How an economist looks at good eats.

Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University and avowed foodie, has a great article in this month's Atlantic: "Six Rules for Dining Out." Although his rules might be helpful for finding good eats for cheap, his perspective is what I found most fascinating. Cowen employs economic drivers to decode what's likely to be best or bust. And no surprise that a supply and demand perspective applied to dining leads to some surprising conclusions.
Low-rent restaurants can experiment at relatively low risk. If a food idea does not work out, the proprietor is not left with an expensive lease. As a result, a strip-mall restaurant is more likely to try daring ideas than is a restaurant in, say, a large shopping mall. The people with the best, most creative, most innovative cooking ideas are not always the people with the most money. Many of them end up in dumpier locales, where they gradually improve real-estate values.
It's like psychologist Daniel Kahneman breaking ground--and winning a Nobel Prize--in economics. Outsider thinking often shakes things up. And it often wins.


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