The last time restaurant owners experienced the type of devastation the last eighteen months have cast over the hospitality industry began on September 11, 2001 and also lasted for nearly eighteen months. These past eighteen months, however, were not sparked by a national disaster that occurred in a nanosecond and changed the way we looked at the world.
The great recession, as it has become known, stunned Americans as they watched their wealth disappear almost overnight. This changed their spending habits and caused many to redirect their once disposable income to savings accounts as they attempted to shore up monumental losses that changed lives.
For restaurants across the country customer spending changes – apparent by empty dining rooms once filled with credit card flinging regulars -prompted staff cutbacks, menu changes, implementation of cost controls, and the postponement of maintenance and remodel projects. For some owners who did not move quickly enough, financial disaster
But for the first time in the past 12 months, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Although many restaurants went out of business and shuttered their doors, optimistic operators with a dream, a concept and a cash reserve moved into many of the spaces that became vacant.
As recently as last week celebrity chefs David Burke and Charlie Trotter have both walked away from the
Nationally, restaurant openings stalled and closures increased. But the second quarter of the year looks more promising. There does seem to be brighter days ahead. And, many of the restaurants who tightened spending, implemented those often ignored cost controls, minimized staff and began developing creative, cost effective marketing are in a better position today than they were last year at this time.
In San Francisco, Light Soda, Inc. President Bob Shapiro claims to be busier than he has ever been.
“My phone never stops ringing from chefs and owners opening new places and needing equipment. I am just swamped with work. I think
“We have been busier than we expected, especially considering the weather,” Ounpamornchai said last week. “We are looking forward to spring so we can open our outdoor seating.”
And although the Queen Elizabeth only ordered 10,000, yes, 10,000 DeLuxe fruitcakes from the Collins Street Bakery this past Christmas, business for the 150 year old bakery in
There are a number of statistic highlighting the closings the industry experienced. But there is hope on the horizon as the shake out may be over and the industry becomes stronger because of the lessons learned over the past year.