Frightening news for restaurant owners screamed out from The L.A. Times today in a story predicting that restaurant dining will continue to decline during the once bustling winter months. From company parties to broke couples ditching sushi for cheaper Mexican and Italian meals, the downward trend is set to continue just as it has through four consecutive quarters. Bellwether Food Group has found drops over 15% for upscale chains and scarily sees no rebound coming to restaurants until 2012.
After a suit from Denny's gets his say, we get words of endurance from local restaurant owners doing their best to weather winter like Tender Green's CEO Erik Oberholtzer, Patina boss Joachim Splichal, and Josiah Citrin of Cache. While Oberholtzer sees the hard times around us, Splichal is crafty as ever, detailing how his company called every person that canceled holiday parties last year and finding that "they were all on a tight budget," offered discounts and prix-fixe menus to bring their parties back. Wilshire and Cache have offered similar deals on holiday bookings, leading Josiah Citrin to figure "the holiday season will be decent but not great."
Survival should suffice for a brand new restaurant like Citrin's Cache. But with the traditionally fruitful winter season looking bleaker than ever and even restaurant analysts declaring that they've "never seen this type of a weakness for this long of a period," we have to wonder if the cold season might wipe out a few of our favorite places to eat.