Last month's dismal numbers represented the fourth straight month of job cuts for the restaurant industry - something that hasn't happened in 45 years, according to the National Restaurant Association. While consumers have been cutting back on eating out as their discretionary income dries up, the industry has been able to mask some of the slumping performance through price increases, but even that couldn't hold a drop in sales revenue last month - the first backslide that the industry has seen in 17 years, according to the restaurant association.
Locally, we've seen restaurants trying new concepts and adding happy hours to get customers through the door. I can't think of a fine dining spot that doesn't have a happy hour menu. Blacksmith was one of the first in town to push its high-end happy hour, which it tied into the addition of a bar area. The restaurant has flirted with a nightclub experiment, converting to a bar and dance club after dinner on weekends, which it dubs Blacksmith After Dark.
One of the most interesting phenomenon has been the shuttering of white table cloths spots Blue Fish Bistro and Hans, only to see franchises and plastic fork establishments pop up in their former environs.
Of course not every restaurant that closes is a recession victim. We can think of a couple places so bad that only the most robust economy could keep them afloat. But there are others that will be missed, including the aforementioned Blue Fish and Hans. But with no end to the recession in sight, we image we'll see some more fall by the side of the road before the economy starts to pick up. Just this week, we heard that Celina's, which took over from Puerto Allegro on the east side, is calling it quits. We also heard that Demetri's, the only authentic Greek restaurant in town, has closed. And downtown, the Village Bar and Grill has packed it in just a little more than a year after taking over from the Grove. The new owners are going after a Vegas nightclub feel and have installed a DJ "cage" in the bar area. They're calling the new club Seven. Guess that sounds better than Village Bar and Grill After Hours... - REJ.