Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 6:44 PM ET, 01/29/2009

Signs of the Times

By Tom Sietsema

In light of a sour economy, Michel Richard Citronelle is cutting its hours and staff. Earlier this month, the modern French restaurant in Georgetown stopped serving dinner Sunday and Monday and began the process of reducing its kitchen and dining room crews. Dinner is now offered Tuesday through Saturday; as many as 10 staff may be sidelined.

Spokesman Mel Davis says such reductions are not uncommon for luxury establishments. She also notes that the early part of a new year is traditionally slow for the industry. But whereas most restaurateurs can anticipate robust business in the spring and beyond, "this year, no one is so sure." On a more ominous note, when asked if chef Michel Richard's labor-intensive menu would change, she responded with a pause. "Not yet."

Will other top-tier restaurants follow suit? Business at Restaurant Eve was down 20 percent from a year ago in January, but chef-owner Cathal Armstrong has thus far resisted staff cuts. Instead, to trim costs, he says he's sending employees home earlier and reducing the restaurant's wine inventory. At the youthful Volt, chef-owner Bryan Voltaggio recently stopped serving dinner on Tuesday and let a sous chef go.

The belt-tightening hasn't stopped him from thinking big, however. Just after Christmas, Voltaggio installed a custom-made stainless steel table for four in his kitchen, at which he introduced a 21-course menu of small dishes for $121.

He's calling it (what else?) Table 21.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | January 29, 2009; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: DJs Are Not Rock Stars (Unless They Are)
Next: Coming Soon: Bars Opening in 2009

Search Going Out Guide for More Events

By Keyword

No comments have been posted to this entry.

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company