State of the Plate
THE SKY IS FALLING, or so I hear. Folks keep telling me, “David, restaurants are closing right and left,” but when I ask for specifics—as in “Which restaurant recently closed?”—the response is “Well, I heard a lot of them are in trouble.” I’ve heard this, too, but I can’t tell you of any important closures. One local TV reporter presented a special feature on dire days in the eats biz and used a defunct East Village gelato shop as his case in point.
True, the times are ungenerous, but mankind—which includes us San Diegans—tends to take dinner seriously, and a restaurant table is a comfortable haven at the end of the day. From the consumer point of view, the current difficulties have persuaded some establishments to reduce prices or increase incentives, such as half-price wine nights. A few establishments are imitating the French by offering fixed-price dinners of two or three courses (sometimes inclusive of a glass of wine), an excellent idea that could sweep San Diego if restaurateurs made the effort. Such opportunities stretch disposable income and help eatery doors keep swinging. A foolish few have actually bumped up prices to try to compensate for the downturn in restaurant traffic. They may be among the first casualties.
It’s well to remember that when a soufflé collapses, disappointment is the result. But for all the huffing and puffing we’ve been hearing, San Diego’s brick-fronted restaurant row seems unlikely to be blown down.