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Area Restaurants to Offer Discounts


With business off considerably at many local restaurants since Sept. 11, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn unveiled a program Thursday to coax Southland residents back to their favorite bistros, pizzerias and other eateries.

So far, 103 area restaurants have agreed to offer 20% discounts on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays through Dec. 20, part of a Dine LA campaign aimed at providing a shot in the arm for an industry that has wilted badly from a drop in tourism and consumer spending.

Participating eateries stretch from the Pig 'n Whistle in Hollywood to Barney's Grill & Pub in Pasadena and Sam's Seafood in Huntington Beach.

The restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit by the fallout from the terrorist attacks. In September and October, an estimated 344,400 waiters, busboys, cooks and other restaurant workers lost jobs in the U.S., said Kristen Short of the California Restaurant Assn., one of the sponsors of Dine LA.

Locally, restaurant sales have slumped about 15% since Sept. 11, with restaurants in tourist destinations such as Anaheim, San Francisco and San Diego absorbing the brunt of the lost business, Short said.

One of the participants, Caffe Luna owner Corine Lorain, said that with sales off 25% from a year ago, she has been offering dinner specials and coupons giving diners 15% discounts.

Unless business begins to pick up at her Los Angeles restaurant, she said, she may have to lay off some of her 55 employees.

"It's not fun right now," said Lorain, who has operated the Melrose Avenue restaurant for 11 years. "We're definitely just hanging on."

Carlsbad restaurant consultant Hal Sieling doubts whether the Dine LA promotion will bring a significant increase in customers, however.

"If the commander in chief can't get people to go out to dinner, I don't think 20% discounts will," he said.

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