Reasonable Prices + Comfort Food = Recession Immunity?


That’s more or less the message of a Crain’s profile of Dan Warren, the restaurateur who opened the East Village’s Common Ground in 2005 and the West Village’s West 3rd Common last December. Warren explains to Crain’s that if “you run a restaurant in a low- to middle-price range in New York City, you’re almost immune to the recession.”

Warren’s basic formula for success — annual revenues at Common Ground are in the neighborhood of $1.5 million — goes something like this: make good food, hire dedicated and well-trained chefs, and follow a careful cash plan. His simple strategy runs counter to the perception that the restaurant business is a risky one, as do the statistics: as the article points out, last year there was an almost 11 percent increase from 2008 in the number of new restaurant permits granted across the city, and only 0.5 percent, or 166, of city’s 34,457 independently owned restaurants went bust. If Warren’s experience is any indication, then it may be that the spate of chefs restaurateurs “dumbing down” their new ventures may fall more squarely within the category of wising up.

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