Recession Spot Check: Which Restaurants Are Full?

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Industry wisdom says that bars are always busy during a recession, while people refrain from dining out. But is that actually true? We checked out several Manhattan restaurants, each at two different times — a recent Wednesday and Saturday, during a window from 8 to 9 p.m. — to see who was busy, and who was refolding napkins all night. Some results of note: Dovetail, home of the $88 tasting menu, was near capacity on a Wednesday night, as was the private dining room. But poor Secession had only seated eight diners at around 8 p.m. on that same night. Pastis was packed last Saturday, but Hearth could have seated 36 more people. Fickle times! Check out our chart to compare crowds.





 
Wednesday
Saturday


Restaurant
Seated
Empties
Notes
Seated
Empties
Notes




Schiller’s
90
10
About 15 at the bar
96
4
At or around the bar: 46


Spitzer’s Corner
85
35

89
31
At the front bar, 46


Shang
70
About 60
Approximately 20 at the bar
66
64
17 at the bar


Back Forty
50
25

63
10



Hearth
69
27

60
36
8 at the bar


Secession
8
72



Closed for private party.


Momofuku Ssäm
41
34

56
19



10 Downing
55
10

65
0



Da Silvano
40
35
Inside only
73
2
Inside only


Otto
164
16

175
5



Scuderia
93
7

88
12



Le Cirque
36
About 50
22 in bar area
77
18
30 in bar area


Dovetail
70
5
Including private dining room
61
14
Not including private dining room


Fatty Crab UWS
57
8

70
4
Wait for 2 at 8:45: 45 minutes


West Branch
130
0
3 mid-size parties waiting
112
18