Seeing as I work every day at putting equipment, tools and supplies in the hands of restaurant owners, managers, chefs and cooks, it’s only right that I eat out regularly and try new fare at local establishments. And it all makes me wonder, just how much is the economy itself the culprit of empty chairs and bare kitchens? The tried and true eateries are still quite busy. Popular chains still have wait times, and the $5 burger joint down the road? It’s always packed. If people can’t afford to go out and eat, I’m not seeing it to the extent that’s being reported at the national level. What I am seeing is the less-favored restaurants being forced to sink or swim.
Then again, maybe I’m secluded from overall reality. See, it’s not just the chains surviving ’round here, it’s the little guys as well. The locally-owned pizza shop down the road? It’s wall-to-wall packed when we stop for pickup. Funny, Domino’s seems to be delivering faster and faster these days, while delivery times at the local shops have increased.
There’s something else to think about, too. I live in an area that heavily relies on "snowbirds" during winter months. We’ve seen a significant decline of them this season, which is affecting some restaurants, but not all.
Is it that people are just being more selective? Even when forced to cut back and save more money, we still have the desire-nay, the need-to dine out. Perhaps we’re just seeking more bang-that is service, quality and tastiness-for our bucks.
Which brings me to my point. I believe that hard-working, dedicated owners, managers and staff, all of whom consistently offer "the goods", even if experiencing down-time, will prevail. I believe if you run a clean establishment with great wait staff serving up good-tasting food, you will succeed. For some of you, it’s going to take more heart, more dedication, and possibly even more money. It may even require a temporary closing, or restricted business hours. But when it’s all over, you’ll rise to the top and reap the ultimate rewards.