Many many people were blown away by this piece written by Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune fame: My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore? in The New York Times.
She’s a great writer, and a great restaurateur, writing about a time of peril for all restaurants.
During the pandemic I’ve thought about it often, as well as the future of restaurants. I don’t know a fraction about the business Hamilton excels in, other than to recognize that even for someone good at it, it’s a hard business. It was a hard business before when places were jammed with hungry eaters. It may well be impossible now.
My hope is that knowing that restaurateurs are smart, hard working and passionate people. They have managed in difficult situations before. They will find a way to make the foods that they love and feed them to us. And we will find a way to get out and support them.
I have had a number of meals at Prune, and they have been some of the finest of times for me. Here’s to it and many more places coming back soon and giving us meals and memories that make life worthwhile.
(Image is a link to the Village Voice.)
A thought provoking piece on how we spend too much time on new restaurants and not enough on established ones: Why we should ignore the buzz surrounding new restaurants and give proper due to the ones that have lasted | National Post.
I think this is true. I pay attention to new places and hot places and places closing, but places that are great day in and day out I pay less attention to. I suspect many people are like that.
It would be great if publications that write on restaurants periodically round up places that are consistently great would write about them.
One way would be to go to this place: Barbetta. The New York Times has a fine story on it, here: The Elegant Relic of Restaurant Row. Even if you don’t intend to go, you’d be rewarded just reading the piece.
Love that photo by Dina Litovsky for The New York Times. The sign is “made of opal glass. A forerunner of neon, it is the last of its kind in the city…”. Fantastic.
According to blogTO, the tables are of a ….
…Design by ODAMI and MiiM (that) incorporates innovative tabletop cubbies with heavy, spill-proof lids designed to stow your phone at the beginning of the meal. Servers remove the lid at the end to remind you to return to your phone, and emerge from the period of serenity Sara offers diners.
Nice restaurant, great idea. For more on it, see: Sara – blogTO – Toronto
I am a fan of Summerlicious (and Winterlicious) in Toronto: it’s a festival of sorts for people who like fine dining . It’s debatable if you are getting a deal on the meals, though I would argue that you are. If you lean the other way, then read this: 10 best deals for Summerlicious 2018 – NOW Magazine. By going to one or more of these 10 places, you’ll dine in a good restaurant and get a good deal as well.
Then you need to read this: The Thrill of Losing Money by Investing in a Manhattan Restaurant | The New Yorker
It is a wonderful read of a terrible experience.
Besides that, though, it is an entertaining but damning analysis of the restaurant business in cities like New York. (I imagine it is the same for most cities.) I think at some point there will be fewer and fewer fine dining experiences in cities, and the best food will come from places that are small and have very low overhead. And all those large spaces that were once filled with large restaurants will close.
If you still want to own a restaurant after all that, don’t say you weren’t warned! 🙂
(Image is of Prune, one of my favourite NYC restaurants. If fine dining is to have a model in the future, it is likely to come more from places like this, imho.)
This Village Voice article has a run down of a number of great restaurants being forced to close due to the price of rent in Manhattan. Restaurants are following bookstores, which are also suffering from the cost of doing business in this part of NYC.
I suspect low margin businesses like this will move to the other parts of NYC and away from the big rent/big money sections. It will be interesting to see the migration both of the businesses and the people. Compared to the way Manhattan used to be in the later part of the 20th century, this is a better problem for them to have.
For more on the bookstores closing, see this piece in the New York Times.