Chef Paul Liebrandt's Royale of Rabbit with Black Bean Leaves on

* Is Your Business Currently

* How Much is Business
* Staffing

* How Many Times A Week
Do You Dine Out?

Sample Group:
* Sample Size
* Industry
* Consumers







Dining & The Economy
May 2008

The economy is woozy, but are diners losing their appetites? With an increasing number of dollars spent on food each year, and the growth of dining as a new national pastime, there’s no doubt that the restaurant industry will continue to boom…it just may do so a bit more quietly for a while.

We asked a sample group* comprised of various members of the restaurant industry (back and front of the house) from 44 states across the country, plus a group of consumers, about their business and their dining habits. It looks like business is down across the board, but only by a bit – between 10-20% was the most common response. 71% of diners say they’re dining out less, but only half are spending less.

Ultimately, we don’t forecast any significant impact on restaurants, nor have we heard many chefs express unease. If anything, it’s the ancillary segments of the industry that are more concerned: architects, manufacturers, PR, and so on. It may be trickier to get capital for a while, but one thing is for sure: diners are pouring their money into food in the country’s major markets in a steady stream, and the flow isn’t going to stop.

The Industry Says:

We asked if business is down, and over half (51%) of the industry says yes. 45% say business is down by 10-20%, and at the most extreme end of the spectrum, 6% have noticed a decline of over 50%.

Of the 64% of industry respondents that do catering, nearly half – 42% – say that catering business is down.

Is Your Business Currently Down?

By State:  
California  40% say yes
Florida  56% say yes
New York  67% say yes
Massachusetts 70% say yes
Texas  50% say yes

By Restaurant Type:  
Independent Fine Dining   57% say yes
Independent Upscale Casual   56% say yes
Independent Casual 47% say yes
Hotel Fine Dining  61% say yes
Hotel Upscale Casual  42% say yes

How Much is Business Down?

By State:

21% says less than 10%
58% says10-20%

22% says less than 10%
38% says 10-20%
19% says 21-30%

New York
12% says less than 10%
42% says 10-20%
21% says 21-30%
25% says 31-40%

27% says less than 10%
40% says 10-20%
33% says 21-30%

46% says less than 10%
38% says10-20%

Less than 10% 57% say yes
10%-20%  48%
21%-30%  18%
31%-40%  8%
greater than 50%  4%

42% of restaurants (nationally) have cut back on staff. Of those, nearly half (46%) have had to cut less than 10% of their staff, while 36% have cut 10-20% of their employees.

47% of all restaurants (nationally) say they’re short-staffed. Which positions are the toughest to fill? The most difficult hires (from most difficult to least) are line cooks, waitstaff, prep/garde mager and sous chefs.

Only 39% of industry respondents say that tips are down, and the majority (57%) of that group says they’re only down by 5-10%.

The Consumers Say:

41% of consumers are spending a chunk of their disposable income on dining out 2-3 times a week. That said, 71% say that in the current economic state, they are dining out less than usual, and 55% are spending less money per check average. In good news for waitstaff, the majority (78%) says they are not tipping any less.

How Many Times A Week Do You Dine Out?

Rarely 12%
1 27%
2-3   41%
4-5  14%
5+ 6%

*About the Sample Group:

Sample Size:
506 people
90% restaurant industry members
10% consumers

26% are from independent fine dining restaurants
23% are from independent upscale casual restaurants

36% serve breakfast
78% serve lunch

38% do less than 100 covers/day
23% do 100-200 covers/day
29% do 200+ covers/day

44% have an income of over $100k
16% have an income of $75-$100k
20% have an income of $50-$75k
20% have an income of less than $50k

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