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Restaurants feel effects of strike

Business slows down at industry hotspots

In a town that conducts most of its business over grilled swordfish and creme brule, one of the big questions raised by the writers strike is just how the work stoppage has affected the lunch rush around town.

Studio insiders say the strike has taken a toll on the crowds at the commissaries, if only because there’s not as much happening on the lots these days, thanks to the sudden shutdowns of dozens of TV skeins.

Even when the commissary tables are full, the joie de vivre amid the din of conversation and clanking silverware is gone, or at least severely strained.

“The strike has been a buzz killer,” in the words of one Fox development exec. “You don’t see (senior execs) wining and dining writers and directors like you normally would” during the run-up to pilot season, the exec says.

Another observer on the Sony Pictures lot notes there’s a “muted” atmosphere at that studio’s prime lunch spot, respecting the fact that many people — the folks who rarely if ever get seated at the studio commissary — have very suddenly lost their jobs.

Outside the studio gates, some of Hollywood’s favorite eateries are feeling the pinch of austerity programs (read: cut the pricey lunches) implemented by the major studios and nets since the strike hit.

“Business really has slowed down,” admits Robert Blair, manager of Orso, an anchor of L.A.’s 3rd Street restaurant row. Racquel Rivera, manager of Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills, says the crowds feel “a little down.”

But other hot spots aren’t feeling it, at least not yet. Kim Peak, manager of Melrose Avenue’s Ago, says things actually have seemed a little busier than usual over the past few weeks.

And Margaret Willers, hostess at Angelini Osteria, says the lack of scribe action isn’t likely to have an immediate effect on her regular patrons.

“We mostly have suits in here,” she says.

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