A friend of mine and I were having dinner last night in a Vietnamese restaurant in Boston when he inadvertently told me exactly why restaurants are going to survive this recession...at least those that are doing a good job and offer value to the customer.

"Restaurants," he declared, "are my kitchen."

Brilliant - and so true!

Several generations have now been raised in this country that do not know about cooking. However, many of them are dedicated "foodies" - crazy about food, hip about dining out in the trendiest new places, eager to be the first to try some place new.

It's a massive shift from the world of their grandparents who were raised in an era when America sat down to supper each night, gathered around the family table, and had their evening meal together at home, cooked by "Mom."

Going out to eat was a special occasion thing, by and large. Oh, there were restaurants that accommodated those who actually did not cook for themselves on a daily basis - small, neighborhood or downtown business center operations, sometimes ethnic, moderately priced - that
provided for those too busy to cook or just not interested in doing so.
But eating away from home was not something most people did every single day. It was a different world.

Television in the 50's brought the advent of the "TV dinner" and eating together moved from the kitchen or the dining room to the living or family room where Mom, Dad and the kids watched TV and ate.

Today, restaurants of all types have become a necessity for the time-stressed, the "foodie," and those simply not interested in or most trained in how to cook for themselves. Restaurants are today's 'kitchens.' My guess is, those who adjust to the changes - and many are doing precisely that this year, will be here for a very long time!

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Comment by susan holaday on April 22, 2009 at 1:20pm
Danny Meyer puts it very well in a recent Union Square Cafe newsletter. He says "Recessions thrive on fear, glumness and 'dismality.' In contrast, the goods we sell and the value we offer are often felt by our guests as hope...An effective stimulus package is simply to send people back into the world feeling better when they leave us than when they arrived....it's the social aspect of dining out that people most crave - especially during otherwise challenging times. it's amazingly reassuring to be reminded that life goes on during recessions."
Comment by pubmaster on April 22, 2009 at 12:41pm
Not only do I know many people who can't cook, they are also proud of it.

We shall overcome

Comment by Andy Swingley on April 21, 2009 at 8:53am
Great post Susan and true. Times have changed and I know many friends who dine out more than 3 times a week despite the recession. Sometimes it is just a matter of necessity.

Those restaurants that handle their guests consistently well, most certainly will survive taking care of this kind of guest...there are a lot of them!




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