Friends, with the change of the economy the restaurant industry is taking a hit. Not only the higher priced restaurant chains are seeing a drop in traffic. Popular chains such s P.F. Chang's, Cheesecake Factory, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Chili's, On The Border Mexican Grill and even Denny's are feeling the effects. This could be a recipe for disaster for privately owned restaurants and chains as well. People are eating out less, packing their own lunch and skipping the morning run through Starbucks. When consumers do eat out some are choosing less expensive entrees. Instead of ordering the Fillet Mignon they opt for a less expensive chicken entree. Customers are skipping the drinks and opting for water and choosing to fore-go the appetizer and dessert as an unnecessary extravagance . The interesting thing I read lately is that the family friendly priced restaurants such as the Olive Garden and even Red Lobster are seeing an increase in business. People still want dine out but they are changing their patterns and choosing less expensive options. When restaurants such as these offer coupons they entice the customer even more.

Friends, with the change of the economy the restaurant industry is taking a hit. Not only the higher priced restaurant chains are seeing a drop in traffic. Popular chains such s P.F. Chang's, Cheesecake Factory, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Chili's, On The Border Mexican Grill and even Denny's are feeling the effects. This could be a recipe for disaster for privately owned restaurants and chains as well. People are eating out less, packing their own lunch and skipping the morning run through Starbucks. When consumers do eat out some are choosing less expensive entrees. Instead of ordering the Fillet Mignon they opt for a less expensive chicken entree. Customers are skipping the drinks and opting for water and choosing to fore-go the appetizer and dessert as an unnecessary extravagance . The interesting thing I read lately is that the family friendly priced restaurants such as the Olive Garden and even Red Lobster are seeing an increase in business. People still want dine out but they are changing their patterns and choosing less expensive options. When restaurants such as these offer coupons they entice the customer even more.

All you have to do is go to an Olive Garden on a Friday or Saturday night and you will see this is true. The one closet to my house is impossible to get into if you wait until 5:00 or after. We know to get there at 4:45 or so. This is an oppurtunity for the all you can eat buffets like The Golden Coral or Hometown Buffet to possibly pick up additional clientele looking for the biggest bang for their buck. The insert I received in the mail yesterday from Hometown Buffet has coupons for *One Adult Dinner for $5.99 or 2 kids eat free with the purchase of one regular priced adult dinner. The same pricing applies to their weekend breakfast buffet as well. Possibly the higher end restaurants will adjust their prices with the times or offer coupons to lure the customers back in. No one is immune to the drop in business. Even fast food chains are experiencing a decline in business. When people do order they are choosing more items off the dollar menu. Many pizza and sub shops have some great deals going on right now. How long will this trend last no one knows. The question will be will the consumers keep their new found penny pinching habits as the economy gets stronger or will the resume their habits of old. That could be the difference between life and death for some of the restaurant chains. Dining out on Saturday nights is a family tradition for us. It is the only time my husband , son and I sit at the same table to eat. We are all on different eating schedules and diets. We look forward to our Saturday nights out. We are definitely paying closer attention to which coupons we have . As a rule we routinely skip the appetizer, dessert and we order water with lemon. At least my son and I do. My husband still has to have his diet coke. Have you changed your eating out habits due to the economy? For now happy dinning!

Laurie, TheBag Lady