Things Are Tough All Over

High end restaurants from New York to Los Angeles are hurting…

This article in the Wall Street Journal explains how even such a strong operator as Stephen Hanson’s B.R. Guest group has not been able to halt the receding tide of customers in the biz. He’s just closed multiple restaurants in the Big Apple and the Windy City, including the mega-famous Ruby Foo’s and the highly regarded Fiamma — helmed by uber-chef Fabio Trabocchi to 3-star status over the past two years. (So much for the power of restaurant critics.)

Fiamma-Las Vegas (helmed by its own uber-chef Carlos Buscaglia) is alive and kicking, but we must take issue with Hanson’s statement that his Vegas Dos Caminos operation is doing well. The cavernous space of over three hundred seats (400 if you count the private rooms), never looks more than a quarter full (that’s the problem with a 400 seat restaurant), and ELV gets constant reports of its imminent demise.

The fact that it serves fair-to-middlin’-Mexican food is helpin’ matters not one bit.

The good news is that prices are being slashed across the board — making dining out in top-flight restaurants at least 20% cheaper now that it was a year ago. And you can expect early bird specials and prix fixes to keep proliferating.

2 thoughts on “Things Are Tough All Over

  1. I’m a long time semi-regular at Hanson’s Fiamma Osteria in NYC, unfortunately it never really got off the ground floor but the food was outstanding and the environment pristine in a converted 5 story brownstone. Hanson’s customer base in NYC is the upper middle class who wants to party (as seen at Fiamma in Vegas) but Fiamma Osteria in NYC was his attempt at fine dining for a more subdued audience. The problem was the location on Spring Street which doesn’t jive with the upper west side/wall street customers he was aiming for as well as it’s proximity to sub-par yet highly regarded see and be scene competitors in the same price point such as Da Silvano which serves the most extravagantly priced food yet draws them in. Even the highly regarded Babbo and Lupe which are both walking distance. Hanson also tried Fiamma in Phoenix but that failed too… perhaps the problem isn’t the economy after all, but a concept that missed the wishes of the potential consumer? Whats interesting is that Fiamma Osteria is actually the corporate headquarters for BR Guest, apparently it will remain as a catering space for the company. Its a shame, although its very good Fiamma in Vegas is not even on the same planet as Fiamma Osteria in NYC, it was my favorite Italian fine dining experience in NYC, it will be missed. I still dream about the rabbet tortoloni ragu with shaved truffles the size of potato chips…. I am drooling just thinking about it!

  2. Fiamma Vegas is another stalwart that gets just a bit lost in the MGM shuffle, I fear…. and speaking of the MGM Shuffle, Diego is the mexican place that impresses me the most on the Strip.

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