How would you describe the dining scene in Salem Oregon?
Posted by Salem Man
A poll of eatsalem.com readers shows people believe that restaurants in Salem are getting better. If competition is good, it's been great for Salem. People are flocking toward new restaurants like Word of Mouth, La Capitale and French Press while long time restaurants are expanding and improving service. Willamette Noodle Company has opened a bigger dining room downtown and Venti's new location includes a popular bar downstairs. Jonathan's has gone through some financial trouble but with new owners will probably be in the race again soon. First Wednesday is proving to be successful, with crowds of people seeking out the downtown experience year round. Looking toward the future, new developments like the Meridian are sure to offer more high end dining within walking distance for many residents. If you've seen our skyline lately there lots of new development happening in and around downtown.
When I put the poll up, I already knew what the answer would be. It really is an obvious change here in Salem and I hope that it continues going in this direction. The competition is good for everyone including customers and restaurant owners. It's a snowball effect where consumers are choosing to dine out instead of cooking at home while restaurants are seeing a larger customer base. The economy, of course, is dampening the effects of the increased competition but restaurants are finding efficiencies and looking for new customers. Apizza out in Stayton gained a reputation as a destination restaurant but has started catering toward local customers with lunch specials including Italian subs for $2.50. The owner of Apizza told me via email,"we're in fine financial shape, just not too profitable at the moment."
Another positive sign on the horizon is a federal payroll tax cut that should pad people's paychecks by $13 a week. It's part of President Obama's plan to steadily stimulate the economy. I like to call this the "restaurant stimulus" because I think this extra money will make it easier for families to dine out at least one more time each month. Restaurants in turn hire more people, buy more produce and supplies and the economic engine revs up again. This could really be a boon for the Willamette Valley if people and restaurants continue to choose and buy local produce to use as ingredients in their meals. That's the hope anyway.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours? Why do you believe the restaurant scene is getting better? How can we continue to improve it? If you're a restaurant owner, what are you doing to attract more customers?