Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For a Bad Year, It Wasn't Bad

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 9:06 AM

The economics of running a restaurant are a mystery to me. Cash flow and financing may as well be rocket science, so anyone who gets it right -- even partially-- deserves a genius grant.

click to enlarge Fabulous eggnog latte at Crema stands proudly next to a "brookie" -- brownie on the bottom, cookie on the top -- from Sweet 16th bakery.
  • Fabulous eggnog latte at Crema stands proudly next to a "brookie" -- brownie on the bottom, cookie on the top -- from Sweet 16th bakery.
We stopped by Crema for that dreamy eggnog latte and four bars of Olive & Sinclair chocolate. With coffee this good, people understandably love Crema, and there was a good crowd there at 2 in the afternoon. Pretty good for a luxury item during the holiday season in a neighborhood where there's precious little residential.

Opening a food business in the depths of the recession is brave. Opening a food business that doesn't comport with the neighborhood is brave. Opening a luxury business when spending is down is ... well, either crazy or brave.

And yet Crema -- and so many other local efforts -- seem to be thriving. I'm thinking of Far East Vietnamese, Brio, ChaChah, Cajun Steamer, Local Taco, Drifters. There's Gabby's, crowded despite the off-the-beaten-path location and insane, seemingly unending street construction. And Patterson House, with scant parking, cramped waiting area, mere bar snacks but always a crowd for the spendy drinks.

Out of curiosity, is a plan for opening a restaurant in a recession year something like having a baby: if you waited for a good time, you'd never do it, so just go on and do it now? Or is it like Meet the Robinsons, with the "keep moving forward" mantra?

Whatever inspires you all and keeps you going, my hat is off to you, and the many not mentioned here.

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