Restaurant Industry Suddenly Tanks, Worst Plunge since the Beginning of the Financial Crisis

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Plunges like this only occur when something big is going on.

The restaurant industry has been unscathed by the economic slowdown. The meme is that Millennials like to spend their money on “experiences” – such as eating out, drinking at their favorite watering holes, and going places (and eating out) – rather than buying stuff, particularly stuff at brick-and-mortar stores.

These brick-and-mortar stores have been singing the blues of dismal sales, earnings warnings, layoffs, and store closings as consumers refuse to splurge. And to add insult to injury, consumers have been shifting their spending online. But the restaurant industry has been flying above the fray, benefiting from Millennials’ preference for “experiences.”

Or that was the meme. The National Restaurant Association just released its Restaurant Performance Index for December. And it suddenly plunged.

The RPI is a composite of the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index, both of which track restaurant operators’ responses on same-store sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures. “Steady-state level” is 100. Values above indicate expansion, values below indicate contraction. In the data series going back to 2003, the RPI has ranged from its peak of 103.5 in 2004 to its low 96.5 during the worst moment of the Financial Crisis.

“As a result of broad-based declines in both current situation and expectations indicators,” – as the report started out – the RPI for December fell to 99.7, from 101.3 in November and from 102.1 in October, 2.4% in two months, the worst two-month plunge since early 2008, at the cusp of the Financial Crisis.

The Current Situation Index dropped even more steeply, to 99.4 from 100.9 in November and 102.5 in October, 3.1% in two months, also the worst since the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

The Current Situation Index had hit an all-time high of 103.8 last July, at a time when the restaurant industry, while keeping a worried eye on the market turmoil and the slowdown, was still optimistic that restaurants were independent from it all, that Millennials would pull through, and that consumers in general were still hanging in there. Since then, the Current Situation Index has plummeted 4.2%, on par with the worst 5-month plunge during the Financial Crisis. Back then, the index started out at a lower point, from 102 in early 2007, dropped for two entire years, in all 6.3%, to hit 95.7 in early 2009, before edging back up.

So this is not a good sign. These kinds of plunges only occur when something big is going on.

“December’s RPI drop was due to declines in all eight of the current situation and expectations indicators, each of which fell by more than a full percentage point,” the report explained.

Same-store sales experienced a net decline year-over-year for “the first time in nearly three years,” with 43% of the restaurant operators reporting lower same-store sales, a ten-point deterioration from November, while 51% reported lower store traffic.

The one good thing was that the Expectation Index, when it dropped 1.6% from November, didn’t break through the 100-line in December. At 101.1, restaurant operators retained some optimism. But they’re always more optimistic about the expected conditions in the coming months; even during the Financial Crisis, the Expectation Index never dropped anywhere near as low as the Current Situation Index.

And yet, “elements of the economy remained uncertain toward the end of 2015,” as the report put it mildly, and the hopes for a year-over-year increase in sales plunged in December, after having already deteriorated in prior months. Only 27% of the restaurant operators expected a year-over-year sales increase, down 11 points from November, “the lowest level in more than six years.”

The restaurant industry in the US is huge: 14 million people work in it, or about 10% of all workers, according to the National Restaurant Association. With $709.2 billion in annual sales, the industry accounts for about 4% of GDP. It’s an important part of consumer spending, which makes up the biggest part of the US economy.

And it’s these consumers who’ll have to pull the US out of the mire because manufacturing, industrial production, and transportation are already in a recession and energy is in a depression.

But with announcements of corporate cost-cutting and mass layoffs gracing the headlines on a daily basis, some of these consumers, even Millennials, strung out as they already are, might be getting second thoughts about spending money they don’t have, on “experiences” they might not need, to pull the US economy out of whatever it is sinking into.

And these are the secondary effects of corporate cost-cutting now spreading through the economy. Read…  So Just How Bad is the Revenue and Earnings Recession?



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  63 comments for “Restaurant Industry Suddenly Tanks, Worst Plunge since the Beginning of the Financial Crisis

  1. OutLookingIn
    Feb 3, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    First goes manufacturing, then industrial production. Next, retail sales take a dive, followed by transportation. The bottom falls out of energy. And last but not least, people discover they just don’t have the discretionary income to dine out anymore and must start cooking their own meals when they get hungry!

    The proof is in the sales to inventory of gasoline. As inventories pile up, gasoline sales are slowing considerably. People just DON’T HAVE the money to travel and dine out anymore. They are staying close to home and hunkering down.

    They know something is horribly wrong with the economy and the country. The awakening has begun.

    • The truth
      Feb 5, 2016 at 1:43 am

      Truth

    • vince
      Feb 8, 2016 at 4:28 am

      Absolutely spot on comment.

    • Feb 28, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      “People just DON’T HAVE the money to travel and dine out anymore. They are staying close to home and hunkering down.”

      Oh… To me that sounds more like “business as usual” than that “something is horribly wrong with the economy and the country”.

  2. TheDona
    Feb 3, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Why is this a surprise? Too little money to spread around ever increasing number of venues, be it retail or restaurants. This is survival of the fittest to stay relevant and worthy of our shrinking dollars.

    My local restaurant managers and server friends said December was painfully slow and January not much better. However this last weekend saw a huge uptick as customers have paid off Christmas spending and are back to normal restaurant/bar spending habits. And yeah, it is way more fun to go have drinks with friends than purchase another stupid shirt that falls apart first washing.

    We are not “refusing to splurge”…the sad truth is we can not. Surely some of these CEO geniuses will finally figure out that their brilliant business strategy of cost cutting means we are forced to cost cut them out of what little disposable income we have left.

    Stay out of debt and vote with your pocket book People! It is the only control we have.

  3. Vespa P200E
    Feb 3, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Sounds like maybe canary in the coal mine for the economy slow down (or worse). I wonder how the #s will look for Jan (with Jan snow excuse) and especially compared to 2008.

    Many of the chain restaurants like Chilis, Applebee and even Denny’s closed around where I live in SF east bay recently and other chains like Corner Bakery my teenagers like said rent is too high in my neighborhood for them to expand.

    As for me – I use Ent book coupons and Groupon when they offer 20% off as restaurant food prices have really crept up in SF area in last couple of years except for family favorite Chinese and Japanese restaurants that offer excellent value (price/taste/portion) for lunches and early burd specials.

    • Petunia
      Feb 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      I am glad to hear the chains are finally saying enough and walking away from the high rents. I grew up in NYC where the rest of the country subsidizes the high rents. It is unfair that the middle of the country is paying the rent in NY and CA.

      • Feb 28, 2016 at 7:19 pm

        “It is unfair that the middle of the country is paying the rent in NY and CA.”

        How does that work?

  4. Paulo
    Feb 3, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    You can eat at home for less than 25% of what it costs to go out. Maybe only 10% Plus, the food is better. A big bonus is there are no cityits on their cell phones.

    When I was in my twenties with a young family, ‘eating out’ was not in the dictionary. It just didn’t happen. If you want a house paid for and wish to retire one day you better learn to say, “No.”

    We eat gourmet food at home if we wish to. Sometimes, my wife and I take turns surprising each other with something new and exotic. Tonight though, it is pub food. Fish and chips; cod that I caught and our own potatoes. The cod is thawing out as I write this. Instead of cole slaw we will have a caesar salad. I just saved $25-$30 and the food is better. No cell phones, either.

    • TheDona
      Feb 3, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Yes for home cooking! I am seeing Millennials who want to learn to cook not only healthier fare, but more upscale as well….Buerre Blanc is easy. And yes, the price is right! Leftovers to take to work is a plus.

      It pains me as to how the media pundits portrays the Millennial generation. They ridicule them on one side of their mouth and yet are depending on them to save the economy on the other side. This FUBARed economy is not their fault. They are navigating it in their own way. And they are at least savvy enough to understand that over priced, over hyped crap is not for them. The economy decision makers are too busy patting themselves on the back at Davos to see the changed reality in the economy. Masters of the Universe talk, take two: “Hey I can afford a 300M yacht,5 Gulf-streams, 2 Islands and 12 mansions….but I ponder before you other worthy Master of the Universe; why are Americans so angry? Those ingrates really need to lower their expectations?” {I misquoted but that is basically what they said}

      • Petunia
        Feb 3, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        I don’t see any of the millennials investing in the markets for a generation considering what they have seen. They won’t be investing in their junk or their wars. The best part is that they don’t even watch tv.

        • TheDona
          Feb 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm

          Gotta love the Wild Card they bring to the game. It is going to be fun to watch.

    • polecat
      Feb 3, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      yeah…eating out is highly over-rated. My family has come to the conclusion that in preparing home meals, the results taste much better, and is healthier via the ingredients used: at least we know what’s in the food, as opposed to nebulous restaurant dreck

      • Petunia
        Feb 3, 2016 at 3:09 pm

        You obviously don’t shop for meat in Florida. Over the last few years we have thrown out most of the beef we have purchased, not much to begin with, because we know it wasn’t beef. It has been terrible since the financial crisis started and hasn’t improved much. It is chicken most nights.

      • polecat
        Feb 3, 2016 at 3:11 pm

        Oh….as to the comment above re Our Davos Overlords…………..I think we’re gonna need to build a small fleet of ancient greek triremes to house all those snobbish global hob-nobbing elites…………..have them pull their own weight for a change,….. manning the oars!!!

      • Vespa P200E
        Feb 3, 2016 at 3:15 pm

        Yes we stock up on NY steak/tritip on sale for $4.99 and especially ribeye for $5.99 per lb. Sure the quality of steak isn’t as good as fancy restaurants but fraction of the cost since I heard that steak and seafood costs a lot more than chicken/pork and restaurants’ biggest margins are the pasta dishes. I splurge during business travels and it amazes me how much restaurants charge for scallops compared to the prices from Costco for giant scallops.

        What is worse in SF city is that they pass down the damn Obozocare cost by charging 4% more across the board in addition to sales tax plus tip.

        • Toddy
          Feb 4, 2016 at 4:34 pm

          Ribeye for 6 bucks in SF East Bay? Are you shopping Safeway? Because the meat stores I frequent (ostensibly their meat is humane and hormone free, albeit not grass fed), and I’m lucky if I can get it at $9.99/lb and usually it’s well north of $10/lb

        • Lee
          Feb 4, 2016 at 8:22 pm

          Wish we could get those prices in supermarkets here in Oz!!

          T-Bone steak: on sale for A$21 a kilo, Lamb mid loin chops reg price A$20.99 a kilo (When I moved here lamb was crap meat – cheaper than almost anything), chicken breasts: $8 a kilo, bacon A$11 a kilo on sale……………..

          Mid loin pork chops – on sale for A$16 a kilo.

  5. Mark
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Home cooking for my family is festival at home.
    My wife collected some really cool international cuisine recipes (Chinese, Indian, Thai, French, Italian etc.) and we do this on weekends. During the week slow cooker meals are just welcoming in cold Canada. Come home from work and hearty warm food is waiting, just salad and side dish and enjoy. Bottle of fine red comes handy too.
    Cheers.

  6. Saylor
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I work(ed) as a part time bar tender. Last year they kept me busy for my two shifts every week. This year, I’ve been called in once since the beginning of the year. And I’m only scheduled for three days in February.

    • TheDona
      Feb 3, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      What type of restaurant or bar? And what city?
      Sounds better to have them not schedule you than to have you come in and stand around for $1.85 and hour.

  7. Baboo
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Sandwich recipe

    2 Slices of bread, toasted on one side.
    1 tablespoon favorite condiment.

    Slather bread with condiment and konsume.

    Cost: pennies.

  8. TheDona
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Go to the big Asian markets for your meats. Wow, the selection is HUGE and the quality is incredible. Live Lobster is less than half the price at local supermarkets (yeah we splurge a couple times a year and cook in pressure cooker for 6 minute perfection). The beef is beautiful! The turnover is high so no spraying with preservatives to keep it “looking” fresh and tasting weird..

  9. TheDona
    Feb 3, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    On another note….Germany considers $5,450 limit on cash transactions….to combat money laundering so they say.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_GERMANY_CASH_LIMIT?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-02-03-06-58-46

    To keep a money run from happening I think.

    US banks already make me feel like a criminal if I want to take out cash approaching 10K. ( they always ask Why and I always tell them I am going to Vegas….NOT). Try transferring even minuscule amounts of money more than 3 times in a month and they freeze your account.

    The Davos Overlords (thanks Polecat) are already pushing for cashless society. Read or see movie: The Handmaid’s Tale by Carol Atwood where they can wipe out your financials at will.

    Keep cash, stay out of Debt and vote with your wallet. This is the only way we can survive this Globalization enslavement.

    • OutLookingIn
      Feb 3, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      It’s the “War On Cash”.
      They will always play the; “It’s for the war on drugs and money laundering. Or it’s the war on terrorists”, card. This is pure b***s**t.

      What TPTB want is more control. Specifically, control of ALL finances. Just think about it; Application to TPTB for your purchasing allotment plastic RFD chip implanted card. Tow the line or your cut off. And oh yah, the “freedom” for them to tax you at source at any rate they like. Slavery.

      • Toddy
        Feb 4, 2016 at 4:39 pm

        Zchash, for the win! Supposedly the only cryptocurrency this far that’s actually anonymous and decentralized.

        I hope this one makes it past the tipping point. To hell with Bitcoin and Altcoin. Neither of them are anonymous.

        • TheDona
          Feb 4, 2016 at 4:53 pm

          I have found that Mr. Jackson can get all sorts of anonymous stuff done…anywhere, anytime.

    • Bruce Adlam
      Feb 3, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      I agree.
      when I saw Obama tears over gun control how weak and that is the problem he is to weak to goven and now the usa and the world are paying a high price.
      The fed/banskers/and elite are running the show and are running it to the ground

      • TheDona
        Feb 3, 2016 at 6:15 pm

        They have always been running the show. Now they are just openly, gleefully rubbing it in our faces. And we are supposed to lick that dirt and be grateful.

        Oh and by the way…Us dirt eaters are not consuming enough dirt to keep the economy afloat. So please punish us further by taking away the rest of our meager savings by forcing us to play your rigged Casino games in the name of “saving for your own good”. And we point the finger at China???? Why are we still such Rubes?

        • Jonathan
          Feb 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm

          It’s The Matrix. So many are blinded by the current economic system and accept it despite the deck stacked enormously against them.

          The minds automatically rationalize away all the tremendous unfair advantages enjoyed by the financial elites. Ask them about how how someone born with a silver spoon can inherit billions doing no productive work whatsover and you will get stuff like “You are saying we should be stealing their money, that’s so wrong!” or “Why should we peasants care about all this crap?”

    • Mary
      Feb 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      It’s Margaret Atwood. A visionary literary figure. Quit reading Marketwatch and take a look at the great artists who tell us what the future will really look like. Atwood’s Maddaddam trilogy is a humane look at the not too distant future produced by bioengineering. Or read Kasuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, an immensely touching piece of speculative fiction about cloning.

      • chris hauser
        Feb 3, 2016 at 10:33 pm

        nice to see some intellect.

        the real weirdness is about twenty years away. i’ll be old and out of the way, i hope.

        thank you.

        • ERG
          Feb 4, 2016 at 7:02 am

          Just read “Brave New World” by Huxley and “1984” by Orwell. Our ‘future’ is already here and it’s in that range.

      • TheDona
        Feb 4, 2016 at 10:22 am

        Thanks for the correction Mary. Don’t know why I said Carol instead of Margaret. I love her writing! Have not read anything by Kasuo, so thanks for the tip.

  10. LG
    Feb 3, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Well I’d be shopping and buying a new car if I didn’t have to pay an extra 6k/year in my healtcare premium.

    • TheDona
      Feb 3, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      Say What? MSM says ACA is a huge success and unemployment is really low. We are all employed, happy, and covered by awesome health insurance.
      So go be a good American comrade and go into good wholesome debt and buy some stuff/services to support the economy.

      But wait….the actual numbers say otherwise. Lucy has some splaining to do.

  11. Jonas
    Feb 3, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    That’s a weird scale for an indicator, I’m more used to ‘above 50 means expansion’ and greater movement. Nevertheless, it looks dire. Wolf, do you know what methodology is used here, what is the error? Their website was vague on the topic.

    Another concern, if restaurants like that burrito chain with the food poisoning problem are over represented it might skew the results.

    But thanks for posting. The data points mount that we are entering a recession. My TSLA hedge is working beautifully.

    • Feb 3, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      Jonas, here is the report, which includes details on the different categories, etc. It does not disclose sampling error. It’s a diffusion index, and they come in a variety of scales.

      For example, the Markit PMIs use a scale centered on 50 (which you mentioned). Some Fed indices use a scale centered on zero, so you get negative and positive values. Others, like the RPI, use 100 as their center point of the scale. It works fine. And changes can be expressed in percent. So a 3-point move is called 3%.

      I have followed them for years. It has been on the mark, in good times and bad times. Look at the charts in the report.

      http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/News-Research/index/RPI-Dec2015.pdf

  12. Josap
    Feb 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    We go to one of the local mom & pop places about twice a month. Good food, not expensive. Don’t think we have been to a chain restaurant in years. It’s just the two of us and we don’t get crazy.
    Client dinners are what cost me a fortune. Nice places and drinks, the drink prices are insane.

    One reason there may be a boost this month & next is tax refunds. People usually splurge a bit, but most goes to debt or bills.

  13. Ptb
    Feb 3, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Just heard demographers claiming that kids were big on eating out most nights. Sounds like that’s now in the rear view mirror.

  14. Patrick Wilson
    Feb 3, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Debt, extremely high levels of debt, personal, corporate and government. eventually we all run out of other peoples money.

  15. Californiawoman
    Feb 3, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Have you seen the movie ‘Burnt’? Food in restaurants is now boiled in plastic. Nothing like ingesting a few bender gender hormones. That , plus the GMO issues make eating out equivalent to poisoning yourself.

  16. Brad
    Feb 3, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    What is so dire with all these approaching retracements: no eating out, no tchotchke shopping, less car driving, etc., is that our Capitalist system is predicated on exponential growth, when the civilian population cuts back on spending, the Fed now prints money to fill in the fiscal gap.

    I am 48 and the human population has doubled on this planet during that time, and as my grandparents lived into their late 90’s, I can say I am only half way through this journey. Do we really think that with exponential growth, which is required in the fractional banking and a fiat currency system the US has had since 1971 that the world has now adopted en masse, that the next 45 years must produce another 7 billion and then the next 45 years, another 14 billion more people to keep this system afloat: THIS TYPE OF CAPITALIST SYSTEM IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED. We all can sense this can’t work without retracement and debt clearance.

    Understand this, and this is the scariest thing of all. DERIVATIVES do not allow for depressions. A depression now, if allowed to run its course, will vaporize all the world’s wealth, and in a fractional system, one man’s debt is another man’s investment. Debt jubilees only work in a gold standard system. I truly fear the things the next 45 years will likely bring.

    I doubt the young boys born in freedom, running and playing along paths in the German villages in the 1880’s could have imagined as old men, that their last moments on earth would be looking into the faces of fascists holding guns to their heads. Economic hardship brought both world wars to bear. History that is forgotten sadly will be replayed.

    • Jason
      Feb 4, 2016 at 6:58 am

      Brad,

      What your talking about are soft limits, things like debt clearance. That’s just accounting gimmicks and watching imaginary numbers in a computer go up or down. That’s not the real limiting factor on expanding capitalism and the population. The real limiting factors are finite resources, peak mineral extraction, and possibly climate change. There is absolutely no amount of debt clearance that will fix anything when we’re at peak copper/iron/oil extraction. Furthermore westernization heavily encourages animal product consumption, which is likely the biggest culprit in climate change and pollution. Many, many large changes would be needed to even sustain the current population of the planet for much longer, let alone provide the right conditions for “growth.”

      • Toddy
        Feb 4, 2016 at 4:49 pm

        Amen. People forget that analysts and news sites including this blog are also predicated on people’s emotional attachment to being right and wanting to know what the future holds.

        Fact is, population growth continues, especially in China and India. This means of course increased consumption. So we will have a steep recession. But eventually, the spreadsheets everyone obsesses over will be rejiggered to make business possible and reduce capital flight, and one way or another, people will make things, engage in economic activity, etc… Until one day there is no clean water or a pandemic or an idiot tossing nukes or who knows what.

        And that might still be a long time away. Nobody will know until it happens.

      • bRAD
        Feb 4, 2016 at 8:59 pm

        Jason,
        I completely agree with what you have added, a very bleak picture indeed in all respects. The earth needs 2 things, a better system than one fueled by 1)greed and 2) perpetual population growth.

        • Feb 28, 2016 at 7:40 pm

          “The earth needs 2 things” etc.

          What is the second thing the earth needs?

      • Brad
        Feb 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm

        Jason, you may want to check out Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity page, though I am guessing you are more than likely well aquainted with it. It discusses all you encompassed in your response and more. Listen to his “Crash Course” ; it’s Youtube and four hours long, but it will change anyone’s perspective who believes this system can sustain.

    • d
      Feb 5, 2016 at 3:52 am

      I have been saying for over 35 years, this unsustainable consumer based model of capitalism, that requires and ever expanding population is long term untenable.

      Should I now be saying medium term untenable?

      But hey I am nuts, they say.

      • Feb 28, 2016 at 8:07 pm

        “Should I now be saying medium term untenable?”

        No, make it “short term”.

  17. Tuba
    Feb 4, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Economy? or Poor Service? Both?

    I wonder if there is any correlation between the plunge in numbers and the increase of poor service in restaurants due to the proliferation of smart phones and servers texting and facebooking during their shift and ignoring their customers. Managers are guilty as well.

    I have had several conversations with older experienced servers who comment that the new younger generation of servers have little or no concept of customer service, spend a lot of their time on their smart phones during their shift, and then wonder why they can’t make any money from their tables.

    Given households have less money to spend, all it takes is one or two consistant bad servers, and they are soured on the experience. Less money = the money is more valuable, and the customer who has had poor experiences figures “What am I paying for? to be ignored and abused? I would rather stay home.”

    How often have you noticed poor service when the restaurant is practically empty? My simple test: If I don’t see the bottom of my coffee cup, or my water glass stays filled, I have a good server. I have have to wait and wait and look for them, and wait again when trying to pay, odds are I will not go back to that restaurant for a long long time. They wasted my time and aggravated me.

  18. Al
    Feb 4, 2016 at 10:17 am

    All hail the oligarchs. They are dining comfortablely at Mesa while you and I eat hungryman dinners.

  19. ERG
    Feb 4, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Maybe it has something to do with $20 hamburgers and $10 bowls of soup? Looks to me like the waitress/bartender job extravaganza is over!

    • Jonathan
      Feb 5, 2016 at 3:17 am

      Restaurant food is incredibly overpriced in America. The kicker is the dumb masses are only beginning to figure this out.

      And screw the waiter middlemen, I will gladly take my own food to my table and fill my cup up, thank you very much.

  20. Mel
    Feb 4, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Wolf, thanks for the report text.

    I wonder about the details of that restaurant dining. I’m imagining dividing the industry into Experiential Dining and Industrial Lunch sectors. My reflex is to treat dining out as a luxury, and lots of it as an expression of wealth. I could be wrong in doing that.

    Just like there would be a floor under auto sales. In America, giving up the car, thus not being able to drive to work, might be the last thing someone does. Ditto, people might persist in lunch in the middle of the work day through some pretty tight times. A lot of that could make restaurant sales a catastrophic indicator — one that looks good, hiding a financial sinkhole growing underneath, right up until the crash.

    • TheDona
      Feb 4, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Pilgrim’s Pride closed it’s South Dallas processing plant in 2011, after a 25 year run, laying off 1,000. There were abut 6 or so Mom&Pop restaurants that had been there as long, plus a couple of fast food joints. Drove through the area for grins and it looks like a war zone. Everything in a 5 block radius is closed and has become dilapidated. That whole area needs to be bulldozed. For the more white collar jobs losses being posted recently, the local restaurant chains are going to be hit. Those restaurant chains chose the locations based on employee headcount.

      The fast food giants are in a battle of the cheapest: 5 items for $4 and so forth. Sounds like a race to the bottom. The “me too” places such as “Breastaurants” and wing places are seeing the hit because too many of them are located next door to each other. Why are there 6 wing places and 5 Breastaurants (Hooters overlap on both lists) within a half mile of each other in my area? The latecomers are starting to close within 2 years of opening. These closings are not related to employee layoffs in area…It is because of management blinded by it’s desire to grow, grow, grow.

      Multiple choice on why the industry is tanking: layoffs, poor choice on where to open a new store, less consumer income, too many venues offering the same thing, not updating the offerings…and so on.

  21. interesting
    Feb 4, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    since the first of the year i have seen massive price increases at every restaurant i frequent. this place i always went to had a lunch special of 9.99 and lunch for 2 was reasonable.

    well my son and i had lunch there yesterday and that same special is now 13.50 AND THE PORTIONS ARE NOTICEABLY much smaller. So in essence these people are shooting themselves in foot since we decided right then and there that we’re going to find some other place for lunch,

  22. Mike
    Feb 4, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    I’m okay with this article. However, at the end,

    But with announcements of corporate cost-cutting and mass layoffs gracing the headlines on a daily basis, some of these consumers, even Millennials, strung out as they already are, might be getting second thoughts about spending money they don’t have, on “experiences” they might not need, to pull the US economy out of whatever it is sinking into.

    You know what Richter, this currently maybe 10% of the workforce, but most of these jobs are shit. Have you ever busted your rear end in food service for minimum wage? Just because it’s ‘taking the economy down’ in your view doesn’t make it a bad thing. Put away your pride and build better jobs.

    Now I now that’s easier said than done, but let me tell you as someone’s who has worked in food service and then by the skin of my teeth made it through college to earn a shot at a ‘real’ job. Shrinking food service would be a good thing. Besides, humans waste so such damn food as it is.

    • Feb 5, 2016 at 12:27 am

      Mike, I go by “Wolf” not “Mr. Richter.”

      A few decades ago, during tough times, I worked at a Taco Bueno as “assistant manager.” It took me several years after that stint to be able to eat Mexican food again. It was a terrible job. It was hard, and the hours were eternal, and the grease was everywhere, but I was glad I had that job. So I understand that part.

      When there is demand, there will be supply. As long as people want to eat out, there will be places to do that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

      We may quibble over working conditions, split shifts, insufficient hours, pay, benefits, etc. But if Americans want to cut down the number of restaurants, all they have to do is stop eating out. And the restaurants will go away by themselves (along with the jobs). That happened in Tulsa where I lived during the last oil bust. It wasn’t a fun thing.

      • Mike
        Feb 5, 2016 at 1:27 am

        There’re some food service jobs that pay well, but most don’t. I know there’re some serves who make bank from tips. Again, very few do. Most of these food service jobs come from huge corporate firms such as Aramark, Kroger store’s deli department, sodexo, ect. They don’t pay well and companies don’t generally care. However, investors want cost low for marginal benefit.

        As far as assistant manager is concerned, well congrats; as assistant manager did you make more than min. wage, what hours did you work. I’m sure having to baby sit a bunch of food service works was not fun. I’ve been there too! yikes!

        What about working as non-management for years, decades at a time. This is what concerns me. Too many Americans fall into the trap of this pattern. Education or ownership of a home, business, car, so on becomes a distant reality. Somewhere when good paying jobs, ie. factory employment, dissapeared from the American workforce a lot of those jobs were replaced with low level food service employment.

        In your article you talk about how the young generation should become less concerned with experiences and more like the older generations. Go out and buy more crap form the stores and eat out! I can’t understand how a changing economy, which is not always going to yield a constant positive market, is a bad thing. America’s consumer will be ever-so-changing. if not, we’d all still be buying Dot-matrix printers & waiting from our spices to arrive by boat from India.

        I do thank you for your service and I’m so sorry for your loss in world of lesser pleasures that is called food service, but for some workers (like you stated in your article 10% of the workforce) that’s the best they can do with their lives. Of course people must take the first step to better their situation, but many fall into the trap because the work is always there for them despite the fact that food service and secure employment DO NOT go together well.

        So let it shrink, maybe then we will only be left with good places to eat. I mean— have you seen most places? America has become to addicted to crap food.

        I’m all in favor for the Experience of a nice meal out. Get dressed, pick up your date, have conversation, dance a little, and the rest of food service can be replaced with opportunity, which is a whole other issue.

        What really gets to me is that you were saying Millennials should focus less on “experience” and more on getting the economy back on track, and since food service is 10% of the workforce, we as consumers and subsequently workers should pull back from experiences in favor of past generational behaviors of consumption and spending.

        • Feb 5, 2016 at 1:53 am

          Mike, you’re confusing me….

          I think you misunderstood the article and my writing in general. It’s descriptive. It analyzes and describes what was there, is there now, or might be there in the future. I NEVER tell people what to do.

          You said: “In your article you talk about how the young generation should become less concerned with experiences and more like the older generations.”

          ===> “SHOULD become less concerned…” This tells me that you took this article the wrong way. I’m describing a situation and an interpretation of a situation. I would NEVER say millennials SHOULD do or be this or that. I don’t even think in those terms.

  23. merlin
    Feb 9, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    WOLF – The Spudder is still open in Tulsa last time I was there in 2015….

    • Feb 9, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Good to know. I love a good steak.

      But I don’t remember it. It probably opened after I left (2000).

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