When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

04 February 2009

The recession and fine dining in NYC

Doc has asked for a "must-see" list for a short visit to New York City, and we hope to accommodate him soon.

To use Doc's terminology, the most perishable resource in NYC right now might be the fine-dining restaurant.

New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni:
Battered hard already by the recession and petrified of what’s to come, restaurants are talking sweet and reaching out in ways they didn’t six or even three months ago. They’re cutting special deals, adding little perks, relaxing demands and making an extra effort to be accessible.

They’ve seldom wanted you so bad, so they’ve rarely treated you so good. If you can still afford to dine out, you’re likely finding yourself enfolded in what the restaurateur Stephen Hanson— who recently closed two Manhattan restaurants, including Fiamma — describes as a big, tight embrace.

Predicting that “the consumer will just shut down” and that 2009 would be “a very, very tough year,” Mr. Hanson told peers at a conference in Manhattan last month, “You need to hug the customer.”

Trust me: the hugging had already begun.

I was feeling it regularly in restaurants where I was certain I hadn’t been recognized as a critic and where the “hello” from the host station sounded more like a “thank God.” I was feeling it on the telephone, as reservationists who couldn’t accommodate me one night veritably pleaded that I book another, or beseeched me for a callback number just in case a table suddenly opened.

And I wasn’t the only one.
Restaurants Stop Playing Hard To Get (Critic's Notebook, New York Times, 3 Feb 2009)

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