TACOMA, Wash. _ Pizza, fried chicken, egg dishes _ they’re all up. Not so the foie gras, caviar and prime tenderloin. Customers are lining up at the buffet and returning to comfort food. Business lunches are down. McDonald’s is doing well.
Restaurant owners are facing a test like none in recent memory. Some are attracting new customers to replace the ones who’ve taken their appetites downmarket. Some are adding specials to the menu and innovations to the marketing mix.
Some simply wonder what comes next.
"It is certainly one of the tougher times we’ve seen in a while," Anthony Anton, CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association, said last week.
He points especially to difficulties faced by higher-end establishments, the “white-tablecloth” restaurants. Also, he notes the troubles faced by restaurants "helped by tourism _ they’re feeling the pain a little bit more. Tourism is down. Business travel is down."
Conversely, quick-service restaurants _ "the ones with counter service, fast food, the places that don’t have a server, with more pre-prepared items and fewer made to order" _ are reporting an increase in sales, he said.
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