>The bubbly may sparkle on New Year’s Eve at the nation’s restaurants, but business itself is expected to be essentially flat — despite signs the economy is improving.
Nationwide, restaurants are expecting a 1% drop in patrons Dec. 31 compared to last year. That’s about the same amount of decline in business for all of 2010, according to the NPD Group.
Todd Johnson, general manager of Lawry’s the Prime Rib in Beverly Hills, said his restaurant is offering patrons a champagne toast at midnight, but no extravagant party.
“Eating out is for the most part discretionary income,” Johnson said. “And discretionary income is pretty discretionary these days for many of us.”