David Chang on Stage at the New York Times Conference

The “Affordable Restaurant” Apocalypse

Likening the rise of food halls in America to Singapore’s hawker stalls, David Chang told a crowd of urbanists this week that he foresees fewer restaurants in the middle of the market. “You’re gonna see the mom and pop restaurant in New York City not vanish completely, but it’s gonna be way more difficult,” Chang said during a panel at The New York Times Cities of Tomorrow conference in Manhattan.

He predicted the market will skew toward more affordable dining at food halls on the low end, and expensive, luxurious restaurants on the high end. The types of independent, one-off restaurants where dinner costs $40-$50 per person are becoming harder for restaurateurs and chefs to justify financially. “No one wants to do it anymore,” Chang said. They are dying off because of unsustainable rent hikes, higher minimum wage, increased food cost, and more, and restaurateurs are struggling to find ways to cope.

If you look at the reasons why this is happening in the USA, it’s not difficult to see that these are the same issues facing restaurateurs in the UK also. Add in business rate hikes and similar policy decisions being taken in the UK to what we see in the USA under Trump and you may see this trend repeated here also.