DC Restaurants – Recession Proof Or Not?

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‘Chairs and table’
courtesy of ‘emvii’

Tierney Plumb of the Washington Business Journal wrote up a pretty little article about the health of the restaurant industry that struck my fancy. According to the article, “on a national scale, 2008 and 2009 have been the most challenging years for the restaurant industry in several decades” Plumb reports despite a slow start to the year, “Restaurant operators have an improved outlook for sales growth, with 31 percent predicting higher sales in six months, up from 24 percent.”

Plumb goes on to quote a few DC restaurants, including Morton’s Steakhouse who said “July and August were good months for us.” Even the slow month of August was privvy to some major chef moves, opening announcements and major buzz around the DC foodie scene. On the flip side, others would disagree. One of my favorite WaPo writers and someone I respect very much, Going Out Guru Julia Beizer, wrote a brief article on the desolate Restaurant Week scene last week that began “Is it just me, or is it kind of deserted out there?”

As someone who dines out at least 5 to 6 times a week (truly, sometimes more) I have been a front-row observer to dining trend fluxes, and am of the view that DC has been mostly unaffected. In fact, I feel like (at least the places I tend to frequent mainly around Penn Quarter, Arlington and Dupont) are one place that I can’t see the recession. No one utters recession while standing on the rooftop patio at the W Hotel, it doesn’t even cross your mind. Restaurants are getting facelifts (701 I’m looking at you), there are all kinds of fun collaborations (sushi meets latin with Masa 14) and the Logan Circle/14th street area is exploding (hello, Eatonville!) and H Street is the new hot spot to open, um, anything having to do with food or drink. Places have been filled to the brim, and while I’ve seen a few closings as well, I’m not sure that’s because of a recession, I think it’s just because the restaurant industry is notoriously tough. But I can’t be everywhere, all the time, I’m only one girl and there’s only three meals in a day no matter how much I wish for more. So what do you think? Has the restaurant scene seemed lonely to you? Have you been staying in more? Or are you like me, loving DC’s isolation.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

2 thoughts on “DC Restaurants – Recession Proof Or Not?

  1. I went to Ray’s Classics (in Silver Spring) last Saturday and it was dead. A few restaurants in Dupont have closed (not good ones, but they closed nonetheless). I also think resturants are offering more specials and extending into lunch or brunch or both. Adams Morgan has tons of empty space. I don’t think I would say unaffected – less affected?

  2. Bring dinner back down to $30.09! As crazy as it may seem, it made a huge difference when they went up 5 bucks – combine that with a lousy RW experience at Vidalia, and I just didn’t bother this time. The fancy places hate RW anyway, so, screw ‘em.