Mike McKibbin

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March 27, 2013
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Eating out is what we do

So, have you dined at one or more of the new restaurants that recently opened in Rifle and environs?

Many people have, judging by what I see everyday in Remington Square, where the Citizen Telegram office is located and where Dicky's Barbecue Pit opened on March 14. The parking lot is usually full during the lunch hour and sometimes beyond. Dinner seems to be attracting families as well.

And there were very few empty tables on Tuesday at Jay's, where I went to talk to Jay and Karen Walters and chef Mike Meadors for the story you can read in today's Telegram. They opened that steakhouse on Saturday, March 23 to a full crowd.

And back on St. Patrick's Day, Grady Hazelton and crew opened the doors to Mulligan's at Rifle Creek Golf Course. Hazelton has operated WingNutz for many years and been pretty successful, too.

I may have missed a few others. If so, my apologies.

What's sparked what seems to be a rush to get at our dining dollars?

It might be a nationwide trend has arrived in Rifle, if some online research is a good clue.

Seems Americans are going out to restaurants more, spending nearly as much in 2011 as before the 2008 recession, according to George Washington University.

Government figures show the average household spent $2,620 dining out in 2011. That was nearly as much as in the record year of 2008, when we spent an average of $2,698 per household.

I also found Americans are spending their dollars eating out an average of four or five times a week.

In a Sept. 19, 2011 story on UPI.com, (I remember UPI when it competed with Associated Press for the news media's business, but you never see a UPI story in any newspaper anymore, do you?) The LivingSocial "Dining Out" survey of 4,000 online Americans found the most popular restaurant meal is lunch, with 2.6 meals eaten on average each week - both carryout and dining - followed by 1.4 sit-down dinners per week and .8 brunch or breakfast meals per week. (Not sure how you can eat less than a full brunch or breakfast, but that's what the study apparently found. Averaging, I guess.)

Nearly half of respondents described themselves as "meat lovers," 22 percent said they had a "sweet tooth" and 19 percent described themselves as "fast food junkies."

By comparison, 18 percent described themselves as "health nuts" and 5 percent as "vegetarians or vegans," the survey said.

Thirty-five percent said they were "experimental eaters," 25 percent were "foodies," and 11 percent were "locavores," or lovers of local food.

Sixty-five percent said they favor Italian cuisine, 62 percent Mexican, 59 percent Chinese and 58 percent pizza. (Isn't pizza Italian? I guess not for some time, really.) When asked which new type of restaurant they'd most recently tried, Thai finished on top, beating out 25 other types of cuisine.

I wonder if any of Rifle's new restaurants did any research like this to help them decide how to get people to eat at their fine dining establishments? Probably something similar but a lot more detailed, I'm sure.

We can all recall past restaurants in Rifle and other areas that didn't seem to last too long. But counter to what has been the common belief - that restaurants are the businesses that fail the most - a study by Ohio State University found the national independent restaurant failure rate is close to one out of four, or 26 percent, in the first year. And the longer they stay in business, the lower the failure rate.

As the saying goes, food for thought the next time you visit one of the area's fine dining establishments.

In case you were hungry.

Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 27, 2013 06:08PM Published Mar 27, 2013 06:07PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.