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Mar 23, 2009 07:53 PM

Article in April 09 Gourmet about opening up an upscale restaurant during the recession

Just got my April '09 issue of Gourmet mag, saw the article about opening a high end or upscale restaurant during the recession and thought "they've got to be kidding". They talked about the John Dory, where somewhere else on CH someone commented they thought the John Dory wouldn't make it because their prices are too high for a recessionary time. They also mention Corton. Seems to me I saw Corton mentioned in a different publication in an article talking about the bargain of their fixed price menus.

It seems the opening paragraph talked about the challenge of opening a high end restaurant during these times, but that they were really filling up.

How could this be true with Wall Street loosing all sorts of jobs, as well the general poor economy.

Do people on here agree with me?

I was wondering how these types of restaurants are even staying afloat during this period. I live in Delaware and just visit NYC a few times a year and watch the restaurant scene from afar, but possibly people who live right in NYC have a better view of what's going on there.

I have seen more the Times talking about more lower end restaurants opening up these days, as compared to places like Corton.

Any comments from Chowhounders who live in New York, or in general?

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  1. The new kid on the block in Phoenix is a great higher end place called NOCA. The place opened late last summer and dinner for two with wine can run from $150 on up depending, which is pretty expensive for Phoenix. The place is packed. I was there a week ago last Saturday and there wasn't an empty seat in the house except on the patio and at the bar.

    I am a paycheck to paycheck guy, but I also know a great value, even at the higher end places. If people perceive a great value, they will spend the money. If a restaurant is thoughtful and has a solid business plan for operating in distressed times, they can be successful. But they have to be very careful.

    All of the pistons have to be churning in harmony (value, quality, customer service, etc.) for places to survive during a recession/depression. It is difficult, but it can be done.

    1. They are kidding themselves. I haven't seen the article, but I do know that restaurants that have never offered prix fixe menus have them now. And hundreds of restaurants are extending "Restaurant Week" through the end of the summer, if not the year.

      Whenever before could you get dinner at Le Cirque for $35?

      They're all looking over their shoulders. and nobody is making money.

      The small, neighborhood places where locals eat nightly will mostly make it, but even those are closing.

      Most of the people I know think there will be a big "correction" in the industry before this is over. There are just too many high end restaurants here for this economy to support all of them.

      1. Interesting mixed reviews. Obviously I think that article is a lot of hype. The article starts on page 18. I hope to hear more from other Chowhounders.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ItalianGirl

          As a chef who owns thier own business, I have 2 things to say. 1) Lets hope these restaurants have a HUGE amount of capital to keep them going, because when the city empties out this summer they have to stay open and 2) I think there are a lot of people who have yet to truly be affected by the economic downturn and are still dining out and looking for great places to eat and be seen.

          By the way, did anyone hear about the restaurant in New York that is offering free meals to those who lost thier money to Bernie Madoff. Ah what a interesting world we live in!