Business at Connecticut restaurants has dropped this year between five and thirty percent according to the Connecticut Restaurant Association. The economy is impacting a wide variety of eating spots from pizza joints to upscale dining rooms. Some of the restaurants have turned to gimmicks to attract more customers.
The Hook and Ladder restaurant in Hartford now offers half-price entrees. The owner said he has been aggressively emailing coupons to customers in an attempt to lure repeat business. Grant's restaurant in West Hartford has begun offering a three-course dinner for a fixed price.
At Barcelona, a Spanish-themed restaurant in West Hartford, the emphasis has been on giving customers more reasons to spend their shrinking dollars. "It all comes down to having a good time," asserts Chips Ferrarese, General Manager at Barcelona. "The difference is enjoying yourself when times are tough," he added.
NBCConnecticut.com found some diners are opting out of big-ticket menu items and scaling back when it comes time to place an order. West Hartford's Pam Paydos told us she eats a little before she leaves the house. "We'll typically go out and have something to eat before we go out for cocktails." She said she is less likely to order a complete dinner these days compared to before the economy began to sour.