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Friday, May 29, 2009

Profitable Forecasts

Everyone now discusses the current trends with tremendous confidence. The consumer has traveled downstream from upscale to value. Some restaurants are offering smaller portion sizes for lower price points. Value menus remain hot. These trends were not so easy to spot 8 months ago.

I took a walk on King Street in Old Town Alexandria last evening at 7:45 PM. The restaurants farthest from the Potomoc River were slowest. I noted a French restaurant Le Gaulois had closed. Most of the restaurants with entree prices above $25 were nearly empty.

On the other hand, many other restaurants were packed. No seats were empty at Eamonn's a Dublin Chipper. Coffee houses, pastry shops, pubs and focused menu concepts were generally busy.

Would Le Gaulois been saved if they had run weekly forecasts and compared actual results with expectations? They may have seen a drop in covers on normally busy nights and tried a table d'hote option. It would have taken courage but they might have tried a different menu style last fall.

When you look at their 10 Best and Southern Living reviews, its tough to see the storm ahead:
This Old Town favorite offers country French cuisine as comforting as it is delicious. Top menu choices include bouillabaisse, cassoulet, and a hearty pot-au-feu, a pleasing combination of beef, vegetables, and savory spices. The appealing place includes a lovely garden patio and a rustic, French interior. The wine list is full of little-known French offerings, along with local wines, and desserts are as you'd expect, with rich French pastries, mousses, and tarts. (© 10Best)

Request a table out in the courtyard garden full of green trees and blossoming fresh flowers at this restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. The cassoulets are consistent at this French restaurant, but we say splurge for the seafood (especially the scallops), the chef's specialty. (from Southern Living)

The hours of operation and average entree price complete the story:
Mon-Thu 11:30am-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11:30pm, Sun 11:30am-9:30pm
Average Main Course Price: $27.00

The clientele shifted from a splurge attitude to a value attitude in our area. People began tightening their spending habits last fall. We see the impact in this top rated restaurant closing the door.

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