News for the Hospitality Executive
San Francisco Bay Area Diners Cutting Back on Spending,
But Being Treated Better
Restaurant Gary Danko Is Big Winner
|SAN FRANCISCO, September 23, 2009 - The Zagat 2010 San
Francisco Bay Area Restaurants guide was released today. Echoing the trend
around the country, the 9,700 San Francisco surveyors say they are cutting
back on their restaurant spending. Fortunately, they also report getting
plenty of good deals, prix fixe menus, attentive service, and access to
formerly hard-to-get reservations. All told, the new guide covers 1,308
restaurants from the Wine Country in the North down to the Monterey Peninsula.
"The economic downturn has definitely affected San Francisco diners. Quite simply, they are being more careful with their money," said Tim Zagat, CEO and Co-Founder of Zagat Survey. "The good news is that local restaurants have been going to great lengths to hang on to their clientele."
Industry Woes: When asked what effect the slow economy has had on their dining habits, surveyors report dining out less (52%), eating in less expensive places (42%), being more attentive to prices (42%), cutting back on alcohol (20%), appetizers and/or desserts (21%). Diners (5%) are even switching to tap/filtered water to save money. They are so price-sensitive that the percentage who list price as their main complaint has jumped to 10%, up from 6% last year. That's not surprising since San Francisco ranks among the nation's most expensive dining cities, with an average meal cost of $39.40, compared to the $34.54 national average.
The Good News: Many restaurants are offering bargain deals and 62% of diners say they are taking advantage of these opportunities; 40% say they feel their patronage is appreciated more; and 36% find it easier to obtain hard-to-get reservations. Despite their financial concerns, San Franciscans by a 73% vote consider green issues (organic, sustainably raised, locally grown products) to be as important as ever; ditto healthy menus, by a 70% margin, which explains the success of newcomers such as eco-Mexicans Nopalito and Little Chichuahua. Finally, 61% say they're still willing to pay even higher tabs to support worker healthcare and wages.
Cheap Eats: Fortunately, options abound for budget-conscious Bay Area diners. This year's Top Bang for the Buck is Saigon Sandwiches, serving "fabulous Vietnamese pork sandwiches." Following behind are In-N-Out, El Metate, and Arinell Pizza. In the Mission (named San Francisco's best dining neighborhood), Baby Blues BBQ has brought Southern BBQ to the Bay, while inexpensive pizzerias, flour + water and Tony's Pizza Napolentana have also premiered this year. In the Downtown Area, Showdogs brings the "best of the wurst" from all-natural hot-dog vendorLet's Be Frank, along with house made condiments and plenty of sides. Best of all, many restaurants are sticking to prix fixe lunches for $25, and dinners for $30 year-round (not just during Dine around Town), while other restaurants like the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room and Masa's are offering bargain a la carte and prix fixe options.
Winners: Showing that top-of-the-line dining is still going strong,
Gary Danko not only reclaimed the title for Top Food, but won for Most
Popular and Top Service this year. Taking home honors for Top Decor is
the "re-opened cliff hanging" Sierra Mar. The survey also includes 70 noteworthy
newcomers. Bottega, located in Yountville and led by chef Michael Chiarello
is this year's Top Newcomer. The Top 5 ranking in each category are as
Tweeting and Trucking: It's no surprise that San Franciscans rank among the most tech-savvy in the nation. Thanks to Open Table, this year 52% of surveyors say they typically make reservations online (up from 49% last year and 43% two years ago) and 85% report visiting a restaurants' website before eating there. Avid diners have even taken to the streets - and the Twitter-verse - following the ever-growing slew of gourmet food trucks. These mobile street vendors, now including ChowderMobile (from Sam's Chowder House), Spencer on the Go! (from Chez Spencer), and chef Chris Cosentino's Salumi Cycle, are being faithfully followed via their websites, email and Twitter.
A Tree Grows in Oakland: Oakland has seen a swell of good-value eateries opening this year, including tapas-barBarlata, wine bar and salumeria Adesso, Commis and Sidebar. On the horizon is the Jack London Square waterfront with a new gourmet marketplace, opening in early 2010, which will be flanked by 15 new restaurants including the already opened Bocanova (Rick Hackett of MarketBar) and the forthcoming Bracina (Daniel Patterson and ex-Delfina's Lauren Kino) and Pizzeria Zanna (Richard Corbo).
The Guide in Detail: In addition to ratings and reviews, the new guide includes listings and maps of the Most Popular restaurants, as well a transit map and 44 useful indexes including Historic Places, Power Scenes, Winning Wines Lists and Teen Appeal. The 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants guide ($14.95) was edited by Meesha Halm and Karen Hudes and is available at all major bookstores, through ZAGAT.com, on Zagat's mobile apps for iPhone and Android, or by calling 888-371-5440. For more information, please visit our press center (www.zagat.com/presscenter).
About Zagat Survey, LLC
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|Also See:||Los Angeles Dining Habits Change in Weak Economy, Consumer Spending Declines While Dining Deals Increase; Urasawa Takes Top Food and Service / September 2009|
|Zagat Survey: Daniel Reclaims the Top spot for Food from Le Bernardin, Little Doubt that New York is the Dining Capital of the World, Dress Codes Continue to Lose Ground / October 2007|