OH WHEN, OH WHEN

Last year in that oh-so-wonderful-year of 2009, each day Businessman putting gas nozzle to his head, screaming.we read in the paper or heard on the news or read on internet pages just how bad our economy was doing.  Losing jobs at the rate of 750,000 per month, the unemployment rate going higher and higher.  People out of work meant no discretionary income for some and no income whatsoever for others.  California has seen an unemployment rate of 12%!  This means less people able to eat out at restaurants.  One might think that with the increasing price of movie-going that it too would see a hit but 2009 was a pretty good year for the movie biz and really, I’m not surprised.  What industry took us away from all our troubles in 1930, 31, 32, 33 and beyond?  The movies.  “We’re in the Money” seemed to be the fantasy anthem during the great depression and “Avatar” was just one great escape in this depression.  But going to the movies coupled with dining out became a thing of the past in 2009.  Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills is 2 blocks away from the Academy of Motion Pictures screening room, a half block from the Writers Guild screening facility and just across the street from the “Music Hall” theater which screens independent and foreign films.  Our business for the last 23 years has been fueled by the screenings, premiers and first run films at any one of those venues.  At the end of the film, we would witness a wall of people walking towards Kate’s and here we go again.  2009 changed all that.  We’d see the biggest film screen pre-opening at the Academy with no business following.

So when does it change?

Well, a little this year.  We’re seeing the pre-screening dinner business and once again the post screening late night hit; not as much as during better economic times but definitely happening once again.  And Mother’s Day brunch was the best brunch we’ve seen in five years!  Five years!  Thrilling.  Instead of losing jobs at the above rate, the country is seeing job creation at the rate of 250,000 per month now.  So with that logic in place, when does it get better for the service sector?  Oh… I know the answer!  It comes LAST!

I know this because I was around for 1979, 80, 81 and 82.  Back then high interest rates and high inflation characterized that recession.  Bankruptcies were at an all time high as interest rates, led by then chairman Paul Volker, were artificially made higher and higher to quite literally break the back of inflation that was killing the country’s economy.  It felt like it would never end.  Reagan came into office and his approval ratings dropped to an all time low after his first year (except during the period when he was shot) only because people’s pocketbooks weren’t filling up.  Same thing with Obama.  But as soon as the economy started to improve for the little guy, jobs became present, discretionary income materialized, Reagan was seen to have led us out of the recession.  And then of course, the stock market began its twenty-five year bull run in August of that year.

I’d like to think we’re coming to the end of this recession.  The indicators are saying so.  Manufacturing is up, housing is up, some employers are beginning to feel confident enough to hire… just some.  But retail is not better and that’s where restaurants belong.  There are still some storm clouds up ahead with commercial mortgages and how it effects the economy is anybody’s guess. But we do have better days ahead and from what i recall from past mild recessions, when it comes back, it will do so with a vengeance.

We’re ready!

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