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Fewer Jerks Opening Restaurants?


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#1 Rail Paul

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 03:31 PM

NY Post critic Steve Cuozzo notes the dearth of new, really terrible restaurants in NY and elsewhere. He posits that investors are no longer entranced with the idea of opening a new restaurant with the next hot tattooed guy or gal. They've lost enough money in other ventures, that they don't have cash burning a hole in their pockets for an extended living room.

So, investors are being more careful. Demanding management and a viable concept, not just an idea.

Whether this is a temporary phenom, or whether it's a trend? who knows?

A funny thing happened on the way to this rant: It turned into a (sort of) rave. I set out to whine about the dispiriting scarcity of new openings by big-league owners and chefs. But a look back over my past 12 months’ reviews (and those of other critics) revealed a remarkable fact: The Great Recession has been a great editor, scaring off amateurs and out-of-towners who think a restaurant here is as easy to open as a lemonade stand on a suburban cul-de-sac.

There will always be an Ember Room to give us a howl with its mixed-up waiters, creepy-looking elephant and fossilized short ribs. But the days have passed when we could count on a torrent of over-conceptualized, under-researched clunkers like Agua Dulce (which cared more about “pure” water than its food), Varietal (a “wine-driven” spot with the worst wine list in town) and Lonesome Dove (a transplanted Texas beef joint that was all hat, no cattle).

And who can forget the Upper West Side’s short-lived Bloomingdale Road, which served popcorn with “lamb julep”?

An annoyingly high percentage of new places have been too decent to laugh at. Some are even wonderful.

The economic crunch took a gruesome toll. More than a few famous places are struggling through what owners call (although not for attribution) their worst summer ever (and that was before S&P got into the act).

Fewer real restaurants have opened than in any comparable 12-month period (“real” excludes chain steakhouses and food rooms glued onto clubs). Restaurant-news columns are mainly full of pizza, burger, taco and sandwich spots — even food trucks — to make up for the absence of legitimate news. Eater.com’s “plywood reports” have dwindled to near-none thanks to a shortage of joints under construction.

The pickings are getting even slimmer. After a short-lived uptick, leading owners are once again sitting it out. Not only tepid business, but skyrocketing rents in prime areas have deterred even the savviest operators from opening restaurants that aren’t part of something else — like Danny Meyer’s Untitled at the Whitney Museum or Laurent Tourondel’s upcoming American brasserie in the Cassa Hotel.


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“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#2 Wilfrid

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 03:38 PM

I agree that things are slow, of course, but I find no shortage of risibly bad experiences.

#3 oakapple

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 04:14 PM

I agree that things are slow, of course, but I find no shortage of risibly bad experiences.

The slow recovery did not prevent openings like Lavo, Imperial No. Nine, Niko, Xiao Ye, or the last dozen Todd English places.
Marc Shepherd
Editor, New York Journal

#4 Stone

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 04:19 PM

I guess Chodorow has been quiet lately.

And she was.


#5 Suzanne F

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 06:21 PM

I guess Chodorow has been quiet lately.

Ya think? And in my neighborhood, too. <_<

I don't want to seem obsessed with this, but . . . -- Sneakeater, August 13, 2014

 

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#6 Daisy

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 05:19 PM


I agree that things are slow, of course, but I find no shortage of risibly bad experiences.

The slow recovery did not prevent openings like Lavo, Imperial No. Nine, Niko, Xiao Ye, or the last dozen Todd English places.

Niko is closed as of Saturday.
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#7 9lives

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:53 PM


I agree that things are slow, of course, but I find no shortage of risibly bad experiences.

The slow recovery did not prevent openings like Lavo, Imperial No. Nine, Niko, Xiao Ye, or the last dozen Todd English places.


Todd English just reopened his first place after 5+ years. Olives in Charlestown.To be accurate, it was the second and larger Olives, original was turned into a Figs. THE restaurant in BOS in it's day. Last month, Kingfish Hall, another Todd English creation, closed in Fanieul Hall.