How important are urban restaurants? This recent article by Eduardo Porter makes the argument that they are a “central pillar of superstar cities.” They are the social spaces that draw young and smart people to cities (see above) and that fuel our creative economy.
According to Eduardo, in the 1970s, urban consumers in US cities typically devoted about 28% of their overall food budget to dining out. As of 2019, restaurants, bars, food trucks, and other dining establishments consumed about 47% of this budget for people living in cities with a population greater than 2.5 million.
By comparison, people who resided outside of an urban area in 2019, spent only about 38% of their food budget on eating out. Still, these are substantial numbers. A big part of the food and drink that we consume is, at least during normal times, happening outside of where we live.
Right now is certainly not the finest hour for cities. Urban amenities (like restaurants) and social networks are part of what make living in a city so enjoyable. And these two things have been greatly (and rightly) reduced. But I don’t for a second doubt the overall resiliency of our cities.
This isn’t their first crisis and, unfortunately, it won’t be their last.
Image: New York Times