Monday, February 16, 2009

An Observation on the Economy and SNJ Restaurants

The economy is in the pits. People are losing their jobs left and right, and there's less money for people to spend. Nothing new here.

But interestingly, I'm finding that restaurants in South Jersey are still drawing crowds as though it was the Roarin' 20's.

This past weekend, Valentine's Weekend, all restaurants I went in, walked by or passed on the road seemed to be bustling. Case in point: My lovely bride and I tried to go to Collingswood for dinner on a whim, no reservations. The Pop Shop was swarmed by families, Tortilla Press had no tables available for three hours, and virtually every restaurant window we glanced in had a full house. We wound up at Ponzio's and still waited a half hour. (Interestingly, the host commented that Cheesecake Factory up the road had a 2 hour, 45 minute wait... which I could actually believe.)

Then on Sunday night, we again went out on a whim, this time to Pietro's on Route 70. When we arrived there were scatterings of people enjoying their meals, but by the time we left, the place was packed and there were people waiting to be seated.

This trend is the opposite of what I would have thought... times are tough, let's stay in and save money. But in South Jersey that seems to be quite the contrary... perhaps it's more likely that people aren't going away on vacations but they still have some side money to spend so they go to restaurants instead and splurge a tad instead of a lot. Or they're saving money by not going to expensive Philly restaurants. I don't know. But whatever the case, I hope that restaurants do well while consumers are able to enjoy their time but not go broke doing so, since there's a lot of uncertainty floating out there.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months if the economy stays in the gutter. In the meantime, let's eat, drink, and be merry here in good ole SNJ...

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