Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Raw Economics

Brad came home from a business trip tonight--a short one, Deer Valley, UT for 3 days--and so while the kids tackled him and tied him up with robe ties and the three of them slammed each other into rugburn nirvana, I drove out to pick up sushi at the local joint.

This place is a solid place; a local, lowkey Valley place. Sarah Michelle Gellar used to frequent it back in her Buffy days. For years, getting in meant a wait; and though the wait has dwindled in the last couple of years (it's been eclipsed by Sushi Katsu-ya down the street) nevertheless it was always boisterous, a battalion of chefs in black regalia whittling slabs of fish into delicate swaths of color and texture.

Tonight, the battalion stood at attention as I walked in. Really. A long line of them behind the bar looked up expectantly when I whoosed open the door.

Three tables were occupied--a single diner at one and two forlorn couples. The place felt cavernous.

We've heard a lot about gas prices taking a bite out of spending money. It's true. But it's also a symbol, the extra expense that tipped the local sushi joint from informal dinner to luxury.

Perhaps people are driving the extra mile (literally) for prepared cali roll from TJs.

Like so many restaurants coping with skyrocketing costs, this former cash cow is trimming costs where it can. The texture of the tuna rolls was totally different. There must be some kind of filler. Some places have decreased portion size (an honesty I respect--I prefer high quality even if it means I eat less of it). My favorite coffee, Stumptown, has kept its prices steady but decreased the bag size from 1 lb to .75 lb. That's a 25% price increase.

Apparently sales for high-end lipsticks surge during economic downturns. People are looking for a little retail therapy, a little pick-me-up, that you can eek out over many days. Like lipstick and bags of coffee beans.

Sushi by definition doesn't last. It's ephemeral, a play for your eyes, nose, and mouth that asks you to take it right away. There's no tucking sushi into the fridge and making it last.

Which may be why the battalion's sushi knives weren't flashing tonight.

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