RIP, John Dory
There is a great quote in the Sunday Styles section today in the New York Times from a 45 year old biz man who has unfortunately joined the ranks of the unemployed. He was successfully rolling along and then life changed. As he put it, "The world around me just changed over night. Like East Germany, one day it was there, next day gone." That sort of sums up what happened to our country over the past year. Everything changed in a day and now we are seeing the results.
Results are people are spending less on soft goods and I don't see a return to the spendthrift days happening anytime soon, the worth of real estate has gone down significantly, new jobs are being filled by the best and brightest and the youth because they can, etc. In the restaurant world, we will slowly see the death of the big restaurant. Too big, not intimate. As someone said to me this morning, the big restaurant is so 2007. Everyone, including restaurants, need to take on small overhead and build out places that won't have them carrying serious debt. There is certainly a need to turn many tables over the course of a day vs the dinner only factor. Then there is the number one priority which never really changes, location, location, location.
John Dory probably could have got to the other side in better times because the food was so good. But there were many fatal flaws from the onset. One was location. Their customer was located in an area where people could walk down the street to, like the village but the restaurant was in a destination location. Located in an area inundadated with big oversized restaurants with visiting customers vs locals. The decor was ridiculously over the top, although obviously well thought out, the cost of that would probably take years to recoop with a restaurant that didn't even have 60 seats. Prices were high and it wasn't easy to even find the door.
I loved the John Dory but even though I live relatively close, it wasn't a place I'd stroll to. in the end, the seats were probably half full and the debt was suffocating. RIP in John Dory. A sad lesson learned and I do hope to see April continue to expand her brilliant cooking to more places outside the genius Spotted Pig which is not only delicious, probably not expensive to put together and in an incredible location. They should have duplicated that success at John Dory but they stepped outside the zone.
I did hear a rumor this morning that we will see John Dory relocate somewhere where rent is less and the location is better. Perhaps down the street from the Spotted Pig where I happened to see Ken Friedman looking at a space a couple of months ago. I guess time will tell.
Just in addition, after 92 years, Cafe Des Artistes, closed their doors yesterday.