The great food coma

Darren D'Altorio

Well, folks, here we are, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps in the midst of an economic depression, recession, crisis, downturn, etc. I don’t even know what to call it these days.

Truthfully, I don’t even care anymore.

I’m hoping the ancient Mayans were right and this world implodes in December 2012, erasing all debt along with our meaningless existence on this planet.

Ah, wishful thinking.

Despite the severity of our economic condition, life must continue. In the collapse of American capitalism, from the automobile to the music industry, businesses are attempting to rally, dreaming up new ways to persevere and survive in the future.

Car companies are pushing green engine technology, and retailers are hawking goods as if every day is Black Friday.

But one industry is ahead of the curve in these tough economic times – the food business.

In a way never before witnessed, restaurants are turning a bad economic crisis into a beautiful marketing tool. Many food establishments, locally and nationally, are offering recession specials and economic stimulus deals.

Leave it to America. This is the only country that would readily exploit an economic collapse in hopes of salvaging some commercial gain.

It’s not an entirely new concept. After the Sept. 11 attacks, commemorative coins, DVDs, T-shirts, buttons and patches sold like hotcakes. And created an entire business around natural disasters, featuring “I survived . ” shirts, hats, buttons, mugs and magnets for every hurricane that wreaked havoc on U.S. soil in the past decade.

The restaurant business’s approach is classier than these disaster-profiteering efforts. In a time when people are cutting back on spending, restaurants saw an opportunity to provide their service but market it with a satirical approach.

In the late 1920s, there were the infamous photos of bread lines wrapping around street corners in New York City. The modern day equivalent is the 40 minutes people spend waiting for a table at a restaurant to gobble up a three-course-for-$25 deal.

In Cleveland, a city cloaked in economic despair, some of the best deals can be found.

According to the Plain Dealer article, “Best of Cleveland: Recession-busting deals” by Laura DeMarco, top chef Michael Symon is offering his gourmet Lolita burger for only $5 at Lolita. Also, The Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Cleveland offers a six-for-$6 deal, including wine and fish tacos. The Touch Supper Club even has free sushi on Friday nights.

Locally, Bistro on Main in Kent offers “The Original Cheap Date Night” on Wednesdays. For $30, guests can get a bottle of wine or pitcher of beer, salads, a pizza and dessert.

Similarly, The Rusty Nail in Twin Lakes has an “Economic Stimulus Dinner Package” on Mondays.

The recession deals have hit major metropolitan cities like New York and Boston, too, where deals at five-star restaurants make fine dining accessible to any person who saves his or her quarters for a week.

Restaurants are a volatile industry. The failure rate of restaurants eclipses the success rate. So in a time when owners could throw in the towel and chalk it up to the depression or trying times, they are finding ways to stay afloat and create value for their customers.

It’s good to make the best out of a bad situation. Thankfully, restaurant owners understand this concept.

Now, if someone would just figure out that Kent doesn’t need another sub shop, we’d be just fine.

Darren D’Altorio is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. If you want to share more depression deals, contact him at [email protected] or post comments at