As the nation still struggles to emerge from the Bush Recession and avoid a double-dip, we discover yet another industry suffering: restaurants (…and why, by the way, are my conservative friends hoping for a double-dip, exactly? They’re not rich, and they’re likely to end up in tents with the rest of us if we do double-dip. Are they that eager to see Obama and America fail???)
With consumers and businesses keeping a lid on expenses, more and more small and mid-size restaurants are throwing in their dish towels and closing up shop.
Southern California lost nearly a thousand more restaurants than it gained during the 12 months that ended in March, representing a net 2% drop that was twice the national average, according to the New York research firm NPD Group.
Nearly all the closings were among independently owned restaurants: small, family businesses that just couldn’t hold on as customers held back. Earlier in the year restaurants reported modest increases in business, but the jumps in sales were too little too late for many.
"We were going in reverse," said Ken Rausch, who last month made the wrenching decision to close his family’s 65-year-old San Gabriel Valley restaurant, Edward’s Steakhouse. The restaurant had weathered previous recessions, but this downturn drained the family’s resources — and showed few signs of letting up, Rausch said.
Other well-known haunts have also succumbed: Orso on 3rd Street near Robertson Boulevard, a trattoria popular with the entertainment crowd, closed last winter after a nearby movie studio laid off a big chunk of its employees; across the nation, Koo Koo Roo, Bennigan’s, Bakers Square, Tony Roma’s and other chains have shut dozens of locations.
Even in good times, the restaurant business is a difficult one. Many close simply because they fall out of fashion or favor, and most run on slim margins. But this downturn seems especially brutal.
We’ve lost a few in the south Chicagoland area, but many have survived, some developing creative ways to stay afloat. The Big Apple Pancake House in Chicago Heights opened its table tops to advertising.
I know: we eat too much in Chicago already. Still, it’s good to know that many places here have survived.
Still, nationwide, the trend is not good.
I’ll be George W., King of the "have-mores," is eating well, though.