Eat Salem Readers Optimistic About Salem's Dining Scene

How would you describe the dining scene in Salem Oregon?

Posted by Salem Man
A poll of 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?


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I always thought that Salem had plenty of "chain" restaurants, but they needed a bit more quality local eateries. I think that the opening of all these great little local restaurants and the success of them shows that Salem will support good, high quality restaurants. In fact, we are off to breakfast at WOM. Keep it up and we will come.

AMY said...

I've been here 3.5 years and in that time I've seen improvement. Big improvement. There are new players, and some old players have worked to expand or improve. There's still room to go, though, and I hope that we'll see a continued increase in variety.

Anonymous said...

I voted for "Getting Better" even though I eat out far less than I did a couple of years ago, due to a change in life situation.

It's nice to get a great meal when I do go out, and more options make that possible.

Also, having this blog to refer to ahead of time helps tremendously!!!

jeff said...

I'm definitely seeing some improvements - especially in the "2 eat for less than $50" zone.

OTOH, I hope you weren't being serious about that $13/wk meaning anything significant.