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Oakland restaurateur looks back on recession


The economic recession reared its head in all industries, especially in the food industry. It might be the first place where consumers cinched their belts. The USDA reports that during the recession, from 2007 to 2009, we spent less on all food. We spent less on groceries, ate at home more, and went out to eat less.

Back in 2009, we checked in with Le Cheval restaurant in Oakland to see how they had fared the recession. It’s a big downtown restaurant with one large room and high ceilings. One side of the room is for parties with round banquet-size tables seating up to 12 people each. The other side has more intimate seating – two tops, four tops.

The whole place can seat nearly 300, when it’s full. And it was full a lot according to Le Cheval manager, Minh Tran. But the recession wasn’t the only problem for Le Cheval. In 2010, they were forced to leave their spacious location because the building’s owner was approaching foreclosure on the property, a spot Le Cheval had occupied since 1994.

Tran says those times were tough. They moved Le Cheval into a smaller location down the block and kept running under the different name of LCX. But, just over a year later, their old location on Clay Street was bought again, and Le Cheval was able to move right back in. This is where they are today.

Reporter, Sarah Reynolds went back to talk with Tran about how things have shifted for the restaurant over the last couple years. After 28 years in the business, Minh Tran is kind of used to these dips in business, but they’re never easy to take, he says.

Click the audio player above to listen to the report.

What restaurants in your neighborhoods have changed since the recession? Let us know in the comments.

You can check out Le Cheval for yourself at 1007 Clay Street in Oakland.

Find more of Sarah Reynold's work here


CrosscurrentsLe Cheval