Middle class brands collapse, 1% brands thrive

Evidence of the widening wealth gap: Across America, brands that serve middle class customers are shutting down, while businesses that serve the rich are thriving. Good bye $16.50 dinners at Olive Garden, hello $71 checks at Capital Grille. (via Mitch Wagner)

Notable Replies

  1. It's a question of financial tributaries.

    Without the 99 rivulets running into the 1%-serving companies, they could not function.

    Buy local, buy small, keep your money from flowing into stock market coffers, and thence to capital returns and dividends for wealth holders.

  2. thecat says:

    I'd like to think this is because the brands that are serving middle class customers aren't good. I could get a real (healthier) meal for the same price as gutmaker Olive Garden without the compromise and mass-produced food from a neighborhood guy. Evidence? Gonna need more.

  3. As a commenter said on the same-topic thread over at outsidethebeltway.com,
    "Olive Garden and Red Lobster are low-information choices".

    So while I find the article generally believable, I think some of the missing customers are now browsing Yelp for reviews, and exploring choices outside the visibility of the uber-Darden.

  4. Chain restaurants suck. That is likely the true key to their demise.

  5. I think that's definitely true for some of us. I'd much rather cook dinner at home for $5-10/person1 and have an occasional $50-100/person fine-dining meal than eat anything at Olive Garden or similar places, ever. Based on my relatively limited experience, I would even take low-end fast food (preferably independent not chain) over the sit-down "family restaurants" like Olive Garden, Outback, Applebee's, etc.

    Of course, when eating out or ordering in, it's best to have options that are delicious, high-quality, prepared by people who care, and don't cost a bundle. Places that meet all those criteria are relatively scarce but I've never had too much trouble finding them in larger cities. I'm sure there are places where that type of thing is very thin on the ground, though.

    1 And $10 still goes a long way in home cooking, even with food costs rising as they are.

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