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After spending a year investigating the state of American restaurants, a journalist concludes that they're in a bubble that is about to burst. Seasoned restaurant pros may or may not agree with him, but he weaves a narrative that points to some serious problems.
The American restaurant business is a bubble, and that bubble is bursting. I've arrived at this conclusion after spending a year traveling around the country and talking to chefs, restaurant owners, and other industry folk for this series. In part one, I talked about how the Good Food Revival Movement created colonies of similar, hip restaurants in cities all over the country. In the series' second story, I discussed how a shortage of cooks -- driven by a combination of the restaurant bubble, shifts in immigration, and a surge of millennials -- is permanently altering the way a restaurant's back of the house has to operate in order to survive. — Kevin Alexander, Thrillist
In this third part of Alexander's three-part series, the focus is on what he says has been a restaurant golden age that is coming to an end. He continues,
In Atlanta, D.B.A. Barbecue chef Matt Coggin told Thrillist about out-of-control personnel costs: "Too many restaurants have opened in the last two years," he said. "There are not enough skilled hospitality workers to fill all of these restaurants. This has increased the cost for quality labor." In New Orleans, I spoke with chef James Cullen (previously of Treo and Press Street Station) who talked at length about the glut of copycats: "If one guy opens a cool barbecue place and that's successful, the next year we see five or six new cool barbecue places... We see it all the time here.”
Even Portland, the patient zero of the Good Food Revival Movement, isn't safe. This year, chef Johanna Ware shut down universally lauded Smallwares, saying, "the restaurant world is so saturated nowadays and it requires so much extra work to keep yourself relevant." And Pok Pok kingmaker Andy Ricker closed his noodle joint Sen Yai, citing "soaring rents, the rising minimum wage, and stereotypical ideas about 'ethnic food' as 'cheap food'" in an interview with Portland Monthly. — Alexander, Thrillist
For more on the realities restaurateurs face all the time, read the full article.