The restaurant paradigm has shifted since the current economic miasma took effect in September 2008. Restaurants have had to adapt or go out of business. Many restaurants are going out of business.
Previously successful brand statements have seen significant losses and have turned to revamping their identity. The New York Times recently noted that “even restaurants that say they are doing fine…” have started adding “value meals with phrases that evoke the Great Depression.” Yet folks are still eating.
The lowest quintile of households spent 37.3% of household income on food while the highest only spent 6.6% (ERS.usda.gov). Married couples are still spending 40% of that dining out. But where are they going?
Somewhere between man’s fight or flight response lies an oasis. From the firstboulangerie in Paris in 1792 people have sought out restaurants for gustatory meditation. For peace, for a moment outside the “real” world, to allow the body to enjoy the fruits of the earth.
People are going to restaurants that make them feel good, and have a high perceived value for the plate. There is always going to be the need for the human animal to spend a little social time away from home.
In times of worry folks will go where their money is well earned and where the tradition of celebrating the bounty of the earth is kept alive by folks who understand that a restaurant is not merely a business.