Cash-strapped diners firing up home ranges: Zagat

Wed Oct 6, 2010 12:01pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The shaky economy has taken a toll on New Yorkers' love affair with dining out.

They're doing it less often, spending less when they do and are cooking at home more than ever, according to the 2011 Zagat dining survey released on Wednesday.

Respondents to the 32nd annual survey, which bases its ratings for some 2,100 metropolitan eateries on more than 41,000 diners' individual reviews, said they were eating out about three times a week, down 10 percent from two years ago.

More than one-fourth said they were dining out less than just six months ago.

And despite a reputation for using their ovens as mini-storage units, New Yorkers said they were preparing meals at home 6.3 times a week -- an increase of more than 3 percent from a year ago, and nearly 20 percent more often than in 2006.

"New Yorkers are feeling the lasting effects of the economic crisis, and we're seeing some fundamental changes in their dining habits as a result," said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey and its co-founder.

"Since 2008 we've noted a steep decline in the number of meals eaten out per week and an increase in the number of meals cooked at home," Zagat added.

And for the first time since 2002 the average price of a meal out in New York dropped, if only by a few cents, to $41.76, but it is still cheaper than Tokyo, London, Paris and even Las Vegas, with Miami/South Florida not far behind.   Continued...

<p>A sandwich is seen on a plate at a deli in New York December 17, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>