Questions of the Day

Why are so many good Pittsburgh restaurants closed on Mondays?

And are others, like me, again tempted to drive to Cleveland to find significantly cheaper air fares to places not served by Southwest?

Comments

15 Responses to "Questions of the Day"

Jonathan Potts said... 8/21/2008 8:43 AM

Is the Party Cake Store in Mt. Lebanon closed on Monday? The one in Brookline is. I had always assumed it was owing to an abudance of family-owned restaurants.

Mike Madison said... 8/21/2008 9:31 AM

Jonathan,

Yes, Party Cake in Mt. Lebanon is also closed on Mondays.

My question was prompted not by neighborhood shops and restaurants, for which the "family-owned" explanation makes sense, but instead by higher end restaurants, for which the "family-owned" explanation is less plausible. For example, Soba Lounge is closed on Mondays. What's up with that?

Jefferson Provost said... 8/21/2008 10:20 AM

Not just cheaper airfares. Cleveland also has more direct west-coast flights. PIT only has a direct flight to LAX. Changing planes in O'Hare/Hartfield/DFW usually adds at least the same amount of time as driving to Cleveland -- especially now that the airlines are running 100% full all the time, so you need to make sure that your layovers are long enough to ensure that you don't miss a connection. And the drive is a lot more pleasant than sitting in O'Hare's cramped gate areas.

Unfortunately, when traveling to the Burgh, flying through Cleveland means renting a car or asking someone to drive all the way up there to pick me up.

Some enterprising person should start running non-stop inter-city bus service between the two airports. Or between Cleveland airport and downtown Pittsburgh.

Mike Madison said... 8/21/2008 10:28 AM

United still flies nonstop to SFO, though only once a day, but I take your point. Other West Coast options no longer exist.

Jonathan Potts said... 8/21/2008 10:57 AM

Mike,

You are right -- that does not make sense. This poses a bit of a chicken-and-egg quandry, but if a lot of neighborhood establishments close on Mondays, and have dones for years and years, it could be that many people in Pittsburgh simply never developed the habit of going out on Monday. Thus, restaurants that would like to stay open find it just isn't worthwhile.

Jonathan

Jefferson Provost said... 8/21/2008 11:36 AM

Huh. So they do. USAirways too.

I looked last fall and the only city I could find any non-stops to was LAX. I've definitely been unable to get non-stops to Seattle, Vancouver, and San Diego.

Is it possible that major flights have been added to PIT's schedule without massive front page news coverage?

Anonymous said... 8/21/2008 3:58 PM

Not enough people go out on Mondays to make being open worth the cost of paying the overhead.

Mike Madison said... 8/21/2008 4:15 PM

Anon's explanation begs some questions:

One is regional comparisons. Do Pittsburghers eat out on Monday less frequently than our peers in other, similar cities? Or is "closed Monday" common in Cleveland, Columbus, and Buffalo?

Two is inertia. Pittsburgh's mid- and high-level restaurant market has expanded considerably in the last decade. Presumably that happened because of demand for dining out that either expanded along the way, or that was unmet all along, or both.

Are restaurants closed Monday because they used to be open but discovered that they lost money? Or have they never been open Monday because they assumed that they would lose money?

Is there any correlation between "closed Monday" restaurants and the time-in-business of restaurants? In other words, are newer restaurants as likely to be open only six-days-as-week as older restaurants are? Are "closed Monday" restaurants simply perpetuating older business models? Or has the rise in demand simply risen six days a week for everyone?

There are other questions, but I've asked enough. I'm still genuinely curious.

Anonymous said... 8/22/2008 10:26 PM

I will try to answer your questions, and elaborate:

1. I don't know about Buffalo, Clvd, etc. But a lot of Philly restaurants are closed on Monday too.

2. Kinda the chicken and egg story. A few points to ponder:

- high end restaurants rely (or at least used to) on Pharmaceutical parties and business dinners. For some reason they don't happen that often on Mondays.

-Experience in the business shows mondays are just a slow night for eating out, ie not enough to make money. We are talking 1/4 of "normal" sales on Monday. For example, Eleven pulls in $300 on lunch on Monday...and it costs $3000 for them to open for for that shift. Eleven can afford to "float" it..smaller restaurants cannot.

- Small rest. owners, that cannot afford to pay/trust another mgr to run their business, need a day off too! That would be mon/tue, not sat/sun like the rest of us!

And finally, hate to break it to you all , but SOBA is open 7 days a wk...UMI on the other hand is closed sun/mon..due to Mr. Shu's (the sushi chef's) schedule. When he is on vacation, the entire place closes for the month. What he says, goes!

jet said... 8/23/2008 12:52 AM

It's US Air that has the non-stops to/from SFO -- United is a code share. Sadly, the return non-stop is often a red-eye depending on the time of year. I do this trip on a routine basis and have met a few other people living the PIT<->SFO life.

However, is driving to Cleveland really better overall once you include long-term parking vs. having a friend drop you off? I've never investigated this, but if it works, there's also the bonus of shopping in Cleveland before driving home.

jet said... 8/23/2008 12:54 AM

Oh, and if Soba's closed/busy, wander down to Harris Grill . It's owned and operated by a bunch of ex-Big people and a great place to grab dinner and a drink. It's not as schmancy as Soba, but it's just as good in other ways. (Tuesday is Bacon Night!)

Jefferson Provost said... 8/23/2008 1:35 PM

Often, I don't mind a red-eye when going west-to-east, because of the time change. The lack of direct flights from SEA means that, when adding in the time change, I'll spend an entire day in transit, leaving home early in the morning and not arriving at my destination til night.

Mike Madison said... 8/23/2008 6:13 PM

I got Umi confused with Soba, that's right. But I think that the broader question still holds.

I've always thought of Philly as a stronger restaurant town than Pittsburgh, even accounting for the size difference. Is that a mis-impression?

Matthew said... 8/27/2008 10:09 PM

I think the "Monday's off" question is similar to another that I had when I moved to Pittsburgh... Why is it that stores are only open late on Thursday evenings? Why not Friday or Saturday when more people are apt to be out and about?

ChrisP said... 8/28/2008 12:23 PM

My theory on the open late Thursdays: People stay later at work on Thursday in order to leave earlier on Friday. I've seen this from numerous people who work in town going back to the late 80s/early 90s. With the rise of alternate work schedules (4X10) and allowance of 1 day of telecommuting among most of the large employers, which is usually Friday by my observation, this is probably even more the case at present.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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