Saturday, January 17, 2009

Getting Back to The Simple Things in Life...

The other day I did a posting about the Seven Deadly Sins and I spoke of the amazement I was seeing over the prices of certain restaurant fare. I continue to get articles sent to me on the crisis of the restaurant industry and interesting, it seems like the articles speak with forked tongue.

I read one interesting article on how Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse are down by by millions, sales plunging 18.5%, and they are deeply in debt (160.2 million dollars worth) following the purchase of Mitchell’s Seafood Restaurants. Piper Jaffrey has downgraded their stock to a sell from neutral. I wonder if they’ll be asking for a bailout next? Will they be offering a filet mignon to the American people as a trade off?

In New York, the famed Fiamma Restaurant and Ruby Foo’s have both been closed, and Steve Hanson, noted restaurateur, is also closing the Blue Water Grill in Chicago. He stated that the restaurants are feeling the pinch of Wall Street’s decline…

I wonder where Bernie Madoff will be eating dinner now? Perhaps they can open a branch in New York States Correctional System…that seems to be where most of their clientele is heading these days.

Chef Fabio Trabocchi, 34, of Fiamma, is now frantic, out of work, with a wife and two small children that he relocated from Washington DC to New York to take the job as “Top Chef.” He states, “To be very honest with you, there will be less and less opportunity for chefs to cook what they want,” he said. “The price point needs to be lower. People need to feel they can come back.”
“Everyone’s going to have to be more recession-friendly.” And this took the restaurant industry how long to figure out?????

Red Robin’s Gourmet Burgers are also feeling the pinch after they too were downgraded by Piper Jaffrey from a buy to neutral, after deciding, in an effort to cut costs, to stop advertising on national cable TV.

Then, I read an article by Steve Barnes in the Albany Times Union that says high priced eateries are not being affected by the current economic conditions. I believe we were all in a state of shock when the news of Enron hit too.

Hello…….Are you kidding, do you really expect that the restaurants mentioned in your article would tell the general public that they are experiencing difficulties?

On the other hand there are places that seem to be really trying to survive in these difficult economic times. Frank Minier, the restaurant owner of two Laguna Grilles, on Long Island is randomly selecting a table of guests in his restaurant and giving them their meal on the house (minus the tips and bar bill) as a way of thanking his patrons and encouraging them to come back.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good meal in a high end restaurant as much as the next person, I have Fiamma's Cookbook and I love it, but years ago, those places were designed for "special occasions." We have lost the art of looking forward to and working towards something. We have become a society of having what we want, when we want. Our children are suffering for it, they don't know how to take no for an answer. We have become in essence afraid of our children. We are failing radically at teaching them values, the need to struggle and save to achieve someting you want, and the ability to stand on their own to feet, when we are there to bail them out all the time. Are we following the governments example, or are they following ours? I hope it's time for a change...

We have all been living in an inflated world for so long, someone is trying to give us a message to stop, take a step back, smell the roses, enjoy nature, and learn to live within your means, and not the means afforded by living on credit.

What does this mean for all of us?

I for one, would like to see the Mom and Pops of the restaurant industry encouraged to come back in the arena. They will no longer have to compete with these large chains, will have an easier time of cost control, will make better, simpler food, that we have all come to know and love, at a price point that their peers can afford.

We have some very fine restaurants where I live, and the average cost of a main course in between $15.95 to $26.95, the average being on the lower end. The food is as good, if not better than many Manhattan eateries that I've been in, the portions twice the size, and they are still making a decent profit or they wouldn't still be open. Why should there be such a discrepancy in pricing (yes, I understand higher rents, etc) but greed also played a part. Our local restaurant owners don't usually fly private plans to their vacation spots...

For me, I hope it will mean that more people will read my blog and begin to enjoy the basics of cooking at home. I want them to realize that it’s easy to cook at home, much more affordable, and can become a family project, that will lend itself to years of happy memories for their children. I know that this Christmas, I just had two of my crew home, and yet we enjoyed ourselves immensely, working together to create a meal, that they will remember long after I’m gone.

To make a pot of chicken soup takes 15 minutes to assemble, and a few hours to simmer, yet you can freeze it and have three or four healthy meals from one episode of cooking. Make a pot of gravy with some meatballs (okay sauce, if you are one of those people), and you’ll get another 3-4 meals out of that. The real treat is, they will taste much more delicious that any food you’ve had at a restaurant because they will be “Cooked with Love” because cooking should always be “fun-damental.”

The beautiful photo of the Red-Bellied Woodpecker was again taken by our dear friend, Robert Smith, M.D.

No comments:

Post a Comment