Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, November 16, 2009

Has The Average Dollar Per Person Dropped For the Average Joe Out There?

Now if you work in a real fine dining restaurant where people go in and think nothing of dropping a couple of hundred bucks for a meal with a fine bottle of wine included this probably doesn't apply to you.

But let's say you work in a place where the average joe goes like the place I work in which I would have to say is just a step below fine dining. Where I work the goal is to have each person spend at least $36 before they leave the premises and say good night.

Now here is a question I am just going to throw out there. With the difference ever growing between the haves and the have nots have you noticed the average joe , you know the couple with 2 kids , spending less or going out less? Or if they are going out as often are they frequenting less expensive restaurants than they used to?

A case in point is I live nearby someone who manages a restaurant where the average guest check runs at $25 a head and he is busy. Yet times when we used to be busy we are slower. Is this a trend when we see the average joe moving down a notch to still be able to afford to go out?Like the middle class , is the casual fine dining restaurant going to be squeezed out where we only see low average check restaurants like your Pizza Hut ( no offense intended ) , versus your finer dining restaurant and you all know at least one I am talking of.

Remember the 80's when the tableside fine dining disappeared? That took place during the last great recession in the early 80's. The gueridons never returned after that.

What about where you work? Do you see the same people less and less and what do they spend on the average? I would be interested in hearing what your views are on this.


SkippyMom said...

I don't know if it makes a difference as I don't wait tables anymore, but I can guarantee that we don't eat out like we used to [twice a month - $130 check/ 30% tip] because we were hit hard in our retirement accounts.

We eat out at lower scale restauraunts for a lesser total and only for special occasions [i.e. we treated our daughter and friend to "Macaroni Grill" last month for Homecoming - it was about $70.00/plus tip for 3]

So yes, the economy hits hard - and I feel bad I can't go visit our friends at our local but with two kids in college, one going in a year and someone walked off with our invested money? We have cut back everywhere.

Now ask me why I am spending $400 on worms. LOL :) No. Seriously. I am.

BB said...

I work at a bar and grill (mostly bar) so it's a bit different. But here is what I have noticed:

People are coming in a lot later. IMO, they are "pre-gaming" before they go to the bars to save money.

We've also seen nights where it's been just as busy as it was last year.. but people are spending a lot less. We will see people buying a drink or two but skipping the shots.. or vice versa. Since the beginning of the busy season we have seen a progessive drop in register totals because people are just ordering less or not coming in or coming in really late.

Another trend I have noticed is that when a bigger holiday is coming up people the bar will get slower and then BAM the holiday hits and everyone is in there drinking and we're really busy. In this case, I guess people are saving up for their more important events.

Just thought I'd share that with you.


purplegirl said...

At my particular restaurant, things have stayed pretty level. It's interesting. I think it's because of the type of restaurant we are--our demographic has always been young families, old people, and white trash. So now maybe some of the people who were a cut above that are coming in, but they're still in a position to spend as much as our old customers.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

SkippyMom...I think you are one of many cutting back. The shift in dining habits has taken place and will stay that way for quite a long time. Thank you for your input from a customer point of view.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Purplegirl...the young families who frequent the restaurants that have the kid's menu , snacks , will get busier with this shift going on. People will still want to go out just not spend as much. You are in a good spot that should get busier over time.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

BB...saving up for the big occasion is happening more often and people are having a drink or two before going out saving some money and spending less when at the bar. I can see that happening. All good points coming from a bartender's point of view. I will add you to the blog roll as well today.Thanks for the comment.

The Veteran Server said...

Our average guest spending has definitely gone down, our managers are scrambling to create and add more cost-effective items to the menu to reflect that. I'd rather not see our prices go down, but business had slowed so much I'm pretty much down with whatever will bring more folks in. Industry insiders say restaurants won't really see any noticeable rebound until late 2011/early 2012. So I guess we'll all have to just hang in there! God bless.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

The Veteran Server...everyone is feeling the affects and whether it will ever return back to the way it was whether it be 2011 might be optimistic. Hey we just got to do the best we can for right now! Take care.

Confessions of a Waitress said...

I'm still doing table side service but you're right it has disappeared. At the people coming in I don't think that has changed much. But I will say I can't remember the last time I decanted a bottle of Opus One. Or even sold a Silver Oak for that matter. People are spending less. and I think that may take a bigger chunk than them coming in less often. What used to be a table worth three or four hundred dollars is maybe half of that. when the wine disappears the after dinner port disappears the extra appetizers etc... give it time. Atleast I hope it'll get back to normal.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Confessions of a Waitress...you know where I work I can go a day or two without using my corkscrew. How bad is that. Here is hoping that people feel a bit more comfortable about their future income than what is happening now.

Confessions of a Waitress said...

wow! I couldn't function without my wine key. I don't share it.I don't trust other servers to return it. One of those really cool gifts from a sous chef worked with a while back. Absolutely. Its already looking up for the holidays I just had a four bottles of cristal and four bottles of the caymus special reserve delivered for a VIP table tomorrow. My bev manager demanded that he see where I was going to store it all until tomorrow. Something like 2,000 worth of wine... It's my table not that it'll do much good. I'm in a tip pool.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Confessions of a Waitress...nice table you are getting tomorrow. Tip pool isn't bad if everyone brings in big numbers. I remember working in places like you are at right now. Nice wine... Good wishes on the table.