Fresno Restaurant Business Facing Hard Times

February 9, 2009 7:58:23 PM PST
The restaurant industry has felt the impact of the economic slump particularly hard. Another Fresno eatery has closed and the chamber of commerce anticipates more problems for the local food industry.Pangea in Fresno's Figarden Village is the latest restaurant to fall in the wake of this bad economy. Patrons and nearby residents were disappointed by the news.

"It's a sign of the times, obviously. It's too bad. Good restaurant," said Fresno's Glenn Durfee.

Richard Johnson said: "I guess it does indicate the economy is and the people are hurting."

Pangea owners were unavailable for comment but told Action News they would honor gift cards and reschedule reservations at their other restaurant Campagnia in Northeast Fresno.

Glenn Durfee hopes other restaurants can hang in there. "I think it's hard to account for what the public will or won't do. It's fickle," he said.

The latest rating from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) warns the health and outlook of restaurants for December was 96.4. That was the 14th consecutive month the number has been below 100. Anything below 100 is considered worrisome for the industry.

California Restaurant Association (CRA) member Lorraine Salazar said restaurants in Fresno struggle attracting consumer's discretionary funds. "We're seeing trading down. So maybe where people would go out to fine dining more often they're going to be more selective and may go to a more casual mid-range restaurant," she said.

The CRA does not keep a list of all restaurant closures. Neither does the Fresno chamber of commerce but president Al Smith said he expects more closures before this recession ends. "Unemployment, all those things impact the amount of money that people spend at restaurants. So people are cautious today they're gonna look at what they have to have, not what they want to have.

Still many residents we spoke to worry if things worsen there will be fewer choices for eating out.

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