Smile as a predictor.


Mario Batali of Del Posto, Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque and
Jean-Georges Vongerichten of Perry St., Nougatine and
Matsugen really really want you to visit.
(Photo illustration by Tony Cenicola, NY Times)


I’m no foodie, but I do know who Mario Batali and Jean-George are — and I’ve certainly heard of Le Cirque. The picture above attempts to put a smile on the harsh economic reality of the NYC restaurants business, but it doesn’t.  I wouldn’t want to have been the photo editor for this piece in today’s New York Times Dining section. If you look beneath these stiff smiles you can actually feel their pain.  

In a recent article about Ben Benson’s Steak House, also in NY, Ben said the first 200 covers pay the bills while the next 25 make the profit. Today, many restaurants are not getting close to the next 25 and if world-famous restauranteurs like these are losing their smiles you can well imagine what’s going on in the family run places. A big NYC restaurant shake out is a coming.