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Earlier this week the NPD Group, a market research firm, reported a shift in diners’ behavior when it came to eating out at quick-service and family-style restaurants. It seems the slowly warming economy is also warming diners’ attitudes towards spending at these venues, a reversal of trends prevalent over the past 11 months in which restaurant-goers held tight to their wallets, seeking deals and savings.
Total restaurant traffic in these establishments, however, is still down compared with this time last year, so no one should break out the Cristal just yet. But at least things are moving in the right direction, good news both for patrons and restaurateurs.
On a personal level, I know I’ve pulled back my own restaurant spending significantly in the past year and have found great pleasure in cooking more meals at home. Shopping and cooking from scratch will always form the mainstay of my family’s dining routine, and I don’t generally fuss at the labor involved. But, to be honest, as the economic recovery kicks in a bit more aggressively, I’ll look forward to putting down the skillet a little more frequently, grabbing the kids, and heading out for a nice, relaxing meal. There’s a sushi place 10 minutes away, and if I listen closely, I swear I can hear it calling my name.