In weak economy, some local restaurants doing better than others

By: Shalah Sasse Email
By: Shalah Sasse Email

News 12 This Morning, January 29, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.-- Cheryl White eats out three times a week. It used to be even more, whether it was going to a nice restaurant or hitting the drive-thru.

"Grab something to eat and go back to work wherever I'm going, now because of the economic conditions, I'm making the point to either eat breakfast or dinner at home, instead of hitting the restaurants spending that extra $12, $15," Cheryl White said.

The Cracker Barrel on Belair Road in Evans opened up in the middle of the struggling economy. The general manager says they're hanging on, and have not seen a dip in business. But the servers have noticed a decrease in tipping.

"I would say they're really ordering the same food. Like I said, sometimes they're looking for a cheaper way to ring it up. I can remember yesterday for instance, we had a family and we checked out four different ways to ring up their french toast and bacon, because they wanted to make sure they had the cheapest way," Cracker Barrel Manager, Joe Clement said.

The cheapest way or a different way of ordering.

"A lot of people like to order off the kids menu because it comes with a drink. And a lot of people that come in here are a little bit older, and they can't eat that much anyway, so it would be a waste for them. So I don't know if they're on a budget, but that's how it is," Cracker Barrel Server, Wendy Hammack said.

But some people are cutting back. Olive Garden says in the last 6-8 months, their servers have noticed lower tips, but business is still going strong.

Over in North Augusta, it's a different story at Al's Family Restaurant. They've seen a 25-30% decrease in customers in the last ten months.

"Well I deal with a lot of elderly customers, especially during lunch and supper time. They used to come in and buy two dinners, now they buy one dinner and they split it," Al's Family Restaurant Owner, Butch Bone said.

It's a tough situation, trying to deal with losing customers because of the economy, and trying to hang on to all your employees at the same time.


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