As I discussed in this post, I have good reason to believe that restaurant business is slowing. Not only were there some persistent rumors that Providence Prime was, and a number of other restaurant were, closing, on a recent visit to Prime, their menu has taken a turn for the, dare I say it, cheaper.
I mentioned that absolute head-count is only part of the story, it's the quality and profits derived from those crowds that can make the difference between open and closed. And if Providence Prime's increase in seating, at the cost of ultra-cushy booths, offering of cheaper, cured meats, panini, bar food (which is 50% off from 5-7pm daily), and $30 pricks-ficks menu, is any indication, the high-end places in RI are doing all they can to weather the storm.
These are dangerous times for a gourmet. Not only are our own budgets strained, but many of our favorite eateries might not be able to make it. Hell, even fast food is having a hard time. The $1 double-cheeseburger is causing litigation between BK corporate and its franchises. For October, McDonald's is flat (and that's considered outperforming), BK fell 4.6%, and Arby's plummeted 9%.
About the only one doing well is Chipotle. I assume it's because people can now more freely eat it thanks to Chipotle Away.