The larger-than-life Pump Room, where everyone from Sinatra to Judy Garland are counted among the celebrity guests, is downsizing. "Like other hotels in the Chicago area we've had to rethink our fine dining experience," Paul Lauritsen, general manager of the Ambassador East, home of the Pump Room, tells the Sun-Times' Dave Hoekstra.
The bar will remain open and feature a lighter bistro menu, but the main dining room will be shuttered except for special occasions.
Watch the line of recalibrating restaurants to continue to grow this year as the economy remains sluggish and even mom and pop cafes wade through how to keep the cash register ringing. This week, Ina Pinkney said her Ina's, 1235 W. Randolph St., decided to suspend dinner service for the winter season.
In an email, Pinkney writes: "We have worked smarter...and have sustained through the economic struggles that hit the hospitality industry so hard. And we want to be stronger when this storm subsides."
While it was a dinner staple, Pinkney says her fried chicken will now be on the breakfast and lunch menu: next to some nice hot crispy waffles, a la Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles, 3947 S King Dr. in Chicago.
Interestingly, it's not just the recession, according to the market research NPD Group. The Food Network and other cooking shows have had a profound effect on where Americans dine, research shows.
"People are eating at home more, but they're not cooking at home more," said NPD Group Kim McLynn noting that folks may decide on take-away foods from local restaurants or they get prepared dishes from the supermarket.