Claim Jumper and the Business Cycle

Claim Jumper is closing many locations, and they have been bought out. If you ask them, they say everything is fine and to not worry your head that they will soon be all gone. Of course, these days, that is exactly what businesses that are going under say, right up until the exact moment that they close the doors for good. (Of course, this is also the same thing that companies not going out of business will say, but so is the result of the age of spokespeople).

We have been big Claim Jumper fans over the years, and hope that they will be around a while. I do understand why they are having trouble, though. They have done the usual thing companies seem to do where they reach success and make a lot of money, but when tastes change they react badly – usually raising prices to compensate for the lost income. I know this happened at Claim Jumper because we used to eat there every Friday while watching the (sadly missed) Battlestar Galactica, until things went bad and all of a sudden there was something like a 20% premium to buy our usual staples.

They lowered their prices again but by the time they did it was too late for us to really get back in the habit. Again, this is something I have seen a lot of times before – a place that was once super-popular (CJ was once the number one restaurant in Orange County) raises their prices, then finally lowers them after everyone has lost interest and then by then it makes things even worse again. It seems like a death spiral for most places, unless they reinvent themselves (I have heard CJ has a new menu, which could help).

So, it remains to be seen if CJ can escape the economy and everything else One thing that I think will also hurt them is their tendency to have super high calorie foods, which is why we stopped going the second time – the pasta we used to share was almost 1,500 calories (not including appetizers, bread, soda, maybe dessert). These days, we people in Cali see the calories on everything we order.

I think this will be a big issue for CJ – my first impulse is to think of calorie-posting as being atypical government boondoggle, but I noticed that on the first post-calorie trip to Red Robin my co-workers and I were succesfully guilted into avoiding 800++ calorie burgers and a lot of chicken was ordered. (Which is sort of horrific given how good the burgers are at Red Robin. But then again it reminded me to bend the diet and not break it, which has to be a good thing).

Can Claim Jumper make a lower-cost, less caloric menu without losing their identity? Will it help if they do, or is the fight already lost? I really have no idea. I do think well of Claim Jumper and still eat there once in a while, plus I am tired of people losing jobs and restaurants closing in general. So, check out their Facebook (though it would be nice if they posted a coupon once in a while), and stop by sometime. We will this weekend, though we are only buying soup and some pretzels (gotta keep those calories down). They do have good food, and great appletinis…

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One response to “Claim Jumper and the Business Cycle

  1. Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the calorie posting, because Claim Jumper was notorious for family sized portions already (hence, why we SPLIT an entree). But I do hope some of them stick around because their pretzels are the best!