Tom Friedman tells diners, Go home!


Remeber after September 11, when George Bush asked every American to reach into his wallet and spend, spend, spend? In today's Times column local-guy-made-good Thomas Friedman tells restaurant goers to go home and eat.

I go into restaurants these days, look around at the tables often still crowded with young people, and I have this urge to go from table to table and say: "You don't know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn't be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home."

It's hard to say how the economic downturn has affected local restaurants. When my cousins told me they'd secured a reservation at 112 Eatery for 7 p.m. on a Saturday night with three hour's notice, I started to panic--but it turned out another party had cancelled. Whew! I've heard things are slow, but certainly haven't found myself greeting any empty dining rooms recently. I'm no economist, but I'm wondering which tactic diners are taking: Go out more to help keep restaurants afloat (Bush), or rein things in and eat at home (Friedman)?