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If I may, allow me to boil down Yuki Noguchi‘s Morning Edition report today on how local restaurants are surviving this vicious economy: creating affordable prix-fixe menus, doing more with lesser ingredients, and, well, being Micheal Landrum.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why NPR would choose to focus on only two restaurants, Ray’s Hell Burgers and 1789 Restaurant. The former is owned and operated by Landrum, who, by sheer act of will, philosophy, and maybe lunacy, sells a 10-ounce steakhouse burger for $6.95, a feat that no one restaurateur in town can match. The latter is owned by the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, which has far deeper pockets than your average neighborhood eatery looking to escape this economic quicksand.
First of all, the economy is not hitting casual, counter-service restaurants as hard as the upscale ones, so why focus on Ray’s Hell Burgers to begin with? The hamburger, after all, is considered recession-proof. And if you want to understand how fine-dining places will ride out this storm, talk to owners of single restaurants, where their livelihood depends on survival. Talk to Tom Power at Corduroy. Talk to Bob Kinkead at Kinkead’s (yes, he owns another place, but it’s in Boston). Talk to Kaz Okochi at Kaz Sushi Bistro. You get the point.
I’m not saying anything about the stability of these restaurants, but I bet all three owners spend more than a few nights worrying over the economy—-and what they will do to survive.
Photo by Charles Steck