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State of the Plate 2009 

Eat Here Now

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Richmond restaurants, you're getting better at the come-ons. You deduced that a pin-up girl can sell a cocktail, a few dozen hi-def screens can move a ton of beer and wings, and a good band might pack the house even though the licensing fees to play live music cost a chunk of change.

You've cut prices on nightly specials, added brunch by the boatload, punched up Web sites and made over menus to lure us in. You've sharpened your skill at reaching us by e-mail blasts and Myspace and Open Table. Sometimes you've sounded a little desperate for attention — and we understand. Your margins this year have been slim to mostly none in some cases, and you've done the deathwatch while underperforming businesses folded. Some of them went bankrupt and closed without telling staff. Some quietly slipped away, spilling too much red for life support. New projects stalled out for months on end and suddenly it wasn't just the city to blame.

But people gotta eat. And even though it might be a splurge to get much table service in a tanking economy, we have suggestions on both sides of the coin. And believe us, we're paying customers, too. Here, then, our most fervent reasons to eat here now. — Deveron Timberlake

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