The Washington Post on maybe?…..
The restaurant industry is frequently the precursor for a market correction, an early harbinger of a bear market or even a recession to come. And some experts are saying that an unfortunate confluence of factors — oversaturated restaurant markets, rising labor and food costs, weak sales, changing consumer tastes and loyalties, a shrinking middle class, declines in mall traffic, bank and investor skittishness about returns on investments — means the near future looks bleak.
This is the thesis of “Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End,” a new book by James Beard Award-winning food journalist Kevin Alexander.
Alexander argues that, starting in 2006, we experienced a transformative period for the U.S. restaurant industry.
He ticks off some of the innovations: the rise of “fine casual dining” (those restaurants with dangling Edison bulbs and exposed brick and in-your-face ambitious food that doesn’t lean overmuch on fine linens or fancy stemware), craft cocktails, farm-to-table dining, the hipification of non-Western food, the audacity of food truck culture, the democratization of criticism via social media.
But now we should prepare for a shake-up.
“There are too many restaurants,” Alexander said in a phone interview. “There hasn’t been a recession since 2008, and a recession gets the people who aren’t serious out of the way. Austerity breeds creativity.”
He is not alone in this prediction. David Henkes, a senior principal at food service industry analyst firm Technomic, says that for a number of years, the rate of restaurant growth has exceeded population growth.
Too many restaurants are chasing too few consumer dollars, he says. Part of this is because of demographic changes….