Steakhouses See Choppy 2012 Sales As Wall Street's Appetite For Pricey Dinners Wavers

For the latest economic indicator you could burrow through a Wall Street analyst’s forecast, or you could peek inside his firm’s favorite steak joint.

Revenue at U.S. steakhouses has been more volatile this year than last as corporate diners, major drivers of steakhouse sales, respond to economic ups and downs; customers splurged some months in 2012 and cut back during others, Bloomberg reports.

For some steak joints, such choppiness is proving to be too burdensome. Earlier this week, Primehouse, a 5-year-old Manhattan steakhouse, announced it was closing its doors. There's no official word yet on why, but a large chunk of the restaurant's business reportedly came from Wall Sreeters and corporate spenders.

Same-store sales are not “near the growth of last year,” Tilman J. Fertitta, the CEO of Landry’s, which owns Morton’s The Steakhouse and more than 100 upscale restaurants, told Bloomberg Wednesday. Fertitta added that corporate-expense diners, who account for roughly 65 percent of Morton’s business, “took the biggest hit during the downturn” and their erratic appetite lately has made 2012 a “bumpy” year.

High-end dining isn’t the only industry fueled by corporate spending that has been rocky since the end of the recession. According to a recent survey by American Express, fewer executives plan to spend more or the same amount on business travel in 2012 than they did last year.



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