Is it just me or does anyone else notice that restaurants are less crowded these days? My family eats out a lot. Both the wife and I work late and we often don't feel like cooking. We like the popular spots like Olive garden, BJ's, Chili's, Mimi's etc. These places usually had a short wait most evenings and on a Friday or Saturday it would be 30 minutes to an hour usually. In the last couple of months I've noticed there is hardly ever a wait during the week and often the places are half empty. This is not good. I remember the same thing happening in 93-95 and lots of businesses folded up back then.
I've even noticed this at lunch time. I work in Anaheim and sometimes go over to the Block at Orange for lunch. It's a nice place to eat and do some "bird watching". It used to be very crowded and finding an outside table to eat was always a problem. The last several times I've eaten over there the place has been nearly empty. It's spooky empty! Even today, a perfect afternoon it was less than 1/2 full, way less. We talked to the owner of the local Quiznos a couple of weeks ago and he told us his July and August sales were down 30% after we mentioned how slow it was in there.
I've also noticed fewer cars in the Fastrak lanes. I used to hit heavy traffic near the toll booths almost every day. In the last couple of months there have been very few days when I get held up. It looks like people are finally trying to spend less.