What Do YOU Think: Do Hard Times Mean Less Fun Eating Out?


“Consumers are cutting back on discretionary spending, so those brands that can carve out distinct brand positions are the ones that will win,” said Tim Pulido, president of Tustin-based Mimi’s Café. 

And apparently, Mr. Pulido is taking his own statement quite seriously. That’s why he’s adding cocktail bars to his restaurants. Wait… What?! Cocktails at Mimi’s Café? What’s the dealio?

Well, it looks like desperate times are calling for desperate measures. The National Restaurant Association is getting early signs that the larger economic slowdown is affecting the bottom lines of restaurants throughout the nation, and throughout Orange County. That’s why restaurants all over OC are taking to more “creative” ways to lure in customers. Whether it’s cocktails at Mimi’s in Tustin or $5 “late nite desserts” at Sage on the Coast in Newport, they’re doing whatever they can to get us to keep spending money on their food.

So will these gimmicks work? And do tougher economic times really mean less eating out? What do you think about this? Can this pain being felt by the restaurants really be a sign that we’re pinching our pennies due to hard times?

I want to hear what you have to say about this. Are you spending less dining out than you used to? Would you be willing to head back to Sage on the Coast for the cheaper desserts and more affordable small plates? Is the weak economy affecting your dining plans?

Go ahead. Make my day. Have your say.

  5 comments for “What Do YOU Think: Do Hard Times Mean Less Fun Eating Out?

  1. Ellinorianne
    December 27, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Doesn’t matter. It’s just too much to eat out most times for my family. $50 bucks for a meal out? No way. It’s too much food, not very good and not very healthy either.

    I’m glad I have Mother’s Market near my house though, I don’t mind spending the money if it’s fresh, organic and good for me and my family. Native Foods is opening a restaurant in Aliso Vijeo and I just can’t wait, I will be there way too often.

    They need to improve the food and offer half portions, that would make me go back to eating out more.

  2. Gary Kephart
    December 27, 2007 at 9:19 am

    It’s two things: 1) save a little money and 2) eat better

  3. Andrew Davey
    December 27, 2007 at 9:27 am


    As always, you’re likely right on the money.


    Good point. The portions usually are HUGE, but the quality of the food isn’t always as great as the portion size. To be honest, we’re also not eating out so much these days, either. I have a Trader Joe’s near my house, and it’s just easier to run over there, stock up on what I like, and cook what I want to eat at home.


    OK, so we so far have 3 saying that eating out often isn’t worth it. Any one care to disagree? 🙂

  4. Cam
    December 27, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Dreamdinners.com is a good alternative for those diners wishing to save money but have limited time. Also when I do dine out I never order beverages. I just can’t see spending 2 to 3 bucks on a glass of iced tea that only costs pennies for the restaurant to make. I would rather add that amount to the severs tip. Yes the portions are too large but I always get a second meal out of the leftovers the next day. I am not too proud to ask for that doggie bag.

  5. Paul Lucas
    December 27, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    “So will these gimmicks work? And do tougher economic times really mean less eating out? ”

    I know it has for me Andrew. I have been through times like this before. I’ve been in the construction trades or related industries all my life. So I am pretty acutley aware of when an economic downturn is about to happen.

    Lucky for me I developed the habit of paying my bills in advance and saving money before I start to spend money on dinners out, movies, and generally anything thats not guns but butter.

    I learned long ago to know the difference between guns and butter and to take care of my guns first. As such, the latest crisis, although its been tough, I have been able to weather by developed habits of frugality.

    So yeah, I have been eating at home almost 100% the last few months in order to weather this latests downturn. Lucky for me, a new large project is getting off the ground in january. So I will be able to go out and eat more and restore my reserves (savings, pay bills forward etc.)

    But what really surprised me is how much money I am able to save, and also lose a little bit of weight by simply preparing and eating my meals at home.

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