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Bob Moon: New York City kicks off “restaurant week” starting this weekend. That annual promotional event gives diners a rare chance to enjoy three-course meals at bargain prices. But now that the financial-industry gravy train is gone, we wondered how many New Yorkers might have lost their appetite for haute cuisine and other delights these days. Sally Herships takes a look at whether the wine glass is half full or half empty.
Sally Herships: Jean-George Vongerichten is a French chef who owns restaurants around New York City. He says he’s noticed customers cutting back.
Jean-George Vongerichten: Some of my restaurants are doing the same volume as last year in terms of number of covers, but in terms of spending it’s much less.
Less orders for wine, less lobster, less caviar. But Jean-Georges is focused on more for less. He says restaurant week prices in the past were so successful, he’s kept them year-round.
Dorothy Hamilton founded the French Culinary Institute in Soho. She says restaurant week isn’t enough to save some restaurants, but there may be an upside to the downturn:
Dorothy Hamilton: I called Zagat a few weeks ago to see how many new restaurants will be opening in the city in the next six months, and they predict a hundred new restaurants will open.
Hamilton says as New York City’s crazy real estate prices start dropping, there’ll finally be room for newcomers.
In New York, I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.
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