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Some Los Angeles-area dining establishments usually bustling with moguls, agents and stars are starting to see a downturn in patronage as a result of the slumping economy, according to a report in today's Los Angeles Times.

At Melisse, one of three Michelin Guide two-star restaurants in Southern California, the flow of diners slowed down almost overnight. "Just in the last two weeks you get the feeling that everything has changed," chef-owner Josiah Citrin (pictured) told the paper
Some Los Angeles-area dining establishments usually bustling with moguls, agents and stars are starting to see a downturn in patronage as a result of the slumping economy, according to a report in today's Los Angeles Times.

At Melisse, one of three Michelin Guide two-star restaurants in Southern California, the flow of diners slowed down almost overnight. "Just in the last two weeks you get the feeling that everything has changed," chef-owner Josiah Citrin (pictured) told the paper.

At the same time, costs for staples such as milk, butter and flour have gone up, the later by as much as 60 percent, according to the report. What's more, a half empty restaurant can cost nearly as much to staff as a full one.

The economic effects are similar at other L.A.-area A-list eateries, including Tom Colicchio's Craft, where he tries to cut costs by turning off lights and air conditioning after hours. The chef advises restaurateurs, however, never to lower their standards.

"If you're a quality restaurant, you have to continue to meet those standards," he tells the Times. "If you don't, you're going to lose customers and they won't come back when times get better."