When I’ve been thinking about restaurants of late, one thought always comes to mind: that of anxiety.

The restaurants I enjoy the most are the ones that typically get hit the hardest in bad economic times. These are the mid-range restaurants that have entrees that run between $10-$20 dollars. When unemployment goes up and wages start to stagnate, these are the places that typically see the largest decline in customers.

I’ve been seeing two responses to this slow down in business. The first one is that a restaurant may change their approach to their food, either by changing the menu, or more dramatically, changing the chef.

This has happened at one of Tara and my go-to places. I’m sure that everyone has a go-to place; that one restaurant where, if inspiration or motivation doesn’t strike hard, a place that is the safe bet. It’s a fall back position that promises good food.

Our go-to place changed chefs recently. The results have been less than pleasant, to the point where it has lost its go-to status. I hate not being able to support a local place that used to show much promise. But like most relationships, it has to come to an end. The quality of their food and their service has suffered to the point of making the place unenjoyable.

If I am not the only person to have noticed the degradation of quality, it will mean that they will eventually get to the second response to an economic slow-down. They will close.

The closing of a regular restaurant always makes me sad. I worry about the staff who I’ve gotten to know over the course of the years, and think about the economic impact on the community as a whole. A closed store means less money into a region. This is never a good thing.

As we find ourselves in the midst of this recession, I find myself worrying about these places more and more. It’s tough to say to folks to keep going to these places when budgets may not allow for it. But in these times, keep your go-to restaurants in mind. For they may not be around for that much longer.