Restaurants around the country might be experiencing a surge in business because of high grocery prices, but that's not the case in the Lincoln-Way area.
Marketing research firm NPD Inc. recently reported that U.S. diners were eating out more now than during the recession when supermarket food prices fell sharply, according to a January Reuters story.
And although economists might be saying the recession is over, area residents still are pinching pennies. In fact, in Frankfort continues to feel the effects of the economic downturn.
“It’s been steady slow,” kitchen supervisor Alyssa Alcantar said of business. “We get a little rush on the weekend, but it’s been pretty dead.”
Traditionally, January and February are slow months for eating establishments in the area, and that hasn't changed for places like in Mokena or in New Lenox.
“I have not noticed any unusual pickup,” said Evan Baden, manager, bartender and server at Charleston's.
However, , a Frankfort sports bar and grill, has seen an increase in customers. But a manager there calls it typical for the time of year, attributing some of the business to its split business format.
“It usually dies down after the holidays and in the middle of February it starts to pick up,” said manager Jessica Brevitz. “But maybe it’s because we’re a bar instead of restaurant that we see a difference like that.”
On those occasions when L-W residents do eat out, they’re mindful of timing and specials. Donna Krofta of New Lenox and her husband, Jim, say they enjoy an occasional meal away from home, but she said she plans carefully to insure it’s not a budget-wrecker.
“When there is a coupon, we take advantage of it,” Krofta said. “We also go to dinner early and make sure we sit down before 4 o'clock. That way, we get lunch prices instead of the dinner prices.”
Dulcinea Hawksworth of Joliet spends most Tuesdays in New Lenox, so that’s the day she tends to eat in restaurants. She gravitates toward there because it offers specials that day. Hawksworth, who writes the for the Channahon-Minooka Patch site, says an occasional meal out makes sense when she’s busy with other projects.
“I find that when you’re short on time, you have to factor that into your cost analysis,” she said.
Although Heather Lloyd of New Lenox also looks forward to eating at Williamson’s, it’s not something she can afford too often.
“It’s still cheaper for my family to eat at home,” Lloyd said, “even when food costs 10 times more here than anywhere else.”