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Old 02-07-2020, 05:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Cleveland_Collector View Post
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.
You raise an interesting point... In point of fact, chef's are really artists. The kitchen, the ovens, skillets, colanders, graters, oils, cutting boards, etc., are their paint brushes; the plate is their canvas. Artists have vision but, oftentimes, aren't business folk. That's why a rare guy like Zack Bruell, with a Wharton business degree in one hand, and a degree from the Culinary Institute, in the other, are crazy successful.
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:20 PM
 
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I'm also pretty sure that Zack Bruell, Michael Symon, Dante Boccuzzi, etc. have solid investment groups through which most high level business decisions are made. They aren't telling them what to put on the menu or how to plate their masterpieces, but they are telling them that their balance sheet can't support the opening of 2 new restaurants in the next 5 years. I can almost guarantee you this is why Symon hasn't opened anything in the old Lolita spot yet. The B-Spot expansion situation was a disaster for them in other cities and the money people said "not yet." Restaurants live and die on cash flow and I'm fairly certain they are still paying for the failings with revenue from the other, successful restaurants. Bruell is probably doing the same with the failures of Kafeteria, Dynomite (UC) and Chinato to some degree.



If Sawyer was robbing Peter to pay Paul with GHT revenue (which seems apparent), it is no wonder why it eventually could not support two other losing ventures. I believe Schimoler met the same fate with the rapid Crop expansions. The difference between them and guys like Symon and Bruell is that the latter operated within constraints based on very calculated risk assesments and, by virtue, did not over extend their core business.

Last edited by Cleveland_Collector; 02-07-2020 at 06:29 PM..
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:42 PM
 
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Pretty much what I had heard from people I know in the business. If even half of it is true, this failure should be of little shock to anyone.

https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and...chef-went-awol
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Old 02-08-2020, 02:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleveland_Collector View Post
Pretty much what I had heard from people I know in the business. If even half of it is true, this failure should be of little shock to anyone.

https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and...chef-went-awol

<<“At the end, what frustrated me the most – and why I wanted to reach out to Scene – is I saw a lot of these comments about Metal dinner tickets and cooking class tickets…,” he explains. “It seemed to me that we knew where we were headed when we chose to sell those tickets and that wasn’t the most ethical business practice, and it kind of put a bad taste in my mouth because I had friends buying tickets for these classes that I didn’t think we would be open for.”>>


https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and...chef-went-awol



Sawyer's actions and history may preclude a second act in the Cleveland market, especially if investors are required. Talented, aspiring chefs also may be reluctant to work for Sawyer, especially if given another viable option, despite Sawyer's James Beard award.


Sad. James Beard winners are a scarce commodity, and it's a loss to see one exit the Cleveland culinary scene, especially at such a relatively young age.
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Cleveland, OH
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I've worked in restaurants before. The people in general, but especially the chefs, are typically unpleasant and temperamental, to be charitable. Restaurants survive despite themselves.
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Old 02-08-2020, 04:45 PM
 
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Hard work, relatively low pay, everyone out partying while you're busting your ass. Then there are the ones who go to CIA while, courtesy of basic cable, thinking they'll be the next Abe Froman when, in reality, they'll be stuck in a relatively thankless profession with a seemingly impenetrable glass ceiling. It's understandable. However, don't choose it as a profession if you can't handle the clear and obvious downside.
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Old 02-08-2020, 05:04 PM
 
9,583 posts, read 6,325,699 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleveland_Collector View Post
Hard work, relatively low pay, everyone out partying while you're busting your ass. Then there are the ones who go to CIA while, courtesy of basic cable, thinking they'll be the next Abe Froman when, in reality, they'll be stuck in a relatively thankless profession with a seemingly impenetrable glass ceiling. It's understandable. However, don't choose it as a profession if you can't handle the clear and obvious downside.
The son of a friend has had a very successful career in Greater Cleveland after attending the Pittsburgh culinary institute directly after high school. As in every pursuit, much depends upon the individual. A key to his success perhaps has been working in catering and restaurants located outside of Cleveland proper.

Experience in catering teaches mass production and staff management skills perhaps not easily learned in most restaurants.
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Old 02-10-2020, 05:27 PM
 
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A key to anyone's success is to, first, possess the acumen required to succeed and then to accept the inevitable downside of the profession you choose. However, the downsides of the restaurant and food service business in general are quite daunting. I don't believe these are accurately gauged by most, if they are gauged at all, given the entry-level nature of much of the business. There are a lot of dues to be paid and even then there are no guarantees.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Akron Oh
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I watch the foodie game shows where people win 10 grand on Chopped or 20 grand on Guy's Grocery Games, and every one of them, when asked "what do you have planned for the money" says "I want to open my own restaurant. And every time I just shake my head thinking "So you can close in 15 months and file for bankruptcy? Good plan." That is a HORRIBLE career path in this economy, especially in a small city with a Napoleon complex like Cleveland that still wishes it was a prime time player. I am waiting to see Eric Williams enterprise start to crumble. These guys build too fast without the door traffic in every location they will fail because of it. Michael Symon once had 12 counting B-Spots. He is now at 6. I know when the one burned down he did not rebuild. And the B-Spots are not really "restaurants", with locations at arenas and in airports. He is still doing well but he also had TV income from when he did that show (does he still?) in New York. That is an extremely difficult business in which to succeed because the competition is so extreme. Cleveland isn't New York, Las Vegas or the big towns in California. San Francisco and Los Angeles have a good restaurant every 50 feet. And when you factor in that the chef industry in general is fraught with ENORMOUS egos, that adds to the delusion that anybody can take down the big guys. You don't go from Fred the line cook to Bobby Flay or Alex Guarnaschelli in 2 years.
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Old 02-11-2020, 03:38 PM
 
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Well, you should be more concerned that a person thinks they can actually start a business, namely a restaurant, with a paltry sum like $20k. It will barely pay for the licensure and a couple of month's worth of rent.

It can easily be argued, however, that smaller cities are easier to succeed in. For starters, the startup costs are much lower along with the combination of an eager and far less jaded customer base. There is also less competition. Cleveland isn't New York, et al... that's actually a good thing. If you don't believe it, ask Dante.

I know Eric. He has 2 major restaurants of similar theme and both are doing quite well. He is actually a good person to model after. He knows both the business and its pitfalls. He also understands that rapid expansion with vision is almost as stupid as starting a restaurant with none.

You need to study up on your Michael Symon. 3 of the B-Spots are definitely stand alone restaurants. The original at Eton has been open for close to 10 years and is doing just fine, as are the ones in Westlake and Strongsville. Lola and Mabel's are always busy. The one that burned down was Lolita. He'll open a new place at the site when the timing is right or he'll sell to someone who will. He has quite a good business, even without the television gig.

Contrary to popular belief, the west coast does not have a good restaurant every 50 feet. There is a ton of garbage out there. The reason being is that crappy food is generally high profit (e.g., simple burgers and fried foods) and that is what is needed to pay the rent as, also contrary to popular belief, compensation premiums on the coast do NOT equate to the COL adjustment required to live the same quality of life that one would in the Midwest. Many higher-end restaurants fail on the coasts before they even have a chance to get off the ground. If you can keep your delusions of grandeur in check, you'll likely be far more profitable in Cleveland - even with its perceived "Napoleon complex."
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