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Restaurant sales can be sign of the economic times

Posted December 27, 2011

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— The tale of the tape is still being tallied for the 2011 holiday season, and with it the data on consumer sentiment about the economy.

Retailers cashed in with record Black Friday sales, then saw a few weeks of slump before last-minute shoppers again boosted store traffic.

For those with tight budgets, holiday shopping may force a choice to cut back in other areas.

"Right now sales are not up," said Sarig Agasi, owner of Zely and Ritz restaurant in Raleigh. "I wish they were, but there's too many unemployed."

Restaurants a barometer on economy Restaurants a barometer on economy

Agasi said fewer companies hosted holiday parties at his restaurant this year. To keep people coming in, he offered a online coupon through Living Social and has a weekly special at a lower menu price.

To cut prices any further, Agasi said, he'd have to cut quality, something he's not willing to compromise in his farm-to-table restaurant.

He is hoping the arrival of 2012 brings stability to the economy and diners back to his tables.

"People need certainty. They need to go to work every day and know they are going to get a pay check," he said.

At Bella Monica in Raleigh, manager Trevor Chambers told a different story. He's already seen improvement. Customers aren't holding back as much this year as in the past when the economy was worse, Chambers said.

"They don't want to spend too much," he acknowledged, "But they don't mind, particularly this time of year, throwing a few extra dollars on the table to have a good time."

Overall, Bella Monica sales are up this year. Chambers credits consistent service and affordable prices. "Our service philosophy is white tablecloth in a casual setting, and I think it fits this market really well."

Wake County tax revenues show an additional 5 percent in prepared food and beverages tax revenue this year compared to 2010. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that Wake County earned $17.6 million in prepared food and beverage tax revenue.

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  • Crumps Br0ther Dec 29, 2011

    ....you better do some reseach and look at real numbers.
    batcave

    You cannot post facts on these boards. It just confuses people and will not heal their jerked knees. Most people will go to sources they know will tell them what they want to hear anyway. Its just easier to live in an echo chamber where everyone agrees with you, and those who don't will talked down too and dealt with for freethinking

  • corey3rd Dec 28, 2011

    "Had those folks PAID their loans there would have been no issues."

    If those people weren't part of a conspiracy between mortgage companies and appraisers, they wouldn't have bought over priced property that gave them incentive to merely walk away from the loan. Mortgage companies are the villains since notice how many of them have vanished or killed the banks that bought them when they were hot properties.

  • batcave Dec 28, 2011

    So you claim that the market tanked because mortgage companies were forced to give minorities loans? Think about this claim and get back to me.

    Never said that , you are reactionary, but it started the seed , even the fair housing act.It was part of the problem. If you don't get it then I can't help that.

  • batcave Dec 28, 2011

    The top story in america was him and monica lewinski's one time affair. He was also critisized for trying to kill Bin Laden,

    Monica's one time affair,not Slick's, as far as Bin Laden he passed on the Sudan's offer , so he lived to fight another day. You better do some research. The country was in the first stages of a bad economy at the end of Clinton's last term. Just like the booming Regan economy mask lots of red ink. The Clinton economy mask people living just above the poverty line , the line didn't measure poor, as it had in the past, but the very poor, 65 million working families could'nt afford the American dream in 1994 you better do some reseach and look at real numbers.

  • Bill Brasky Dec 28, 2011

    BatCave,

    So you claim that the market tanked because mortgage companies were forced to give minorities loans? Think about this claim and get back to me.

  • sandiegom22 Dec 28, 2011

    Those Citipass books are awesome. They cost $25 but save you hundreds. If you eat out a lot.

  • Jakethesnake Dec 28, 2011

    Bush was given clintons beautiful strong healthy economy

    Not really, affirmitive action banking started the crisis under Carter with Clinton adding more muscle to it. GOPISAJOKE that may well be , but if NC Dems could stay out of prison , maybe you would have more diners.

    Do your research and look back at the clinton admin. Economy was healthiest its ever been and we were out of debt for the most part,. help wanted signs everywhere, construction companies couldn't keep up. The top story in america was him and monica lewinski's one time affair. He was also critisized for trying to kill Bin Laden, repubs said it was just a move to get attention off of his affair. To bad for this, he might of actually got him back then if the GOP didn't ruin it.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 28, 2011

    "It's nice people want to see the mortgage companies as victims, but they were the economic terrorists."

    Wrong it started with Government pressure and Government continues to pressure outfits to give loans out that should not be issued. The people responsible also includes those that took loans they knew they could never pay. Had those folks PAID their loans there would have been no issues.

  • corey3rd Dec 28, 2011

    banks felt zero pressure to give out bad loans. The pressure came from the head of shady mortgage companies that were out to make a quick buck by getting a bunch of timebomb loans bundled and sold off to other companies. When they exploded, the mortgage company didn't take the hit. The stupid investors and other banks took the hit. The mortgage company weasels had their millions of dollars and were living large as Wachovia imploded.

    It's nice people want to see the mortgage companies as victims, but they were the economic terrorists. Most of the houses around here that foreclosed were over half a million dollar properties. Those weren't minorities. They were white folks who wanted to flip for a quick kill. And they got slaughtered.

  • batcave Dec 28, 2011

    Bill Brasky

    The fact of the matter is political pressure was made for banks to make bad loans to minorities, no gettin around that. People move money out of s and l to money markets. rates went to 21 percent. This can be traced to the 60s , regulation not deregulation, no scapegoat just the history of the crisis periode

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