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Times Like These: On the Burst of the Restaurant Bubble

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The Dining Section is back on the recession beat this week, running a piece about how many chefs are out there looking for work. Txikito's Alex Raij and Jean Georges' Johnny Iuzzini discuss just how many chefs they have pounding down the doors, while Nicole Kaplan (ex-Eleven Madison Park pastry chef), Colin Alevras (Tasting Room), and Timothy Reardon (ex L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon) admit they've taken less prestigious jobs—and "a reduction in ego"—in order to stay solvent.

The most interesting parts of this, however, are the sections where major restaurateurs and chefs liken the industry to the financial and real estate markets. Growth was excessive and unrealistically successful, and eventually, a correction had to be made:

· Joe Bastianich: “Suddenly the restaurant business looks not so different from the financial and real estate markets...When expansion is fueled by unfounded optimism, you get a balloon that doesn’t exist in reality.”

· Fabio Trabocchi: “A boom is exciting, and it raises the level of the food for everyone...at the end there is only a certain number of people to eat in your restaurants.”

· Joachim Splichal, the chef of the Patina Restaurant Group: “I was one of the celebrity chefs who started opening more and more restaurants, and now we are totally overbuilt."

· Elizabeth Blau, partner in four Las Vegas restaurants: “Las Vegas is like the subprime mortgage market of restaurants...This may be a healthy correction.”

· Michael White: "Michael White said the New York restaurant scene was due for a'cleansing.'"

· With Fewer Pots to Stir, Competition Rises Among Cooks [NYT]

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