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Health of economy is measured in grilled cheese

October 24, 2008 |  5:51 pm

I sure hope no hungry stockbrokers plan to eat me!When the going gets tough the hungry eat at home. The Times reported today that as fears of a global recession grow and stocks continue their turbulent ride, restaurants are feeling the pinch. Particularly hard-hit are chains, which count on repeat visits from hard-working families for their financial health. Read the full story here.

That places like the Cheesecake Factory and Islands are suffering makes me wonder how pricey gourmet restaurants and bars run by star chefs are faring. At what point do the well off begin to pinch their pennies? If a tellingly blithe press release from downtown's ritzy Edison bar holds a partial answer to that complicated question, it would appear that the answer is not just yet.

"Edison Answers the call for your Bail Out and 401 K," reads the subject line for the release. The text continues cheekily (and with erratic -- dare we say frantic -- use of capital letters and punctuation), "Financial markets in crisis; $700 Billion bailout of Wall Street; Global Financial Meltdown! The Edison responds to the crisis with a meltdown of its own. Grilled Cheese Melts, tomato soup and Depression Era cocktails at Depression Era prices.

"The Edison brings much needed respite to those in need. In an effort to restore confidence in the community and its businesses, The Edison introduces the Soup Kitchen, Friday 5-7 PM: to remind everyone to maintain perspective through this financial crisis and to support those truly in need."

Reading that, one is left to wonder who is in need. Do the denizens of downtown L.A. need free soup and sandwiches to offset the losses of their 401(k)s? The release goes on to say that 25% of the night's net profits will go to local food banks and charities, which explains who really is in need. But if that's the case, then maybe Depression Era cocktail prices aren't really the way to go. What's 25% of 30 cents? If you really want to help we suggest you buy your drinks at full price and leave a donation at the door. 

The Edison, 108 W. 2nd St., (213) 613-0000.

--Jessica Gelt

Photo of grilled cheese by Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times