Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday Stats - San Jose Restaurant Spending

Bundle is a killer site that aggregates all sorts of financial data across US cities and has a ton of interesting data related to San Jose. Last week we talked about San Jose having the 3rd highest consumer spending in the US. Today let's dig a little deeper and see what we're spending money on.

Since I'm a big fan of eating, I thought restaurants would be the perfect topic to drill down on first. We spend on average $521 per month on dining out, an average of $32 per dine (not per person, but per receipt I'm assuming). Where is this money going? Move your eyes down to the bullets below:
  • Starbucks
  • McDonald's
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • Chili's
  • Round Table Pizza
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Il Fornaio
  • Subway
  • P.F. Change's
  • BJ's
Ouch. Every single restaurant on the list is a chain restaurant. I'm almost embarrassed to see the list. Strike that... I AM embarrassed to see this list. With so many amazing restaurants in the south bay with unique dining experiences, we're spending our money on the crap above? No wonder why we don't have any Michelin Star restaurants in San Jose.

A friend and I were having a discussion last week about eating out. If he goes into a restaurant and orders something he doesn't like, he simply doesn't eat it. He then quickly pays the bill (if they charge him) and goes to another restaurant to order something else. I asked him why he does this instead of just compromising and trying to find something he likes at the restaurant, and he said something really insightful to me. We only get at most 3 meals per day over maybe 60 good years of dining (baring when you are too young or too old to really enjoy and appreciate the food).  Over a lifetime, that is 65,000 meals.  Strike out most breakfasts which most people don't really have a full meal for, and countless quick lunches, and you are really looking at the opportunity to have 35,000-40,000 good meals in a lifetime. My friend doesn't want to waste a single one of those meals on something he doesn't fully enjoy.

So my question to every San Josean is, why waste any of your 40,000 meals on chain restaurants you can eat at anywhere?  Why not try something new and memorable, all the while encouraging restaurants that are more innovative with food than your cookie-cutter chain.  It doesn't have to be expensive.  Just go to Yelp, put in two dollar signs in the filter, and look for the highest rated places in Silicon Valley.  Every week, I try to go to at least one restaurant where I have never been before, and I've had countless experiences that I'll never forget.  It's the weekend, why not go for a little San Jose culinary adventure tonight? =)


  1. I completely agree with supporting local restaurants. It's not some snobby thing that I'm too good for McDonald's (on that list I happen to really like BJ's), it's that the food and experience tend to be better. One thing about this statistic, though: do we spend more on Starbucks than anything else just because there are so many of them? It would be interesting to compare how much San Joseans spend on independent restaurants versus other cities of similar size. I'm sure SF kicks our butts because they try to keep chains out of their borders, but what about say, San Diego?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I'm still getting some clarification on the metrics used to calculate that data, but I do know that most of the data is coming from credit cards. Here are some other lists:

    SAN FRANCISCO (4/10 uber-chains)
    - Starbucks
    - Peets
    - Yank Sing
    - Koi Palace
    - McDonald's
    - Cheesecake Factory
    - Delfina
    - Moonstar
    - RN74
    - Spruce

    SAN DIEGO (9/10 massive chains, 8/10 if you take out Ruth's Chris... I can forgive that one)
    - Starbucks
    - San Diego Wine
    - McDonald's
    - Chili's
    - P.F. Changs
    - Outback Steakhouse
    - California Pizza Kitchen
    - Souplantation
    - Subway
    - Ruth's Chris Steakhouse