Thrifty Americans Still Eating Out, A Little


One of the easiest ways to save money is to eat at home. Everyone knows this, right? Even if you buy yourself premium ingredients and fancy sauces, you’ll still save money. But even in this time of tight pursestrings, the restaurant business isn’t doing completely awful. Not great, mind you, but it’s not a total horror show. Pf Changs, Chipotle and Buffalo Wild Wings have all came out with earnings that surpassed expectations.

Reuters: “There were positive surprises all around. It doesn’t mean the business trends are any better, but they’re doing a good job where they can,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller said.

“Buffalo Wild Wings was outstanding. Chipotle was good relative to what a lot of us thought. P.F. Chang’s did a good job on cost controls, though they are suffering a lot worse fate on the top line.”

Shares of Buffalo Wild Wings climbed more than 25 per cent, and Chipotle rose nearly 20 per cent in after-hours trade and P.F. Chang’s gained almost 2 per cent at the end of regular trading.

On the collapse of PF Chang’s sales, we have to give credit to our pal Paul Kedrosky, who early on identified it as the ultimate subprime-ville aspirational joint.

All that being said, if you actually have work and aren’t maxed out on your credit card, you can probably find empty tables and cheaper prices at restaurants that were once out of reach for you. Celebrity Top Chef judge Tom Collichio is slashing prices at his Craftsteak location in NY, in an attempt to get eaters in the door.

Says Gawker:

Tom Colicchio, the bald but decidedly un-jolly chef and Top Chef TV judge has turned the front half of his new-ish, poorly-received Craftsteak (he owns a whole chain of branded “Craft” restaurants), appropriately located in the Meatpacking District, into something cleverly called Halfsteak. There you can get a variety of meats and other small plates, all for under $15. Plus you can get half a beer for $4! A steal! And there’s the added benefit of feeling smug and thrifty compared to those at the back of the restaurant, while they get to feel smug and wealthy as they lazily look at you teetering on a bar stool.

$4 beer and a chance to feel smug and wealthy? Sounds like a deal to us.