Recession Spot Check: Which Restaurants Are Full?

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 Ssm 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