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What is going to happen to the restaurants that were in the pipeline before the recession hit? How patient will consumers be with rising prices?

Question: How is the recession affecting the New York dining scene?

Adam Platt: Well, it’s making prices go up and you’d think that it would-- The New York dining scene is subject to the same rules as a forest, these big conflagrations and a forest fire comes through and things are burnt off and a new crop of restaurants come up, and you would think that we’re about to suffer or were in the process of suffering a huge conflagration, that all these restaurants would be blowing out. However, like I said, there are a lot of great restaurants around and last year when I was writing I was accused of being crabby about the things I was writing about and that’s fine. I didn’t find a lot to write about that I liked. Oddly enough, this year with the economy supposedly going south there are a lot of quite high-profile restaurants that are opening up and that I think are pretty good. Now a lot of this is because they’ve been planned a year ahead or even two or three years ahead and I don’t know how they’ll do but the food prices have gone up a lot and it’s just a question of how affected the consumer or the restaurant goers are, but the thing is that the level of talent around I don’t think has ever been higher. In the ‘90s you had these- you had a generation of real superstar chefs. You had Jean-Georges and Batali and Danielle and David Bouley and they really haven’t been replaced but they’ve been- by these- they have been replaced by sort of similar godheads in the restaurant firmament. However, there are a lot more people who know how to cook and the model for- who know how to cook well and the model for the young aspiring chef is not anymore to go in to a fancy French restaurant and get screamed at for ten years and run the kitchen and ultimately run the restaurant himself or to open a fancy French restaurant in midtown. The model is more and more to go to a neighborhood where you might live in, a la David Chang and many others-- Wylie Dufresne is another one-- and open your own restaurant cooking the kind of food you want to eat and that’s going on more and more and more not just in New York but all over the country and there is a much wider variety of good restaurant food around now than I think there has been ever before.

Question: What is going to happen to restaurants that were in the pipeline before the recession?

Adam Platt: I think they are going to close that's generally what happens with the rents this high and you just-- you can't support-- you can only support your space for so long without being successful so they'll close and statistically most of the restaurants do close and I don't know what the-- I can't remember what the shelf life is for a restaurant in New York. I think it's two or three, four years, but it's really not very long.

Question: How patient will consumers be?

Adam Platt: Well, consumers-- You would think they would either get bored or they would not pay 25 bucks for a coddles hen's egg but from what I'm seeing eating out-- the appetite for restaurant food in New York remains voracious. That's-- I'm not seeing a lot of empty restaurants. I'm seeing a lot of full restuarants and not only-- They're all-- They're full before they're even reviewed and this is a product of the internet blogging phenomenon. People know about these places literally when they open and there are-- If you go on websites like Eater you'll see the various reporting, camera shots from somebody's armpit of the bar being ... made. Anyway, so the hysteria is there and I don't-- it doesn't look like it's abating but I think if a recession rolls through this city it's going to happen to a certain extent.


Recorded: 4/22/08