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Tiffany Montgomery
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Some OC restaurants feeling the slowdown

By Tiffany Montgomery
August 30, 2007 6:05 AM

I talked to Steve Carley of El Pollo Loco who told me the operating environment for restaurants was the worst he's seen since 9/11.
Steve CarleySteve Carley, chief executive officer of El Pollo Loco,
headquartered in Irvine. Photo courtesy of El Pollo Loco.

Carley blamed higher gas prices, rising adjustable mortgages and rising food prices. He said consumers are extremely price sensitive right now, which is pressuring transactions at his 370-restaurant chain.


Several others echoed his thoughts, including executives from Del Taco and Wahoo's, Most said sales are ahead of last year but below plan.


Here's the bad news: Carley doesn't think it will get better any time soon. He's predicting tough times into 2008.


I talked to Carley and others for a story I wrote for this week's edition of the Orange County Business Journal. The story is out this week, and is behind their paid wall. It costs $3 to access and you can find it by clicking on the dining section on the left of their home page.


Even high-end restaurants like Opah are also feeling some pain. Partner Marc Cohen talked to me about it in an earlier post. Here's a link: Opah story


What does it all mean? Hard to tell because some restaurants and retailers are still doing well. But it's patchy out there from what I'm hearing.


It's going to be an interesting Christmas season for retailers and restaurant owners if the economy doesn't bounce back.


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