The closest Bennigan’s may be in Santa Clara, and the only other California location in San Diego. (When the Bennigan’s website introduced the new Jameson BBQ grilled items for a limited time only, they had no idea just how limited that time might be.) And there are no Steak & Ale restaurants in California at all. You may have no use in your gastronomic life for a fake Irish bar and grill, or an ersatz old English country inn. But pity, at least, their thousands of employees, as their jobs disappear and trigger more catastrophe in the economy. In Santa Clara, it seems, workers showed up on Tuesday to find the places shuttered. Surprise! And good luck for locals finding another place in the area open until midnight.
But as restaurant chains in the “casual dining” category, one step above fast food, go under, with more to come, can the fine-dining sector be far behind? They’re being similarly “squeezed in all directions,” and in San Francisco, it’s not just the high minimum wage, sky-rocketing food prices, and eaters scared of high prices at the table and at the pump to contend with, there’s the healthcare mandate, sometimes showing up as a surcharge on your bill. Gather ye foie gras and panna cotta while ye may. —Meredith Brody