Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving shows no sign of the touted Obama economic recovery in Camden County.

Last year, on Thanksgiving day, Aunt B's rang up 805 meals. That does not count the many children under 4 who ate for free. The line was out the door from opening 'til closing.

This year, I got there at 12:30. Not only was there no line out the door but when I opened the door there was not a soul between me and the register. When I got past the register, I saw the front dining area about 2/3 full. Very few groups had more than four people - mostly older couples. Large families with lots of kids were conspicuously few.

Curious, when I left about 1:20 (no, I was not eating all that time: I talked with Cathy Gentry at some length about the economy) I was very curious to see how other restaurants were faring.

At 1:25, Shoney's had about 12 cars in their lot, including their employees' cars.

At about 1:27, Cracker Barrel was full, as usual. Probably not diagnostic for the local economy.

At 1:30, the lot behind the building at Steffen's was chock-full of employee cars. However, in the customer parking lot out front, there was literally not one single, solitary, car. As I made a u-turn through the lot, nearly the entire staff swirled around on their counter stools hoping I was a live one  - and those poor devils were scheduled to stay open until 4:00!

At 1:45, there were precisely 12 cars in the parking lot of The Borrell Creek Landing - including their employees' cars.

Local grocery stores must have done a lot better this year than last.

Update: I just had guests leave a few minutes ago after bringing me a plate of homemade Thanksgiving food and staying for a nice conversation.

In the course of the conversation, I learned that two large churches in St. Marys hosted free thanksgiving dinners in St. Marys today. A huge number of  Methodists and Baptists who might otherwise have eaten in our restaurants ate for free at their churches today.

That's all well and good but, pastors, perhaps it would be a good idea to phone the above listed restaurateurs next year a good month in advance and let them know of your plans and how many you fed this year so that they might adjust their prepared food volumes and staffing accordingly.  I'm sure they would deeply appreciate it.


Anonymous said...

Well, we can't blame the pastor for helping folks in desperate times, can we?

Let's just hope that those who could afford to pay didn't freeload on the church handouts. The church goers may have also felt like spending the holidays with their like-minded friends this year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you. :)

Jay Moreno said...

No, and I didn't. In fact, you will note that I listed the one dinner for the needy that I knew about.

My understanding though is that these were not particularly for the needy, rather for the entire fairly well off congregations - many of whom would have otherwise patronized local restaurants - particularly Aunt B's.

The Baptist church, I'm told, was actually passing out free dinners to-go throught their "drive through window." (That's what I was told)

This year, Aunt B's cooked for at least the over 800 they served last year. Now, suppose that next year, they cut way back and those churches do not repeat their giveaways. Then you will have many disappointed customers when the food runs out.

Given that such a huge percentage of Aunt B's regulars are church goers (as is evident on any Sunday), it would be an appreciated courtesy for those pastors to alert the restaurants of their plans each year.

My guess is that ALL restuarants who were open this year actually lost money. That's a real shame.

Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine why any restaurant in this County would expect to serve as many people this year as they did last year. I'm sure their business has been down all year, so no reason it would pick up just on Thanksgiving Day. Except for Cracker Barrell, which gets most of their business off the Interstate, I haven't seen any restaurant parking lots over flowing this year.

Jay Moreno said...

Yeah, but in the case of Aunt B's the turn out was less than one sees there on a typical Sunday - probably including this coming Sunday.

Of course, last year, the first year they were open on Thanksgiving, they charged their regular Sunday price, which consumers recognized as one helluva bargain.

This year, when the ladies opted to go up $4.00 (still a good deal in my opinion) they perhaps overestimated the elasticity of the demand for eating out on Thanksgiving.

However, the fact that Steffens had virtually no customers at - what was it - $8.99 - tells me that
a lot of it was the economy, especially for large families.

Anonymous said...

Someone must have know the churches were giving out free food.! It is not up to the pastor's to tell the restaurants what they are doing. If you went to church you would know.
Sounds like you will be eating TURKEY for a while at aunt B's...So being greedy and uping the cost did not help them out at all did it......Enjoy your turkey for the next week or so.

Jay Moreno said...

No, they were not being greedy.

For quite some time now, they have been just barely making and profit at all because of increased food costs. They have refrained from passing those costs on totheir customers.

You did not really expect, a year later, to be able to eat all of the delicious, homemade Thanksgiving dinner you wanted for the same $10.99 as last year, did you?

Their mistake was not charging more last year.

Anonymous said...


You probably scared people away with your restrictions, i.e., correct change, no credit cards, etc. Maybe next year, don't say anything and they will come.

Jay Moreno said...

Nice try, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it. How do you explain the dearth of business at ALL area restuarants which I personally traveled around the county and verified?

You can't but your hatred will not allow you to admit it now will it.

Pollyanna said...

I have not seen any signs of economic recovery here in Camden. Many of our clients are out of work and say there just is not any jobs out there. People are getting creative and using the barter system more. One client told about standing in line at the grocery store and telling the checker that her electricity would be shut off in a few days and she had no money to pay...when she was walking to her car someone called at her and it was the lady that had been behind her in line...she had overheard the conversation with the checker and offered to pay the electric bill for the gal if she could clean the womans house for her. Many may have been blessed to get a free turkey dinner this year and really did not have the money to eat out. Obama does not seem to have any game plan that I can see.