Are The Days of "Restaurants" Numbered? |

Are The Days of "Restaurants" Numbered?

It’s news to no one that the economy is in turmoil, and the culinary industry is suffering along with it. As consumers rein in their spending, costly restaurant meals are among the first luxuries to go. But Nicholas Lander at the Financial Times is going one step further—forecasting the end of the “restaurant” itself.
Not the concept, mind you, but the name. Lander argues that the word “restaurant” carries connotations of high prices and haute cuisine—once seen as exclusive, now simply seen as expensive. Chefs and restaurateurs go out of their way to spin their new ventures as cafes, or bars, or bistros, or trattorias… anything but the wallet-threatening restaurant.
Is the restaurant really endangered? While Lander speaks primarily about his own London, American cities have seen a trend towards increasingly informal openings. Renowned French chef Daniel Boulud, whose double-Michelin starred Daniel is consistently ranked amongst New York’s finest restaurants, opened Bar Boulud in 2008, a markedly less formal venue. David Chang, whose $100/head Momofuku Ko won two Michelin stars in the year of its opening, recently launched not another restaurant, but a bakery and “milk bar,” serving breakfast and sweets. Out in Chicago, the team behind acclaimed Merlo and Merlo on Maple just opened La Trattoria del Merlo, an informal home for their Bolognese fare. And respected New York chefs Marco Canora and Jody Williams have brought their talents not to new restaurants, but to wine bars—Terroir and Gottino, respectively, whose elevated bar fare has garnered rave reviews.
That said, higher-end restaurants have hardly disappeared. In Manhattan, several of the fall’s most anticipated openings fell firmly into “restaurant” territory. Restaurateur Drew Nieporent, the man behind Nobu, just celebrated the opening of Corton, a modern French restaurant (with a $76 prix fixe menu) that has already won laudatory reviews. David Burke’s new seafood restaurant Fishtail sources all of its fish sustainably, often at a higher cost. And the Belgian restaurant chain Rouge Tomate has just opened its first location on the Upper East Side—stunning dining room, artisinal cocktails, $72 dinner, and all.
So are restaurants doomed to extinction? Not yet. It seems there’s still a place in the restaurant world for—well, restaurants. But “milk bars,” trattorias, and bistros might well be on the ascendant.


rndgeorge • 12/08/2008
I don't believe that the term restaurant conjurs high prices in ones mind. The other monikerstrattoria, bistro, etc. are more of a marketing tool, the hip thing to do in today's market. The name changes, but the $$$$ remains the same.
aplus-equipment • 12/08/2008
I have been in the industry for years,both on the food service equipmentconsulting end and as a frequent restaurant goer. Yes the economy is suffering but my opinion is the best will always be around(just as long as they dont change the actual thing that makes them the best) Nyc is filled with top notch eateries that are packed during the week, I dont really see a major spike in closings nor do i see the term restaurant as pricey. LeonAplus kitchen
ganderson • 12/08/2008
The trend right after 9/11 was comfort food - the higher end named places if I remember were the places that took the hit.
randall2ndlead • 12/08/2008
I see the term "Restaurant" shuffled around for ma ny places like... A small diner... or a pricey single serving bistro... What would capture my eye's is a True Restaurant that will open my sences and my lungs to a good aroma and a goood quaity bite... and know some places are just throwing stuff together that shouldn't EVER be put together and then call that place a restuarnt? that makes me sick and beleive me... i will personally confront the chef, because calling yourself a restuarant and just making stuff that doesnt make sence and takes 3 hr's to read... that not a dish or a restuarnt for that fact.... so for future minds and ones alike... Please do this country a favor, Call it a restuarant for the foods sake and not for ur own leisure...
arthurboehm • 12/09/2008
Nonsense. Sort of like saying that the term theater should go because ticket prices, at least for Broadway productions, are exorbitant. There are many kinds of restaurant offering food at a range of price levels. But, ultimately the word restaurant has for most people a positive association.
jdevargas001 • 12/17/2008
It never will completely go away. It just has to reinvent itself to continue its survival. But no, not forever.
kdelavillefromoy001 • 12/17/2008
Double NonesenseTo think a name such as this needs to be changed.Carey this article was a waste of your time and ours for having to read it.
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