The Valentine's Week dilemma
I've been thinking about the whole idea of the governor's extending Valentine's Day so it will be Valentine's Week. Could it really make any difference?
The scenario would go like this:
Husband: I know I forgot to get reservations for Sunday (Valentine's Day) or buy you a dozen roses and you're angry at me. But Governor O'Malley says it's OK to take you out Tuesday night instead, and I can buy flowers, too, anytime this week. It still counts.
Wife: No, it doesn't. I don't care what O'Malley says. It's not the same. You don't love me anymore. Maybe it's good for the restaurants and florists, but it doesn't cut it with me.
The governor's edict is one sign of a larger problem: Recently I've started to feel pressure to eat out just to keep the restaurants I like in business. ...
No one loves eating out or sympathizes with the plight of restaurants in a recession more than I do. But it's an odd feeling to feel I ought to go out.
After all, most people go out to have a nice evening, not to feel as if they're taking part in a charitable event. And yet I want restaurants to succeed -- I like it that we have so many choices in Baltimore when we want to eat out, and I hate to see the number of choices diminished. It's not just the bad restaurants that get weeded out in circumstances like these.
Here's the restaurateur's point of view, which I got in an e-mail yesterday:
This entire winter, the restaurant industry has been hit probably harder than any other type of business, except maybe traveling. Speaking personally, our ... restaurants lost three Saturdays and one Friday due to snow, and an additional Saturday to Christmas. That's a lot of revenue to lose in a business where managing your cash flow is crucial to your success. In addition, most people in the industry work on either an hourly wage or strictly for tips, so a lot of restaurant employees are feeling the crunch just as badly as the businesses themselves.
I'm writing this letter to encourage everybody who enjoys eating out to pick their favorite establishment and give them some business once you feel comfortable venturing out into the frozen tundra that the Baltimore area has become. I was talking it over with other local restaurant owners and we were saying that none of us would be shocked to see at least a handful of restaurant closings in the coming weeks as a direct result of the revenue lost this winter. Any restaurant that was on the brink could easily be pushed over the edge to a point where it would be impossible to recover. ...
It's hard to argue with him, but I wonder how many people feeling the pinch of a troubled economy themselves will be persuaded by his words not to eat at home tonight.
(Valentine's Week roses by Algerina Perna/Sun photographer)