Recession Spot Check: Which Restaurants Are Full?

Industry wisdom says that bars are always busy during a recession, while people refrain from dining out. But is that actually true? We checked out several Manhattan restaurants, each at two different times -- a recent Wednesday and Saturday, during a window from 8 to 9 p.m. -- to see who was busy, and who was refolding napkins all night. S

ome results of note: Dovetail, home of the $88 tasting menu, was near capacity on a Wednesday night, as was the private dining room. But poor Secession had only seated eight diners at around 8 p.m. on that same night. Pastis was packed last Saturday, but Hearth could have seated 36 more people. Fickle times! Check out our chart to compare crowds.

Schiller's9010About 15 at the bar964At or around the bar: 46
Spitzer's Corner8535 1468Full, save 2 empty booths in back
Shang70About 60Approximately 20 at the bar666417 at the bar
Back Forty5025 6310 
Hearth6927 60208 at the bar
Secession872   Closed for private party.
Momofuku Ssam4134 5646 people waiting
10 Downing5510 650 
Da Silvano4035Inside only732Inside only
Otto16416 1755 
Scuderia937 8812 
Le Cirque36About 5022 in bar area771830 in bar area
Dovetail705Including private dining room6114Not including private dining room
Fatty Crab UWS578 704Wait for 2 at 8:45: 45 minutes
West Branch13003 mid-size parties waiting11218 

Previously on's Grub Street...

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