The State of American Restaurants, by City: The Catastrophe of the Second Wave

Despite the rampant indoorification of outdoor dining.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The second wave of the Pandemic is gripping the restaurant business that had already been battered by the first wave. Given the exploding infection rates across the US, restaurants had to dial back their services, and in a number of cities even outdoor dining is now off-limits. And in many cities where it’s not off-limits, the winter weather makes it very difficult, despite the conceptually dubious indoorification of outdoor dining, with sidewalk buildings fashioned of plastic sheets, plexiglass, wood, and steel.

The number of “seated diners,” a daily measure OpenTable provides to track walk-ins and diners with reservations, has been dropping since the end of October, compared to the same weekday in the same week last year. At the end of October, the seven-day moving average of the number of seated diners across the US was down 40% from a year earlier. For the seven days through November 28, the number of seated diners was down by 56%, the lowest since early August. The reading of “-100%” in April, meaning essentially no seated diners due to the lockdowns, is once again playing out in some cities, and we’ll get to them in a moment:

The data on seated diners is based on a sample of 20,000 restaurants that shared the information with OpenTable, and includes walk-ins and diners with reservations.

Cities in the West and Hawaii:

Half of the six cities in the West and Hawaii for which OpenTable provides data have closed all sit-down dining in recent days, including outdoor dining, and the number of seated diners has collapsed by nearly 100% from a year ago to near-zero in Portland (yellow) and Seattle (red) starting November 18, and in Los Angeles, starting effectively November 26.

Since the “pause” in Los Angeles has been effective for only three days in this data, it is not yet fully reflected in the 7-day moving average, which is down 80% (green).

In San Diego (black line), the 7-day moving average of the number of seated diners has dropped from a reading of -27% at the end of October to -48% now. But Honolulu (purple) has shown a steady uptrend since its second lockdown in early September and is now at -71%.

In San Francisco, outdoor dining remains open, but indoor dining has been re-closed. Properly dressed folks can still tolerate a leisurely dinner on the sidewalk, as long as it’s not raining (but rainy season is inching further into the calendar). For those not wanting to sit in the cold wind or rain, the indoorification of outdoor dining at some restaurants provides relief. The number of seated diners (gray) is down 83% from a year ago:

Cities in the Southwest and in the Rockies.

In Denver, indoor dining was shut down on November 18. Outdoor dining is allowed. But OK, for example, this evening the temperature is forecast to drop to 25° F. Major indoorification would be required to make a leisurely dinner outside possible without the food freezing to the plates. The number of seated diners (red) is down 75% from a year ago.

At the high end, Las Vegas is under Nevada’s new limitations that allow restaurants to be open at a capacity of 25%, indoors and outdoors, with no more than four people per table. The number of seated diners in Las Vegas is down 32% (black) from a year ago.

Dallas, Phoenix, and Austin are clustered together, with seated diners down between 45% and 48% from a year ago. Houston is down 38%, the second highest, just below Las Vegas:

Cities in the South.

Louisville switched to outdoor dining only on November 20. Neither restaurants nor diners – and certainly not the weather, 38° F and rain in the forecast for tonight – were prepared for the switch. The number of seated diners collapsed by 88% from a year ago and from readings of around -50% a few weeks ago (red). Tampa is at the high end, with seated diners down just 19% from a year ago, followed by Miami (-27%):

Cities on the East Coast:

Renewed restrictions on indoor dining have been rippling across the cities on the East Coast. Hardest hit was Philadelphia where indoor dining ceased on November 20. Outdoor dining can continue. This caused the numbers of seated diners to plunge by 90% from a year ago (the highest reading had been at around -50% in early October). In Boston, the top of the batch, the number of seated diners was down 66% from a year ago:

Cities in the Midwest:

Minneapolis banned on-site consumption of anything indoors or outdoors, effective November 20, and the number of seated diners collapsed by 100% to zero. Chicago is under the Illinois order that banned indoor dining. The winter weather is largely banning outdoor dining. And the number of seated diners is down by 90%. Cincinnati is at the top, with seated diners down “only” 50%:

The restaurant business is tough and competitive, even during the Good Times. But during the Pandemic, restaurants are faced with previously unimaginable difficulties. Many of the restaurants that are still hanging on are hanging on only by a thread.

In late-September and October, the restaurant recovery got stuck at fairly low levels, with many restaurants already gone. Since then, the explosion of the infections across much of the US has unwound part of that recovery, back to where it had been in early August.

But in some cities, the “recovery” has been unwound to where it is revisiting the April-lockdown phase, with the restaurant business essentially shut down. Given the deterioration in recent days, and the ongoing surge of Covid, and the feared acceleration of infections following the holidays, many more restaurants will not make it through this phase.

People are massively striking out on their own. But new businesses with planned wages have been getting scarcer since 2007. Read… This Spike of New Businesses is a Doozie, on Several Levels

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  143 comments for “The State of American Restaurants, by City: The Catastrophe of the Second Wave

  1. josap says:

    Winter will kill off at least half of the dining options in the country. Take away worked in the spring, but fewer are willing to drive snowy roads in the winter. And it’s nice to cook at home while warming up the house.

    Az temps are ok for eating outside during the day, but too cold at night. We are supposed to be at 50% occupancy, but most go over the limit. With the virus case numbers spiking fewer are willing to go out at all. Many of the schools are closed while the bars are open.

    • raxadian says:

      Dude take away… tends to include delivery. Uber main business is basically becoming food delivery for a reason.

      No need to pick the food yourself if you are willing to pay extra.

      • josap says:

        We live in the city and can walk to 5 restaurants and a few fast food places. If we want to walk a few minutes more, more places to choose from. There are also 2 grocers within easy walking distance.

        Curbside or sidewalk pickup is available everywhere.

        • Cas127 says:

          What city do you live in where you have two grocers in easy walking distance?

          What are the names of the two grocers?

          I ask because your situation seems exceptionally rare…supermkt chains/Walmart almost never put their outlets this close together.

        • The artist formerly know as Marcus says:

          I can’t speak for josap, but I live in Philly and I have three grocers in easy walking distance plus lots of small intermediate shops (like a convenience store with some fresh fruits, veggies, etc). Plus a large city market that has multiple produce, meet, and grocery vendors.

        • josap says:

          I live in Phoenix. Near a light rail stop.
          We even have a very large used book seller on one of the corners.

        • Lee says:

          Does that walk include dodging the gangs, dopers, and homeless as well?

          One thing about Oz is that you can find very nice places to live with lots of stores around the place.

          The bad things are that no matter where you go, most of them will be the same and expensive.

          From my little place in high priced ‘paradise’ a 1 kilometer walk will take to to the village where you can find:

          two major grocery stores, six different bank branches, numerous real estate outfits (still closed), a post office, a couple of travel agents (closed), one baker now (one closed), a branch library (now open again), a couple of stand alone butchers (one with ridiculous prices), a huge number of beauty shops (how they all make money I don’t know), several barbers, clothes stores, and a wide variety of over priced eating establishments with IMO poor quality meals (Pub, Thai (not so bad), pizza (2 pizza only places), Vietnamese, charcoal chicken, numerous sit downs, a couple of burger joints ($15 for a burger type places), one fish and chips shop (avoid – uses frozen fish only), and even a Mexican place (tacos A$6 each), a couple of Chinese places as well (how they stay in business I don’t know), etc, etc, etc, a big chain booze shop, and a couple of smaller ones as well. Plus other retail shops too.

          Another 500 meters will take you to the train station and the local Micky D’s. Of course we also have a couple of gasoline stations (one next to the above Mc D’s) which are usually 10 to 15 cents a litre more expensive than stations a couple of kilomters away.

          If you want to buy a car you can go to the Lexus dealer which is next to the Jag and Land Rover dealer which are kitty corner from the main drag. Used cars too.

          And then another couple hundred meters up the road we have a couple of hospitals (one public (with emergency department) and one private), a TAFE (trades school) which is across from a unversity campus as well.

          Only one school within walking distance and that is a private one that charges between $A17,500 – $27,500 depending on the year.

          Again, all within a walking distance.

          If you go a little further up the road you’ll find a small shopping centre, more fast food places and the like.

          Going toward the city about 2 kilomters away you’ll find the Merc and Honda dealer and then the Toyota dealer with the new BMW showroom being completed next to it.

          About 4.5 kilometers away in the next suburb you’ll find a huge shopping centre and all the crap that comes with it including the city offices, main library (finally open after 8 months), and swimming pool. Around that train suburbs’s train station you’ll find the Indian gocery stores, Afghan butchers, more stores, etc, etc, etc.

          And a couple hundred meters from us we have a huge botanic park too along with numerous other green areas (reserves), and parks.

          So we have ‘it all’ here.


          We also have a total of ONE, yes, ONE homeless person that moves around the village area and village park area.

      • Morty Mc Mort says:

        Puke-Ber.. Sorry 80% of the time that our family orders take out from a Rest-In-Peace-O-Raunt (Tm)
        The food comes Cold or Hot.. (Hot food Cold, Cold food Hot)
        or the heat has caused major condensation so the food is soggy..
        and Gross.. or dried out..
        Sorry folks..way better and much cheaper to cook at home..

        • w says:

          Wow,Lee has it made-nice to live in That America,Many do Not!,I do have to have Exceptional situational awarenes just walking to pharmacy,grocery,,library,downtown area(what’s left of it).Weather and geography are big variables for many Americans.These restaurants are slow in adapting.They should become bodegas/liquorstores/ppe sellers as well as remain restaurants.They should sell different foods that are more profitable for their market.Maybe sell lots of specialtybaked items?

    • M says:

      In California, Governor Newsom’s latest prediction at his news conference today puts ICU beds at over 112% of capacity in December 2020 if current trends continue. Hopefully, there are other areas of the hospitals (with negative pressure so that the coronavirus can be kept within those areas and not infect other patients, e.g., those weak from recovering from heart attacks or appendicitis) where more ICU beds can be created.

      If that is not the case, and it is mathematically computable that continuing to ignore doctors’ pleading recommendations will lead to overwhelming of hospitals, California hospitals at least will be overwhelmed. That is when the real dying starts. That is when competent governors like Newsom will have no choice but to impose new lockdowns and definitely will shut down all restaurants, except for take-out restaurants.

      Imagine how it will be in states with less competent governors, i.e., most other states. Restaurants and all businesses that cannot be done via computer will be crushed in all of the states with local, exponential virus epidemics. There will be so many unnecessary deaths of people who could have survived if they had hunkered down until the vaccines were produced in sufficient quantities and distributed.

  2. Al Loco says:

    The higher prices associated with 1/2 volume coupled with smaller portions and lesser service isn’t helping. I could be delusional but I felt up to 2019, most restaurant experiences were positive. Interesting options, great food, great service ect. Now it’s the complete opposite. I almost always feel it wasn’t worth it. I don’t see an improvement in the near term. On a good note, a great steak is still reasonably priced if you cook it yourself.

    • Apple says:

      I’ve never been in restaurant that was in danger of exceeding its maximum capacity during the ‘good times’.

      • SwissBrit says:

        You must have pretty poor choice in restaurants then…

        • Harrold says:

          The typical Applebee’s is 5,500 sqft, with seating for 225, but I doubt the microwaves in the kitchen could keep pace for very long.

        • Thomas Roberts says:


          I’d have to agree with that. Near me, most of the best restaurants in the good times during peak times would be filled completely or close to it. Many fast food places though and some random good places would be scarcely filled and I would often wonder how they stay in business.

          As for restaurant pricing, it varies, alot of the low end places like McDonald’s keep raising their prices quite alot and many sit dow restaurants have not. I think some fast food places like McDonald’s are really pushing it.

      • rankinfile says:

        Sambos closed quite a while ago.

  3. Brady Boyd says:

    What depression?!?! Seattle Times says there will 24 new restaurants opening soon around Seattle.

    • Anthony A. says:

      Probably fake news to attract tourists….LOL!

      • JoAnn Leichliter says:

        Who wants to have that fine dining experience in Seattle, where food is accompanied by rioters getting in your face and stealing your wine or beer?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      There will be hundreds of new restaurants opening in Seattle after the Pandemic because most of the old restaurants will be gone. Landlords with empty spaces on their hands will cut the rents in order to fill those spaces, giving these new restaurants a lower cost. The great people in this business will restart in a new location, no problem. It’s people that make a restaurant successful, not the landlords. The landlords are disposable.

      • MCH says:

        It will take a little bit to get these open though as we have to potentially deal with “surge upon a surge” of C19 coming ahead that could “decimate the US.” So, need to limit to take out for a few more months.

        Actually, does Seattle also have a surplus of restaurants like SF did?

        Speaking of which, why is Santa Clara county have such high instance of infections.

        • Happy1 says:

          I no longer make predictions about COVID19 because I’ve been 50/50 since about May. But here are some facts to consider.

          The current case trajectory for the US as a whole is slightly down. It is quite likely that health care workers will start receiving vaccine within 6 weeks, and other high risk populations within 12 weeks. CDC estimates suggest as many as 100 million in the US are already antibody positive (53 million estimated positive by the end of September, 10-30% of the population depending on location, with tested positive case numbers almost doubling since then), and most of those people are by nature, the people who were at the highest risk for transmission.

          So while more surges are certainly possible, it might be time to consider the possibility that there could be lasting improvement within the next 6 months. And that maybe a surge that would “decimate” the country is a little less likely now than it was a few months ago.

          But I would not bet on anything.

      • Memento mori says:

        I keep an eye of restaurant and office opportunities for sale in San Diego area and can tell that listing prices are higher than pre-covid and no room for negotiation. Asset prices need to come down for economic growth to resume, but right now everything is as expensive as it has ever been although cash flow prospects are as bad as I remember for the industry.

        • Felix_47 says:

          I have noticed that as well in upscale suburban Los Angeles. You would think prices would follow cash flow but not here. I know a few local resauranteurs and they seem to not be hurting because they have laid off their overhead. But again…..a very upscale area. Any explanations?

        • Cas127 says:

          Yeah but the miracle of printing press interest rates keeps everything affordable…just don’t ever plan on selling or having to refinance…unless you believe the USD will survive ZIRP forever…in a world where other nations will provide a return on their currency and the US can’t.

        • Heinz says:

          Here in central Midwest the local media was noting small urban restaurants were struggling and even closing because their landlords were stiffing them with rent increases.

          But that was pre-COVID. After COVID is over will the small and boutique dining places stage a comeback? Probably not in huge numbers. Big restaurant chains may pick up any slack.

          Keep an eye on shrinkflation where you dine out also. Smart consumers already know companies (notably food/grocery product producers) have increased product prices per unit in a stealthy way.

          By cutting portion or weight sizes but keeping same packaging (and keeping retail price unchanged) they accomplish same goal as jacking up prices– increasing profit margins and reducing costs. Highly effective tactic.

        • Jon says:

          Real estate both CRE and Residential moves like a titanic with a snails pace.
          You’d need to wait up at-least a year to see some kind of deal.
          My common sense says that with half the economy shutdown, millions of people unemployed, and millions of permanent job losses, there is a doom coming unless Govt keeps printing money and giving it to people for free which is entirely possible.
          Even if the coronavirus goes away, we’d have precarious times because of past indulgences.

        • Werner A Hoermann says:

          Asset prices won’t come down, with all the money pumped into the system and no goods or services produced as a counterweight. What we are looking at is just a huge inflationary push.

      • Winston says:

        COVID-19, vaccine or not, isn’t going away any more than the common flu and is believed to be four times or more as contagious as the common flu. SARS-1 was controlled not with a vaccine, but due to the fact that it wasn’t nearly as contagious as SARS-CoV-2 and unlike with the latter, there was little to no asymptomatic spread, so a victim simply stayed home when symptomatic.

        Virus Expert Says COVID Will ‘Not Go Away’ and Could Be Around for ‘Rest of Our Lives’ – November 26, 2020

        A renowned Columbia University virus expert has warned COVID-19 is not going to go away and that life may never return to normal.

        Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, told Spanish newspaper El Pais in an interview published today that the public is likely to “live the rest of our lives with this virus.”

        He noted future generations will have to be vaccinated and those who have received the treatment will still need additional booster doses. “It is going to be a recurring problem. I don’t think life will ever be completely normal again,” Dr. Lipkin added.

        The scientist, who has spent decades researching microbes, pathogens and outbreak response, played a role assisting China during the 2003 SARS crisis, has advised Saudi Arabia on the MERS virus and was a consultant for the 2011 movie Contagion.

        • Heinz says:

          If history is prologue, COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) will eventually be defeated by herd immunity plus the evolution of that human virus into a tamer form, same as all the other pandemics in history.

          That is not to say it might not flicker up now and then in future with mutation changes like the flu. But it would be contained by evolutionary forces.

          In fact, the predominant form of SARS-CoV-2 bug today is ironically more infectious than original strain out of China, but is not as virulent (lethal)– that is a good recipe for quickening herd immunity. I would expect that trend to continue.

        • Harrold says:

          Yep, herd immunity worked for polio and smallpox, I don’t see why it won’t work for covid-19.

        • Sweden fired the epidemiologist who promoted “herd immunity”. In Mea Culpa the government admitted it let down the elders. Until human social behavior changes Covid will be with us. Would be ironic if the Covid vaccine is more effective than flu vaccine. Then we really have no idea how survivors of Covid will fare, there could be a new subclass of SSI disabled people. The new admin is working on a plan that spans child care to health care, because the same family members provide both. Call them second line responders.

        • lenert says:

          At the rate we’re going everyone in the US will be infected within 5 years. Wonder how many healthcare workers will be left by then.

        • Werner A Hoermann says:

          But think of all the money that will be made with the continuous vaccinations.

        • Happy1 says:

          A well coordinated vaccine campaign with an effective vaccine could essentially eliminate COVID19. It’s substantially less contagious than measles, and less contagious than mumps and rubella, all of which have largely been controlled by similar means.

          Of course no one knows how effective the vaccine will be. And there are always numbskulls who don’t vaccinate.

          And it would be a massive underestimation of human ingenuity to suggest that effective antiviral agents wouldn’t be developed if the disease persists, AIDS being an obvious example of a deathly plague that is now a manageable illness like diabetes.

        • Lee says:

          “At the rate we’re going everyone in the US will be infected within 5 years. Wonder how many healthcare workers will be left by then.”

          Probably 99.5% of them plus the new ones that go to school and graduate and join the workforce.

      • Big City Lib says:

        Landlords are choking this country to death. Healthcare wouldn’t be an issue if people weren’t spending $1k on rent and closer to $500 . Minimum wage increases wouldn’t be needed if housing costs didn’t skyrocket. Fast food could be cheaper if rent was cheaper.

        Tax cuts wouldn’t even be discussed if rents were cheaper. Less family businesses would have closed if they didn’t have high rent. People wouldn’t be discussing cancelling student debt if rents were cheaper and people could pay them off, and it didn’t prevent people from buying a house due to lack of income.

        If you’re conservative then you really want to landlords to not raise rent. Day care prices would be reduced if rent and land were cheaper. Churches could spend more money helping the community rather then paying building costs. People would have more to give because they’d have less money being toss to the landlord. People would dislike socialism if you really could pull yourself up by your own means with home ownership.

        High land prices and landlords are going to cause a turn to the left until it’s addressed

        • rankinfile says:

          Why do we have such a problem raising minimum wage when at every contract time we have no problem giving cops ,teachers,and firemen more every year?
          Some pensions for these people have COLA increases built in.Why not build it into the minimum wage?

      • Morty Mc Mort says:

        Wolf.. getting into a Risky Business.. (Hospitality) that has been shown to be at high risk of Government Edicts to Shut Down..
        Means that the Normal Capital Risks of opening a new business (Not Great) are now compounded by the risks of Shut Down at any time in the future… Would you invest in such a high risk low return venture???
        I can think of a number of better ways to Deploy Capital…

  4. Anthony A. says:

    Well, one thing for sure, these restaurants know how to set up to provide curbside take out. But that’s probably not enough business to keep many locations in business.

  5. Ron says:

    Lost job in March life partner business down 47% eating out not possible or feasible just going to get worse but as a country we have become soft our parents had it much worse during depression United we stand stay safe blessed be all get back to prioritize family

    • JoAnn Leichliter says:

      During the Depression, though, you might find a job and work, even though the odds weren’t good. Now, only the chosen few are allowed to do business in those cities which think–or want you to think–their situation is dire.

    • eWilham says:

      I was watching a documentary on the great depression and I think we have it a lot worse now. The main difference is we have covered it over with more welfare, more gov. spending, zirp, debt, forbearance, zombie corps, etc. We have already collapsed, we just haven’t realized it yet.

      We are going to wish for the living standard of the Great Depression.

      • Sierra7 says:

        During Great Depression there were no credit cards for the “commons”. And, very little societal support. That’s why there were so many soup lines.
        And, actual money was scarce. Very scarce.
        Today if we are in another “Great Depression” it’s pretty “cushy” compared to the life my family did back then.
        And so many “food support centers” give to people who drive up in their cars in most cases financed for thousands of dollars.
        I’m not knocking the unfortunate unemployed. Just stating that it was “different” back then.
        There was what was called “Relief”…but a pittance.
        For example:
        Produce wholesalers couldn’t sell a 250lb box of cabbage for 25c. Who had the 25c? Sometimes couldn’t give it away because it cost too much to haul to a retailer.
        And, to prove how tough it was for those who crossed half the country to come to CA, and actually saw huge piles of fresh oranges that couldn’t be sold set afire by the growers/packing houses rather than feed the traveling hungry. It is quite a story and well documented!
        It was really “tough times”.
        May we see better times!

      • Happy1 says:

        Are you nuts? 30% of the entire country was unemployed in 1932, we had a multiple month bank shutdown holiday, and people were literally starving. We probably have 15% unemployment by the same measures and the banks haven’t failed. It could and probably will get worse but if you think we are worse off now than in 1932 you need to read a little more.

  6. Joe in LA says:

    Jerome Powell would tell you that the best way to solve the restaurant problem is to pump more money out at the top.

    Predictably, many people with more money will hire private chefs for their families, thus offsetting a lot the job losses in the restaurant industry.

    We just have to let the miracle happen.

    • El Katz says:

      We have private chefs doing carry out in our area of Scottsdale. They put out a menu via social media, take the orders, and then you pick them up roadside. Food is very good. Not cheap, but it is good.

      Cash only. Shocking!

      • Cas127 says:

        “pick them up roadside”

        Don’t count on the immensely powerful local landlord lobbies let *that* go on too long, post Covid.

  7. Kasadour says:

    We went to Little Big Burger last night and i redeemed a coupon for a free burger -it was fantastic- but the place was empty.

    More than a few of my favorite Portland eateries are shuttered, and only one food cart (of 20 or so) on 11th and Alder was open. Maybe it’s the holiday weekend. Majority of restaurants here are bending over backwards to comply with the covid rules but I don’t see how these places can survive. If Flying Pie Pizza closes i’m going to cry. best. pizza. ever.

    • Douglas G James says:

      Of all times in history, you redeem a coupon for a free meal…when you ought to be doing the opposite. We’re losing the plot.

      • Kasadour says:

        the coupon at least it brought us in the place. we ended up getting two meals spending ~ $20. only my second time eating there- i’ll be a returning return customer. -fantastic little (big) burger. ketchup and fry sauce made locally too.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        If you buy food from a food truck that charges sit down restaurant prices (which is actually pretty common in SF Bay Area), then I don’t see a problem redeeming a coupon or two or three.

  8. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    In Portland, this is an extinction level event for restaurants. The oldest restaurant in town ( over 120 years in the same family) is getting ready to close. This is especially bad here, because in the last 15 years Portland had become something of a foody town, famous for reasonable innovative food and craft beer. Much of its inbound tourism was based on this dynamic, which may be gone by the end of the pandemic.

    • Kasadour says:

      don’t tell me it’s Higgins over on Jefferson. i love that place. one of the oldest restaurants in town and still using the original bar from the 1890s- they made a mean top-shelf margarita. I hope it’s not Higgins.

    • Jackson says:

      Is it Jake’s?

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      Well it’s impossible to rear truly free range chickens during a Pandemic, and we all know that Portlandians can’t eat any other types of chicken, so I guess expected? ;)

      • Kasadour says:

        His name was Colin. :-p

        • Fat Chewer. says:

          I hope you gave him a decent send-off. We salute you, Colin of the Free Range.

      • Cas127 says:

        “impossible to rear truly free range chickens during a Pandemic…”

        What with Covid and chicken rustlers, the lone prairie just ain’t what it used to be, cowpokes (er, pullet-pokes?)

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Perhaps its time for Social Distancing Chickens?

        Has a nice ring to it.

    • Island Teal says:

      Good comments…. Portland City leaders are killing it’s golden goose ?. By not addressing the protests for what they have been and continue to be they have driven many away. A riot is a riot and has turned into a non proccecuted excuse for vandalism.

    • d says:

      You’re not counting those of us who won’t go there because you’ve allowed violent rioting to occur nightly for months this year.

      And that impression will mean not going there forever. And not stopping if I’m forced to drive through there.

      You can’t fix stupid on that scale.

      • Kasadour says:

        no kidding. re: the vandalism of Hawthorne on Thanksgiving- nothing spells stupid quite like “protesting” colonizers that have been dead for more than 200 years.

  9. Petunia says:

    Just a few days ago saw an obituary of a restaurant owner whose restaurant we had dined in a few years ago. It was heartbreaking to see a man dead at 53. They said it was a heart attack, but I think it was really covid and I don’t mean the infection.

    • Old School says:

      I wonder if a lot of these small restaurant entrepreneurs have loans that are secured by their house.

      • roddy6667 says:

        That is very common in small businesses. They refinance their home to get startup cash. Or they refinance to throw good money after bad when the business starts to fail, and lose their home and life savings in the process.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          right on the money r2/3:
          Happened to a couple of friends who started their own businesses at about the same time, apparently, from what I heard from them due to the fact, quite common I read, that they did not know the difference between cash flow and net profit after taxes and all other expenses…
          I guess it’s pretty tempting to ignore that difference, and although I have always been willing to give most temptations a try or two, that one I was able to avoid with the help of a competent and honest accountant/RA who also advised me to stop taking every possible legal ”deduction” because I would not have enough SS…
          Which I did, and have done ever since so that my current challenge is the difference between the high and low liquidity balances.

  10. WES says:

    In the Great White North, demand for outdoor dining is increasing, caused by the expanding local polar bear population, with seal burgers number one on the menu!

    However, the local Polar Bear Association spokesbear said it would prefer to see the increased pressure for outdoor dining met by providing new drive in/take out services.

    “Hunting seals is very hard work and besides eating outdoors is a rather cold dining experience at this time of the year.”

  11. Paulo says:

    Tonight we dined on broiled coho salmon, roasted Russian fingerling potatoes with basil and other seasonings, steamed carrots with butter, and for desert frozen raspberries in cream. I did not have to wait for my drink. I knew where the bathroom was and it was clean.

    Cost? maybe 10 cents per serving for the hydro. Oh yeah, a few cents more for the cream. What would this cost at a restaurant? 40-50 dollars per plate? I caught the fish, we both grew the potatoes, carrots, and raspberries. No GM products, no additives.

    The point of this is that home cooked meals are simply better. Full stop. Cooking is really fun for a project person. We take turns.

    What I find amazing is the presentation at high end restaurants. Lots and lots of white plate showing off clever little squiggles and sprigs, and all the waiting you can stand. Talk about a scam. Leave hungry with light wallet. Big bar bill from waiting. Ouch.

    As someone said above, you can go to any store or butcher shop and pick out the finest steak and cook it at home for a fraction of the cost of a lesser meal in a restaurant. When this pandemic is over we’ll change up and have friends over for drinks and supper, and take turns and mix up attendees. Back and forth, every so often. Potlucks. Barbecues. Picnics. The music will be good. We can laugh as loud as we want, toast, tell jokes.

    My wife makes an amazing borscht. (Ah, my beautiful Ukrainian blonde.) Where can you get borscht other than at home. ?


    • andy says:

      Thank you for that. Do you not know there is hunger in Texas. Do you not watch the news. Record number of SUVs line up at food banks.

      • Mark says:

        Lines of $45,000 cars and $55,000 trucks on 7 year loans …..and hungry………winning ?

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          I agree. Have to admit, Americans are increasingly good at math. They know they can always rely on food banks and rent forbearance, that way they get to splurge on other stuff.

        • RightNYer says:

          MonkeyBusiness, I used to think you were a troll, but now I realize you’re unfortunately narrating a story about how sad and pathetic America has become

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Note that while USA has some serious challenges, no one other than ”not rich enough expats” are leaving, and that tons and tons of people willing to stake their lives are very very interested in coming here is very clear.
          While clearly some are fleeing political violence, drug gang wars, etc., many many more are coming here because USA is still the main place where thrift and hard work lead to personal and family well being better, usually much better than where they start from.
          In the last 40 years or so, I have been fortunate to work with folks who had immigrated to here in USA from every other continent, ( legally and illegally ) who were good people, worked hard, honest to a fault, generous, etc., etc… Just as are the vast majority of people born and raised in USA…
          Maybe time to get out of SE FL, and look around a bit or a ton more??

        • RightNYer says:

          VintageVNvet, I’m not sure what SE Florida has to do with anything specifically, as we’re just as screwed here as everyone else.

          The fact is, people are interested in coming here not because any supposed incentives for entrepreneurialism and hard work (the government/Fed subsidy of public companies at the expense of small businesses puts rest to that lie of our society), but because our former power and economy, and reserve currency status allow us to live way beyond our means. That means we can get away with, for now, things that other countries can’t. That’s why most people who are coming here do so.

          Our best days are behind us, and I challenge anyone to show me otherwise.

        • polecat says:

          Dude .. It’s what the System feeds on. Menu depends on locality.

    • josap says:

      As Hubby is a wonderful cook, we have always eaten most meals at home. It’s hard to pay top dollar for restaurant food when we can eat as well, or better at home.

      As much as I would love to garden, we have a townhouse in the city.

      • vinytoo says:


        I’m late to the table with this. Recently found this site and am getting up to speed. Reading the Great stuff posted by Wolf and the thoughtful comments.
        Thanks Wolf!

        Your comment brought back to memory my experiences while working in Frankfurt Germany area in the late 90.
        While staying in the small town of Neu-Isenburg at a B&B I had to eat out for noon/dinner and dinner/supper meals.
        The restaurants were packed for the noon meal but the evening meal, during the week were maybe 40% occupied. Food was always good and I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t busy at night.
        One evening I was dining with a local client and asked Him…why aren’t the restaurants busy at night?
        His reply was..”A husband doesn’t want to come home from work and go out and have a meal, which he knows is Not going to be as good as he’ll get at home and cost allot more!”
        For the evening meal the resturants weren’t so much competing with each other as they were competing with the cook at home!
        Seems like unfair competition! Not sure how the resturants compete with that one.
        Just wonder how many people here in the USA and elsewhere are going to figure this out?

    • Brant Lee says:

      There you go, Paulo. Almost like a beer commercial “It don’t get no better than this”.
      Course in my neck of the woods it’s catfish and sunfish caught in the pond along with country-fried spuds and okra. We do come here often.

    • Tony22 says:

      And not one cent of employment or sales taxes paid for your delicious meal.

      You’d be amazed how much salad one can grow in a 4×10 raised box, even with not that much sun. Forget tomatoes though.

      Map of states with no sales tax on food:

      To and including fruit trees, vegetables and food edibles seeds. What are you waiting for? Who needs a gym when you have a garden?

      • Lee says:

        Yep, cherries now for sale in the local supermarket at A$16 a kilo.

        Mine will soon be ready to pick and we are looking at a so – so harvest this year with the wind, rain and crappy amount of sunshine.

        Before I put up the bird nets I picked up the fruit that had fallen off of two trees and counted over 1000 of them on the ground – oh well.

        My SWAG is we’ll probably pick at least 25 to 35 kilos this year. Snow peas and green beans are now producing along with the spinach.

        Put in corn, green peppers (A$7.50 a kilo), eggplants and spuds (A$4.00 a kilo) too.

        Peaches are growing and I’ve had to thin them out. Apples coming along nicely and a huge number of small oranges on the one tree. the other three are too young yet to produce.

        Only put in one tomato this year as I had a couple of plants come up from seed naturally.

        Great year for flowers with dafodils, freesia, and iris. Glads and gardenias are now blooming along with the various lilies. The sweet peas are next in line.

  12. Old School says:

    When my ex and I were busy working we would tend to get a lot of takeout for dinner. It was a time and energy saver at the end of the day, but now it’s all home cooking all the time.

  13. GotCollateral says:

    L shaped “recovery”

  14. andy says:

    Governors and mayors will get the Fed’s bailout. But not before they killed off what’s left of the small business in orange and purple zones, and in between.
    Enjoy your mandatory Whole Foods delivery via Amazon. It’s deducted from your paycheck, for convenience.

  15. Jonas Grimm says:

    It is my sincere hope that I one day wake up to see the entirety of the Fed has been disbanded and its members put to work shoveling manure for a living. But I know better. My retirement plan is to die at 50 with no offspring. If i want a kid I’ll adopt. I’m not going to bring another unwanted child onto this sinking ship of a planet.

    • RollingStone says:

      I used to think like that too until I had my first child. Once you have your own child your perspective changes and you will do everything in the universe to be there for them. Kids will adapt to this new world and thrive.

      • Whatsthepoint says:

        They’ll adapt….not sure about thrive though. That’s so 20th century…

    • Cas127 says:

      “shoveling manure for a living”

      That’s what their job is *now*, metaphorically speaking.

    • Engin-ear says:

      – “I’m not going to bring another unwanted child onto this sinking ship of a planet.”

      Planets do not sink.
      Societies do when such thinking hits a critical mass.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Were the Dinosaurs thinking when that meteor hit Earth and wipe out their society?

        • Engin-ear says:

          If we ever find an unabridged archive of “Dinosaur” – we’ll know.

      • polecat says:

        They can however, sink into a Fed Loaded gravity well

        .. planets, I mean.

    • Jonas Grimm says:

      Thank you for your literalist interpretation Rogal Dorn. I needed a laugh.

  16. tom20 says:

    With neighboring states in lockdown, we have been kept busy
    by the locals & escapees. Our seasonal folk that would winterize
    their homes and return the following spring, are leaving the heat on.

    They were here enjoying thanksgiving. Not worried if the neighbor
    was behind the bushes counting the # of people at the table.

  17. Mark says:

    Lines of $45,000 cars and $55,000 trucks on 7 year loans …..and hungry………winning ?

    • Yort says:

      I was curious is anyone else thought about the mathematical fact that many in line for free food had $30-$50k autos, most likely driving 30 miles each direction, so at 57.5cents per mile, at a cost of $34.50 wear and tear and fuel per govt standards 2020. I hoped they got more than $34.50 of food, and thought it would be much more efficient if we hired Amazon to deliver via “Prime”, etc.

      My friends and family call me “Spock”, and my logical thinking gets me in trouble often, so it is nice to have this forum as it allows me to see that a small percentage of people have logical thoughts without constant fear of political correctness “retribution”. That said, I’ve learned to keep my thoughts to myself and my mouth glued shut in the real world as I’m not viewed positively like “Spock” was…. but more like a less intelligent version of “Sheldon” from Bing Bang Theory, and people don’t laugh like they do on that show…HA

      • Engin-ear says:

        Witty remark.

        But makes the general public uneasy about their own financial illiteracy.

        Makes them think that you are a dangerous intellectual.

      • Sam says:

        “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

        Jmho ” Sometimes ” ( given the advent of social media) should be ”Most ”. As always, ymmv.

      • Harrold says:

        I doubt anyone with a $50k SUV was looking for rice and beans.

        You guys need to get out of the Cul-de-sac more often.

        • El Katz says:


          View the video news coverage. You might be surprised.

        • BrianC - PDX says:

          In 2009 I didn’t have a billable event for 9 months. (I’m 100% commission as a SW contractor.) I had child support payments of $952/mo and rent of over $2k/mo. My W2 income that year was about 28k. I canceled the insurance on my truck; donated the Toyota to OPB. Cut back on everything I could.

          I got my bike going again and bought a bus pass. (Just like my college years. Whoo hoo – back to the future!) I consumed a *lot* of beans and rice that year and the following years.

          A few of my friends get it. Those that are, for example, professional musicians. :) For people working in Portland’s Silicon Forest the entire thought of *adjusting* down is absolutely terrifying. Most are so leveraged, that any loss of income would be devastating. Especially to their sense of status and self worth.

          Could I do it again? Sure, though it is unlikely I will have to do so.

      • Ed Kennedy says:

        The people in the food line only see the immediate variable cost, gasoline, when they decide to get the free food.

      • Petunia says:

        I hate to break it to you but most of those people probably have jobs and not enough to eat. That car, they know they can’t afford, allows them to keep that job, that doesn’t pay enough to live on. Been there.

        BTW, we had to sell our wedding rings in our 21st year of marriage to keep the lights on and buy groceries. I’ll bet a lot of people on those lines have done the same.

        • Sam says:

          For those who’ve travelled by ‘commuter’ air carriers, contemplate that the crew (esp. flight attendants) are provided forms for food assistance [when they sign on] as the pay rate is below the (gov’t) poverty line.

        • Engin-ear says:

          We all agree – there is no honor in laughing at someone’s difficulties, that someone being a person, a company or a country.

        • Sam says:


          You are a remarkable woman of integrity & values, your husband is very blessed to have you for his wife.

          Aviation is littered w/AIDS (Aviation Induced Divorce
          Syndrome) casualties.

          “When Poverty Comes in at the Door, Love Flies Out the Window” – English Proverb

        • polecat says:

          Perhaps many recently ‘had’ jobs.. before arbitrary dictates from those at the top not having to worry about where their OWN meal tickets, came into play (here’s looking at you Gavin!)

          I totally blame politicians, the flip-flopping health advisory/med establishment/billpharma, firealarm MSM, (bleedyleady!), and tech barons (of all sorts) for causing this clusterf#ck!
          They’re ALL on the grift! .. taking-out all the peons, one by one! Keeping us afraid & anxious.

          Remember – Eventually, You will own nothing, and Like It!

      • Hoepper says:

        Spot on. I am always amazed how little logical thinking is around. It doesn’t seem to be taught in school anymore. I guess it is now considered racist.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        laughter on sheldon is ”canned”,,, otherwise most folks have no clue to the fairly often clever one liners and other kinds of funnies on that and many other TV shows,,,
        similar with all the ”laugh type” TV,,, in all cases, it’s the lead in and confirmation of the propaganda/brainwashing/advertising paying for those shows
        even if you change away from the strictly and overtly advertising segments (that continue to grow btw,) there are propaganda/brainwashing/advertising efforts in place in almost every minute of ”scripted” TV…

    • Trailer Trash says:

      They are in a tough spot, having believed last year’s (and many previous years’) endless propaganda that things have never been better.

      It’s easy to judge others and see that in hindsight a less expensive used car might have been better. But how much better is it to have a smaller monthly payment with the possibility of $3000 repair bills at any time? Add to that the cost of lost wages / lost job for some people if they can’t get to work.

      I wonder how many of those expensive rigs are driving without insurance, hoping they don’t get stopped by police, and hiding from the repo man. Believe me, it is not a good way to live…

      • Sam says:

        Have notice an absence of vehicles being pulled over by (State, Metro) police, compared to earlier this year. Minimal interaction seems operational code, I don’t blame them (given the uncertainties of any traffic stop).

        In the Peoples Republic of Portland (OR), the homeless have free reign to camp where ever they choose (local gov policy is to provide trash bags/regular pickup plus portable toilets for tent camps.)

      • BrianC - PDX says:

        My son has picked up his first job after high school, working at a local Discount Tire store…

        When he first started he’d come home with some story about the people coming into the shop almost every day:
        – Guy with new 2 year old Mercedes Benz, two front tires with cord showing on the outside. (Recommend new tires… No don’t need them! They are working fine.) Just wants pressure checked.
        – Cadillac guy drove in with 4 bald tires and cord showing, replaced with used tires they had just taken off the last customers car with some tread still on them.
        – Land Rover guy – Super expensive wheels, buys cheapest tires available.
        – Big Pickup Truck guys – so much stupid, you can’t count the stories

        Guys with the wrong size tires, tires rubbing the body panels, body rust so bad the bodies bend on the hoist when being lifted.

        We have had a *lot* of talks about the fact that all these folks are out driving on the *same roads* you are driving on. With bad tires and bad equipment. Plus the talks about people buying cars for status and not being able to maintain them.

        • Sam says:


          There’s two kinds of aircraft (irrespective of piston, turboprop, jet), those with the maintenance done [documented]…and those in lieu of maintenance. Neither will fall from the sky…..since someone signed off airworthiness. Unless aircraft’s log books are missing, then steep discount. Caveat Emptor.
          The cheaper price of one model will (per hour) cost more than the more expensive (well maintained) version.
          Factor in reduced operational readiness and the bargain priced ship quantity fades quickly, especially when that ship goes up for sale again.
          Lots of “$0000’s” add up real quick in the aviation sectors.
          I heard of similar parables in software development.

  18. Mad Dog says:

    Our local Irish Pub has done a good job in staying open through this pandemic. We go there twice a week. We do a take out during bad weather. They also have had live Irish music and Irish dancing to lift the spirits of the patrons along with some Irish coffee spike with a double shot of whisky, and some good light beers. In DC we get a few warmer days even in the winter so you can still dine outside. I noticed a lot of the customers are loading up on alcoholic beverages more than ever. Another side affect of the Pandemic. AA is going to have to open up some more facilities to handle the inflow.

  19. Mad Dog says:

    Brady Boyd
    Nov 29, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    What depression?!?! Seattle Times says there will 24 new restaurants opening soon around Seattle.

    Who would believe anything written in the Seattle times. Its a rag.

  20. Mad Dog says:

    Spent 6 months living in Seattle on Capital Hill in 1973 going to grad school at the UW. Capitol Hill was a run down ghetto then. Mostly poorly maintained frame houses. No sense of community. The place was in a depression with Boeing having laid off nearly its entire workforce. Most people I met there looked depressed. No sun, lack of Vitamin D. The best day I had was the day I left.

    • Sam says:

      Mad Dog,

      Reflection(s) of USAF basic training from Nov ’74 to Jan ’75: Seems that most of the group I was in was from SEA as there was no jobs & little hope.
      I was a casualty of energy pricing when the mph emphasis switched to mpg as Opec double crude costs.

      The used car mrkt for muscle cars (and hi-perf engines) imploded overnight.

  21. El Katz says:

    @Mad Dog

    Seattle is the suicide capital of the U.S. for a reason.

    My most vivid memory of Seattle is that of a dignitary throwing out the first pitch at the Girls Little League Softball World Series. He mocked me for wearing a Gore-Tex shell in the rain. Shortly thereafter, he had water streaming out of his pants legs and into his shoes. He looked me in the eye and said: “Yeah… you’re right… the weather here does suck.”

    Portland was bad enough… but I never could figure out how anyone could live in Seattle.

    • Sam says:

      PDX yearly rainfall: 36″
      SEA : 37.5
      Atlanta: 52″ (note; never park in lower, than street, level parking facilities)

      But nothing matches the intense hostility of OK & TX thunderstorms/hail. Tornado’s are minor anomalies [xcept for those on the ground]
      Runner up: SE & SW US.

      Have experienced mucho turbulence from the flt deck and diverted (option: went ‘scenic route’ with enough fuel reserve) to let the squall line(s) playout.

      Happy Trails……

      • WERNER A HOERMANN says:

        It’s not the rain, it is the grey sky without a ray of sunshine that sucks the goodness out of everybody

    • lenert says:

      Cha! – and for the last 40 years you’d think they’d all be gone by now but nooooo they just keep coming.

  22. Crush the Peasants! says:

    Yes, the Northeast receives more total rainfall than Seattle. The Seattle area has much to recommend. Proximity to great skiing – Steven’s Pass, Crystal Mountain, and the under appreciated Mt. Baker, which holds the record for most total snow in a season, 1,140 inches. And Whistler-Blackcombe is a beautiful 4 hour drive as well. Great hiking in the nearby Cascades. Beautiful islands commutable by ferry. The touristy Pike Street market which does have an amazing array of vendors but also houses some fine restaurants (if they still are in operation). Sequim’s beautiful lavender fields are in reach. The amazing Cascade Loop Scenic Byway. Rick Steeves is a short drive to Edmonds. And with global warming, the summers are quite nice and without rain. Yes, whackadoodle leadership, but I suspect that this, too, shall pass. No income tax. So much more to enjoy.

  23. Robert says:

    I see no shortage of people waiting in lines of cars at Mcdonalds or standing outside family restaurants for curbside pickup.

    I think you have to be completely insane to be eating prepared food of any kind. If the cook sneezes on your food, then its covid time.

    The only way takeout makes sense is if you take the food home and nuke it for 3 minutes (is that enough to kill the covid I don’t know?). But how many people are doing even that?

    • RightNYer says:

      Robert, do you have any science to back this up? From everything I’ve read, the virus doesn’t really live outside the body in any amount high enough to cause infection. The CDC/WHO all say that infection is NOT occurring the way you describe.

      • Robert says:


        The CDC are the same people who told us not to wear masks early on. But, if you forgive that noble lie, then you can find it right on the CDC web page -“How Coronovirus spreads”. They mention surface spreading.

        Don’t fall for the statistical trap on how the virus ‘mostly spreads’. Yes, it’s mostly by air, but you’d be a fool not to sanitize your groceries and packages. If a super-spreader sneezes on you food -for you the probability is likely close to 100%.

        Check yourself on how many times you rub your eyes a day. If you do a count, you’ll find it’s dozens of times a day. Masks yes, but as the % of infected climbs the probability of surface infection also climbs.

  24. Sam says:

    Likelihood of outdoor dining probably nil today in parts of DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA until 7 PM EST (NWS tornado watch).

  25. Mad Dog says:

    I currently live in the Swamp (more like the cesspool) of the Washington D.C. Metro area. I would take this place over Seattle any day of the week. The dude that talked me into moving to Seattle has some serious explaining to do.

    The rag newspaper The Seattle Times didn’t even cover the Watergate Investigation when it was exploding. I didn’t even find out about it until I got to DC.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      When I used to tease friends in both places that if i had all the money in the world, i would live in (far) northern CA in the winter and live in far SWFL in the summer; they thought I was nuts,,, (which i am, of course, almost at the line of certifiably) … but when i explained how much it rained in both places, but only AT those times, they begin to get it.
      Seattle and all areas of Pacific Coast are demonstrably much cleaner in their rainy season, as is FL, and there ya go..
      Unfortunately, due to climate change, (no matter the cause) ,,, those clear cut and wonderful seasons are eroding in the two areas mentioned, as well as many other locales, where the weather is much different than it was 50-70 years ago.
      Where’s it going to end up?
      At this time, my money is on the 172 year cycle proposed and proved possible/probable, (at the time) by Wheeler, et alia,,,
      I just hope the dirt we bought in FL in 15 will be waterfront property for our grand children or theirs before the cycle goes back to where we are now; elevation is about right, but the soil is totally sea bottom sand down just 1 meter or so.

  26. Jon says:

    I hear that asset prices wont come down because of large amount of money being printed which is true.
    But the problem is: this money is all going to rich people who can’t really create widescale consumption. If this money reaches to common joe, i can see consumption increasing.
    I only see spending and consumption going down over time unless govt starts printing money and start giving to common people which is totally possible.

  27. Mad Dog says:

    A church around the block from me has AA meetings every Wed. NO services just AA. I noticed cars stretching around the block and even in front of my own house. This may be just anecdotal evidence that the increase in drinking as a result of the pandemic is real.

    I bet Wolf’s beer mugs sales are going through the roof. He picked a good time to start selling those mugs.

  28. Sam says:

    True Kitchen + Kocktails/Kevin Kelly has my vote for restaurant mgmt. of the year.

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