the sheer number of tables is way down. it's not entirely the recession's fault - they took a big hit when the weather turned cold and that huge outdoor section was rendered unusable. also, probably the novelty of a new starr place wore off quick with the opening of butcher & singer not long after.

                  on the small restaurant side of things - look at swallow & the drastic menu change... or root's quick opening and closing.

              2. re: phillyjules

                Planning for a large restaurant takes time. These decisions were probably made over two years ago. Sometimes pulling out will cost you more than continuing forward and failing. I am surprised that Starr went for replacing Striped Bass with an upscale steak house rather than something else, but maybe it was the easiest to switch over to.

                FWIW Rare in Doylestown has already failed, though it might have had something to do with an alleged under age drinking violation there. The sign on their store front says they plan to reopen in 2009 under new ownership.

            2. trend needs to turn to comfortable & affordable, philly has too many fine dining & "upscale" restaurants already. time for laid off sous chefs to open diners and give little pete's and melrose diner a run for their money. I'll eat there.