A new cover article in the Chron discusses the paradoxically booming year for restaurant openings we've seen in San Francisco, despite data from a Chicago-based market research firm that 290 Bay Area restaurants closed between spring '09 and spring '10. But according to Kevin Westlye at the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, numbers like that are "less reflective of San Francisco and more telling about other Bay Area cities," and other inner-Bay surveys (like our MenuPages data dump) came up with more openings than closings last year. Despite double-digit declines nationwide in expense account spending and the aging of the Boomer demographic, San Francisco remains a food-obsessed town where locals spend, on average, $700 more a year on dining out than New Yorkers or Angelenos about $4,070 per household.
"All of us haven't been to Alcatraz, but we've all eaten at the top restaurants," says Pete Osborne, who ought to be optimistic after opening the ginormous Pedro's Cantina last month across from AT&T Park.
The piece also notes the openings of other large, 100+-seat restaurants like Prospect, Wayfare Tavern, and the upcoming 25 Lusk in a big industrial space off Townsend Street all of which are banking on the fact that the restaurant scene here is going to stay as bright and busy as ever.
The only things going against restaurateurs: the growing quality of prepared meals at grocery stores and specialty markets, and the tendency of the younger generations to spend less on eating out, which is why fine dining venues in particular are on the decline. But don't our tastes just get more expensive as we get older? Perhaps this goes more to Corey Lee's point about shifting notions of fine dining, when he spoke to Grub Street prior to the opening of Benu, when he said, "I think people are figuring out that the thing they enjoy most about a restaurant is the food, not necessarily the atmosphere."
What's eating the Bay Area's restaurants [Chron]
Earlier: Steak, Pizza, and Lots More Casual Eating: Our Fall Trend Watch [Grub Street]