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Old 02-06-2020, 01:13 AM
 
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Another one of Sawyer's places bites the dust:

https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and...ossibly-before

His resources were clearly spread way too thin. A couple of good friends in the business also said he was notoriously difficult to work for.


There is a $571k judgement lien against Team Sawyer, LLC. Yikes.


JL-19-896843 CHEMICAL BANK vs. TEAM SAWYER LLC, ET AL.,

Last edited by Cleveland_Collector; 02-06-2020 at 01:28 AM..
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:02 AM
 
9,583 posts, read 6,325,699 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleveland_Collector View Post
Another one of Sawyer's places bites the dust:

https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and...ossibly-before

His resources were clearly spread way too thin. A couple of good friends in the business also said he was notoriously difficult to work for.


There is a $571k judgement lien against Team Sawyer, LLC. Yikes.


JL-19-896843 CHEMICAL BANK vs. TEAM SAWYER LLC, ET AL.,

So, it appears that all Jonathan Sawyer-owned restaurants in Cleveland have failed:


<<Greenhouse Tavern, chef Jonathon Sawyer’s flagship eatery, will close after Valentine’s Day, if not before....



This impending closure follows that of Trentina, which closed after a five-year run in University Circle, and Noodlecat, which closed last month at Crocker Park after a two-year run.>>


https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and...ossibly-before



Very sad, as Sawyer is (was?) one of the shining lights of the Cleveland culinary scene. The Greenhouse Tavern occupies a prime restaurant real estate location on East 4th St. What will take its place? If the space is long vacant, it will suggest that not all is well in the Cleveland restaurant world.



It's interesting to compare Sawyer and other once-renowned stars (such as Steve Schimoler, Crop Bistro founder) of the Cleveland restaurant renaissance with Zach Bruell, whose Cleveland restaurant empire seemingly continues to expand on solid ground.



https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and...new-management


Restaurants - Zack Bruell Restaurant Group


Bruell attended the Wharton School of Finance and also studied business at the University of Colorado. He later attended culinary school in Philadelphia and learned the art of haute cuisine at Michael's in Santa Monica.



https://www.cleveland.com/myclevelan...nd_photos.html



https://www.cleveland.com/entertainm...-40-years.html


Bruell revolutionized the Cleveland restaurant scene with Z Contemporary Cuisine, but then sold the restaurant and went to work for Ken Stewart in Akron. There he learned important business skills for a restaurateur.


<<
In Akron I worked with an incredible staff. We would do 30-35 specials at night because I couldn't go into a steakhouse environment and do somebody else's menu, and (Ken Stewart) let me. I learned from him. I learned how to do volume, and how to take the edge off, strip the formality away.>>


https://www.restaurant-hospitality.c...athon-man-0610


So Bruell apparently complements his exceptional culinary skills with a solid grasp of finance and the mechanics of restaurant operations.


It will be interesting to see how Bruell's Cleveland restaurants fare as he grows older and eventually exits the business.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:54 PM
 
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The restaurant business is extremely competitive. This is why many chef-owned restaurants fail. They may be creative behind the stove, but that doesn't necessarily translate to the business side of things. As good as the restaurant may be, the thing will fail if the business end isn't handled properly. This is clearly a case in point. My guess is that he saw his former mentor (who has many investors and solid business managers) opening new places and became envious. Too much emotion and not enough calculation when opening new places.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Cleveland
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Originally Posted by Cleveland_Collector View Post
The restaurant business is extremely competitive. This is why many chef-owned restaurants fail. They may be creative behind the stove, but that doesn't necessarily translate to the business side of things. As good as the restaurant may be, the thing will fail if the business end isn't handled properly. This is clearly a case in point. My guess is that he saw his former mentor (who has many investors and solid business managers) opening new places and became envious. Too much emotion and not enough calculation when opening new places.
Yeah, and things just run their course. I always liked Greenhouse but if you don't really have a vision and plan for change, then things just go stale and in the restaurant business, you fail. He sure had a prime spot, all the opportunity to really make a splash. Granted, you have to pay the rent and that is no small task on E. 4th.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:26 PM
 
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The one time I ate at Greenhouse, I liked it a lot. He just opened Sawyer's in Van Aken, and another restaurant in Columbus. I guess I'm more concerned with E. 4th than I am Sawyer, at this point. Zack Bruell's Chinato's space still sits empty on the corner at Prospect (with no replacement prospects... no pun intended), while Greenhouse was a huge presence in the middle of the block; an E. 4th Street anchor establishment. It is a popular, trendy attractive space in warm weather, especially with its unique rooftop bar, and now it's about to go dark in mid-February. Even if a new owner announced, today, it probably wouldn't be ready until summer's end. And given Chinato's dormant presence, I'm concerned this could be a trend on a street that is legitimacy one of the jewel attractions of downtown and Cleveland, generally.

Restaurant retail is historically fragile, especially in a tight, codependent district as E. 4th. 2 significant vacancies on a block-long district is bad enough, but with one of those being one of the district's anchors, it is even more concerning. I'm hoping a quality replacement is coming soon, but it will likely be come down given Greenhouse's popularity and following.

Last edited by TheProf; 02-06-2020 at 07:40 PM..
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TheProf View Post
Zack Bruell's Chinato's space still sits empty on the corner at Prospect (with no replacement prospects... no pun intended)

Wow! Didn't know that Chinato had closed. It sounds as if MRN is jacking up the rents, and perhaps that is what felled the Greenhouse Tavern as well.


https://www.cleveland.com/entertainm...-to-close.html


Mabel's BBQ and Butcher and Brewer both have opened on East 4th St. subsequent to both Chinato and Greenhouse. Certainly, they've pulled business away from Chinato and especially Greenhouse, given the newcomers' focus on meat (e.g., Pig's Head), the mainstay of Sawyer's Greenhouse.
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:04 PM
 
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This article re Greenhouse Tavern's pending closure just dropped in cleveland.com.

https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2020...d-by-debt.html

Despite Sawyer's obvious culinary talent and and flair as a popular face for the Cleveland restaurant scene -- locally and nationally -- dude is apparently a really bad business man. (It's quite paradoxical Sawyer was tabbed as a Cleveland business mentor/role model in CNBC's LeBron-inspired "Cleveland Hustles" a few years ago). Public records show Sawyer's operations are subject to liens worth $571K! He admits his ongoing debt is driving his recent spate of closures, including the Tavern, but the number and type of lawsuits against Sawyer, including one filed by his own brother, raise all kinds of red flags. It's rather breathtaking that Sawyer could launch such a restaurant of breadth, quality and popularity as Greenhouse Tavern in a high-profile, high-rent district like 4th Street, while simultaneously having such a poor business track record. In the end, he loses but so does the City as well.

Last edited by TheProf; 02-06-2020 at 08:38 PM..
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:42 PM
 
9,583 posts, read 6,325,699 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheProf View Post
This article re Greenhouse Tavern's pending closure just dropped in cleveland.com.

https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2020...d-by-debt.html

Despite Sawyer's obvious culinary talent and and flair as a popular face for the Cleveland restaurant scene -- locally and nationally -- dude is apparently a really bad business man. (It's quite paradoxical Sawyer was tabbed as a Cleveland business mentor/role model in CNBC's LeBron-inspired "Cleveland Hustles" a few years ago). Public records show Sawyer's operations are subject to liens worth $571K! He admits his debt drove his recent spate of closures, including the Tavern, but the number and type of lawsuits against Sawyer, including one filed by his own brother, raise all kinds of red flags. It's rather breathtaking that Sawyer could launch such a restaurant of breadth, quality and popularity as Greenhouse Tavern in a high-profile, high-rent district like 4th Street, while simultaneously having such a poor business track record. In the end, he loses but so does the City as well.
<<Sawyer, in an interview Thursday with cleveland.com in which he discussed some of his company’s financial struggles, said the decision to shutter The Greenhouse Tavern was motivated by several factors, including the end of a lease and debt his companies have racked up in recent years.>>

Bad reporting. The reported should have asked if proposed more onerous lease terms were problematic, or if the end of the lease just provided Sawyer with an opportunity to cut bait.

It would be interesting to know how much, if at all, MRN is raising rents on East 4th St.
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Old 02-07-2020, 01:11 AM
 
3,639 posts, read 3,541,596 times
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Originally Posted by WRnative View Post
<<Sawyer, in an interview Thursday with cleveland.com in which he discussed some of his company’s financial struggles, said the decision to shutter The Greenhouse Tavern was motivated by several factors, including the end of a lease and debt his companies have racked up in recent years.>>

Bad reporting. The reported should have asked if proposed more onerous lease terms were problematic, or if the end of the lease just provided Sawyer with an opportunity to cut bait.

It would be interesting to know how much, if at all, MRN is raising rents on East 4th St.
I don't doubt MRN is charging a big buck or even raising rents precipitously. But I'm sure they also understand the tradeoff of losing such a high profile tenant as Greenhouse Tavern and having two storefronts empty come summer. Also consider the fact that Sawyer has been closing other other locations, as well. As you pointed out, Zack Bruell, in addition to his fine Shaker HS degree, attended Wharton and obviously gained business savvy. Bruell has a substantial network of restaurants, mostly higher end, but also had his short-lived burger joints, Dyn-o-mite, which went belly up less than 2 years. As we noted, Chinato failed... but the Bruell empire is still going strong, and it's not far fetched to believe he's a superior business man compared to Sawyer who, btw, has only licenced his name to the new Van Aken restaurant. Another enterprise actually owns and runs it.
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Old 02-07-2020, 01:30 AM
 
4,359 posts, read 6,258,149 times
Reputation: 4866
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheProf View Post
This article re Greenhouse Tavern's pending closure just dropped in cleveland.com.

https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2020...d-by-debt.html

Despite Sawyer's obvious culinary talent and and flair as a popular face for the Cleveland restaurant scene -- locally and nationally -- dude is apparently a really bad business man. (It's quite paradoxical Sawyer was tabbed as a Cleveland business mentor/role model in CNBC's LeBron-inspired "Cleveland Hustles" a few years ago). Public records show Sawyer's operations are subject to liens worth $571K! He admits his ongoing debt is driving his recent spate of closures, including the Tavern, but the number and type of lawsuits against Sawyer, including one filed by his own brother, raise all kinds of red flags. It's rather breathtaking that Sawyer could launch such a restaurant of breadth, quality and popularity as Greenhouse Tavern in a high-profile, high-rent district like 4th Street, while simultaneously having such a poor business track record. In the end, he loses but so does the City as well.

My understanding is that he was constantly at odds with those who advised him and also had good business sense. If he could fire them, he did. In other words, he was/is the quintessential dreamer. Trentina was a good example of that.


Something else will take its place. Restaurants come and go. All in all, they had a decent run but I think the quality had been slipping over the past 2-3 years. Limited cash and too many irons in the fire = a slow, painful death in any business.
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