Tough times for restaurants?

Generally yes, but it really depends on the restaurant – and getting into the top spots around town can still be a challenge. Eater LA has been chronicling the scene with its resyfeed posts. Here the latest rundown:

A.O.C. -- 323 653 6359 -- 2 rings, sorry bought out for private party tonight

Comme Ca -- 323 782 1104 -- 2 rings, for two we have 6:15 or 9:30

Hungry Cat -- 323 462 2155 -- 2 rings, inside not until 9:30pm, outside available

Fraiche -- 310 839 6800 -- 2 rings, let's see, 5:30 or not until 9:30

Hatfield's -- 323 935 2977 -- 1 ring, tonight I have 6, 6:30 or 9pm

Doesn't look like a recession, though previous posts indicate just a bit more availability in the prized 7:30 to 8 p.m. slot. For now, the recession’s impact in L.A. is somewhat less severe than in NY, where so much of the financial services business has disintegrated. NYT critic Frank Bruni sizes up the situation:

New restaurants that, I think, would have been full or nearly full if they had opened a year or two years ago have open tables, empty seats. I don’t want to name them, because I don’t want to wrap them in prophecies of doom. But, yes, I’m struck by that. I’m even more struck by something else. With many restaurants, new and old, telephone conversations go down much, much differently than in the past.


I’ll cancel an 8:30 p.m. reservation, apologize and, hurrying to my next bit of business, start to hang up the phone. But the person on the other end of the line will be reluctant to let me go. “Was it the time that didn’t work for you?” one reservationist asked me recently. “Because I can do a half hour later. I can do a half earlier, too.” Another reservationist implored: “Can I schedule you for another evening?”

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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