Austerity vs. Growth

I like good beer. That’s been well established. There are two good local beer joints that I go to. Both are more or less on the way home from work. Both have a good and always changing beer menu. Both have WiFi (one better than the other). Both have friendly bartenders.

So either one is a nice stop on the way home from work. Have a beer, finish some work, chat with the bartender, go home.

One of them has been around forever and I’ve been going there for about 16 years. Most of the bartenders are the same. The other place is newer, but I’ve probably been going there for 5 years. It’s safe to call me a regular in both places.

With the bad economy, both places were affected. And they reacted in completely opposite ways.

The older place went with austerity. Prices went up. Food portions got a little smaller. One chef got let go (with an accompanying decline in food quality). Bartenders got new strict buy back policies (i.e. don’t). Bartenders were no longer allowed to hang out after work (can’t have the help getting free drinks).

The newer place went the other way. More promotions. Free wings on Mondays. Free cheese and crackers on Wednesday with wines $1 off. More promotions with local breweries. Plenty of buy backs.

Now it’s not like I can see either bar’s balance sheet or know the real cost drivers. But this really does seem to be a microcosm of austerity vs. spending policies. The older bar may be saving money, but fewer people are coming so their revenues have to be down even with the price increases. The other place is packed. Revenues have to be up despite the promotions.

There’s a lesson here, having nothing to do with beer…

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