Last week I read about another local restaurant that bit the dust. Scary, eh?

For those restaurateaurs out there who quake in their boots every time they read stuff like this, allow me to put a different slant on things.

The restaurant in question was a very high end job in a pricey hotel and it had a decided wine theme. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on a state of the art kitchen and uber cool dining room. But oops! Forgot to train the staff!

A foody friend of mine had gone there last year and told me the service was so bad as to be laughable. Her group had ordered the prix fixe wine pairing meal, but never once did the accompanying wine arrive before the food part of the duet was already consumed! But maybe that was just a one off thing.

However, after reading that the restaurant closed, according to the chef/GM because 'revenues just aren't there', I went online and checkout out recent food review forums. Here's a sampler:

1. Where do I start? Three of us dined last night and the service was some of the worst we have ever had at this price point. First the waiter corrected my pronunciation on the wine I ordered, which he was wrong about - I had lived in the region the wine came from for eight years and was very familiar with its correct pronunciation. Then the waiter brought the wrong year of wine and when I asked about it he said, "Well they just changed the wine menu. Do you want the wine list again?"

2. Maybe it's me, but I have a problem with a waiter half my age asking my name before ordering a drink. When I orderd a dirty martini, he addressed me as "dirty Kim" - bad start! We were a party of two couples, all in our 50's. Our starter was supposed to be ravioli with a brown butter sage sauce, and was served barely warm with a balsamic reduction. The waiter tried explaining that the brown butter sauce was "in the oil?" He clearly had no knowledge of food.

3. I ordered the Mushroom Risotto, which was good, as was the Halibut another member of our party ordered, but the Scallops my husband ordered were raw in the center and the rapini was so bitter it was completely inedible. The black rice that was served with it was crunchy and also inedible. The three smallish scallops had all been cut up to see if any of them were cooked through and when the waiter was asked to have them sent back to kitchen, he remarked that they wouldn't give us three freshly cooked scallops, but would instead throw the scallops that were cut into small pieces back on the stove. Really? The kitchen sends out raw scallops and they are too cheap to refire three new scallops (which they charged $30 for) so they can be cooked correctly? When the scallops came back out, 12 minutes later, the small pieces were, of course, overcooked and rubbery.

4. The curry on the halibut was flavorless, clams with rocks or pellets of some sort inside, my drink was never once refilled, waiter NEVER came back to check on us, and the parking lot was closed and I had to pay for valet!

It is so evident to me that this is a restaurant that deserved to fail! They were doing so many things wrong that it is criminal that they lasted as long as they did! As you know, I am an ardent champion of creating and reinforcing a customer first culture in this business and then training training training. Apparently these folks believed that by making a pretty room and charging very pretty prices, customers were not going to notice that there was no 'there' there. Let this be a lesson to us all: yes, fewer people are going out to eat, and they are more discerning with their dining dollar. But the ones who are dining out are going somewhere. The people who are spending money are spending it somewhere. If they are not spending it with you, maybe you should take a look at why.

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Comment by Annette Aaron on April 8, 2010 at 8:33am
I don't own a restaurant, but go to many. I do own a catering company and when I hear of another one closing 'OUCH' This particular catering company was very good but the overhead and cut backs forced it to close. It's sad and a scary time for people in the food business.




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