John Curtas is …

ALEX Closes – The Enemy of Great is Good

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. (The best is the enemy of the good.) – Voltaire

There are passion restaurants and there are money restaurants. ALEX — the jewel in the supposed crown of the Wynn hotel — was supposed to be both, but was unceremoniously shut down on short (ten days) notice, despite being the very embodiment of the former, but (apparently) failing as the latter. What really went on behind the scenes leading up to its untimely demise will probably never be known, but the shudder has been felt by the entire Vegas food world (that now extends around the globe), and provides the perfect catalyst to review, and speculate about, what has happened to dining in restaurants, in Las Vegas, over the past seventeen years.

Wolfgang Puck gets much of the credit for opening the world’s eyes to the economic possibilities of restaurants here — by trailblazing a path that began with the opening of Spago in Caesars’ Forum Shops on Dec. 13, 1992. As deserving as he is of those accolades, another, unsung hero, was just as busy in 1996-1998 laying the groundwork for the restaurant world we now take for granted. His name is Gamal Aziz — now President and CEO of the MGM Hospitality Group .

It was Aziz who, as Food and Beverage Director of Bellagio, reset the paradigm for eating and drinking in Sin City. Before Aziz brought the Maccionis (Le Cirque/Circo), Michael Mina (Aqua), Julian Serrano (Picasso), Todd English (Olives) and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Prime) to town in 1998, restaurants that made a million dollars a month were about as rare around here as a well-groomed cab driver. A few years earlier, Charlie Trotter had come and gone, but Emeril Lagasse and Mark Miller were also plowing this ground. Jean-Louis Palladin arrived around the same time (1997), and before his untimely demise (in 2001) was instrumental in raising our world-wide culinary credibility.

Aziz, more than any other Las Vegas food figure, was the first to recognize that the enemy of great is good, and that a panoply of world-class eats (and chefs) was a way to drive revenues for the entire hotel. He also had a hand in bringing Laurent Tourondel to town in 1996 — giving him free reign at the Palace Court (the best restaurant in town before LT departed in early ’98) — and preached how important quality, design, and yes, passion were to successful F&B operations. Because of Aziz’s groundbreaking in bringing a murderer’s row of restaurants to a high end hotel/casino, none can afford to be without an array of these high end amenity eateries, and $1,000,000 a month in revenues is the target for every place from China Poblano to Carnevino.

These lessons were certainly not lost on Steve Wynn when he opened the Bellagio, but the sting of criticism was felt by him when, after the dust had settled, national critics began criticizing the absentee-chef syndrome and how Vegas epitomized the same. As the Wynn was getting ready to open his eponymous hotel in 2005, he launched a massive p.r. campaign — including giving interviews to writers like John Mariani — where he touted that Wynn would be different. And it was. He put his money where is fork was (although the dude is decidedly not a foodie) by bringing top flight talent: Daniel Boulud, Paul Bartolotta, Grant MacPherson, Frederic Robert, Philippe Rispoli, Richard Chen, Boris Villat, David Walzog, and, let us not forget Alex Stratta, from across the ocean and across town, most of whom would reside in, not just visit, his gallery of fine dining.

He and they made a big splash in May of 2005, and in short order, the French Connection appeared (Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy) in rival hotels to match (some might argue exceed) the Wynn’s star power. And star power is the operative phrase. Let us not forget that Vegas is not about nurturing kitchen talent anymore than it is about finding the next Lady Gaga. We leave it to New York, California and Chicago (and, to an extent, France) to cultivate kitchen stars and provide established talent a place to strut their stuff on our international stage — the same way Justin Timberlake and Cher do.

To the extent there ever was a “cutting edge” to Vegas restaurants, it was Steve Wynn who made us classy and au courant. But beginning a few years ago, Wynn’s “vision thing” was beginning to show cracks in its lustrous veneer. Stephen Kalt was the first to go (and Corsa Cucina/STRATTA has never been the same), followed by Corporate Executive Chef MacPherson and then the über-talented Philippe Rispoli, who, along with Daniel Boulud chafed at turning his brasserie into just another steakhouse. And when the Encore opened in ’08 with the magnificent Mark LoRusso slinging steaks, foodies everywhere stayed away in droves. In the past year or so, Wynn and his minions have been buying out or releasing chefs from their contracts (goodbye Wing Lei’s Chen, and the only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in America), and are now proceeding full bore with the systematic dismantling of the restaurants he thought would drive customers to his hotel just a few years ago.

Apparently, no one is driving them there…at least not to the restaurants. The highly successful nightclubs are a different story. Let us not forget, the profit margins on booze and broads (50% plus) makes it far more attractive to push night and day-clubs on the 30 and 40-somethings than quality eats. So what began as revolutionary in 1998 has devolved into the same old, same old, with Steverino now falling in line with all the passable averageness he once deplored.

The thing is, other hotels, like the copy-cat Japanese automakers of the late 20th Century, took Wynn’s ideas and improved them. Caesars Palace does a much better job with its restaurant mix (Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Guy Savoy, Rao’s, Beijing Noodle #9, Payard et al) than Wynn’s hotels, and many would argue the same for MGM, Venetian/Palazzo, Mandalay Bay, Aria, and certainly The Cosmopolitan.

The truth hurts, and all ELV has done (via this website and its avid/articulate readers) is submit the Wynn’s 3 year-long de-volution/abandonment of its amenity mission to the public for it’s response. The Wynn brass didn’t like this discourse, of course, which is why were were treated as persona non grata the minute we entered the restaurant last night to bid farewell.

“Your postings were in poor taste,” we were told. “No,” we replied, “what’s in poor taste, in Las Vegas, in 2011, is deciding you can make more money with mediocrity.”

ELV note: The above article was re-written (toned down, edges made softer, a little more detail etc.) for possible publication in a more formal venue. The revised edition is below…and aside from writing students, obsessive foodies, and Marcella Ruth Schroader Curtas (D.O.B 8.10.24 – The Official Mother of ELV) the stylistic changes probably won’t be of interest to most of you.

There are passion restaurants and there are money restaurants. ALEX — the jewel in the supposed crown of the Wynn hotel — was supposed to be both, but was unceremoniously shut down on short (ten days) notice last week, despite being the very embodiment of the former, but (apparently) failing as the latter. What really went on behind the scenes leading up to its untimely demise will probably never be known. At the time of the announcement Alex Stratta gave the usual expressions of disappointment, and how “…people aren’t supporting high-end French dining,” but that doesn’t tell the whole story – both as it relates to the Wynn hotel and the Las Vegas dining scene in general. So, as this shudder is being felt by the entire Vegas food world (that now extends around the globe), it also provides the perfect catalyst to review, and speculate about, what has happened to dining in restaurants, in Las Vegas, over the past seventeen years.

Wolfgang Puck gets much of the credit for opening the world’s eyes to the economic possibilities of restaurants here — by trailblazing a path that began with the opening of Spago in Caesars’ Forum Shops on Dec. 13, 1992. As deserving as he is of those accolades, another, unsung hero, was just as busy throughout 1995-1997 laying the groundwork for the restaurant world we now take for granted. His name is Gamal Aziz — now President and CEO of the MGM-Mirage.

It was Aziz who, first as as Food and Beverage Director of Caesars Palace and then the Bellagio, reset the paradigm for eating and drinking in Sin City. Aziz first brought Laurent Tourondel to town in 1996, and then the Maccionis (Le Cirque/Circo), Michael Mina (Aqua), Julian Serrano (Picasso), Todd English (Olives) and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Prime) to the Bellagio in 1998. Before these big hitters arrived, restaurants that made a million dollars a month were about as rare as a well-groomed cab driver. Because of their successes, no high end hotel can now afford to be without a murderer’s row of amenity eateries, and $1,000,000 a month in revenues is the target for every place from China Poblano to Carnevino.

These lessons were certainly not lost on Steve Wynn when he opened the Bellagio, but the sting of criticism was felt by him when, after the dust had settled, national critics began criticizing the absentee-chef syndrome and how Vegas epitomized the same. As the Wynn was getting ready to open his eponymous hotel in 2005, he launched a massive p.r. campaign — including giving interviews to writers like John Mariani — where he touted that Wynn would be different. And it was. He put his money where is fork was (although the fellow is decidedly not a foodie) by bringing top flight talent: Daniel Boulud, Paul Bartolotta, Mark Poidevin, Grant MacPherson, Steven Kalt, Frederic Robert, Philippe Rispoli, Richard Chen, Boris Villat, David Walzog, and, let us not forget Alex Stratta, from across the ocean and across town, most of whom would reside in, not just visit, his gallery of fine dining.

He and they made a big splash in May of 2005, and in short order, the French Connection appeared (Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy) in rival hotels to match (some might argue eclipse) the Wynn’s star power. And star power is the operative phrase. Let us not forget that Vegas is not about nurturing kitchen talent anymore than it is about finding the next Lady Gaga. We leave it to New York, California and Chicago (and, to an extent, France) to cultivate kitchen stars and provide them a place to strut their stuff — the same way Justin Timberlake and Cher do.

To the extent there ever was a “cutting edge” to Vegas restaurants, it was Steve Wynn who made them classy and au courant. But beginning a few years ago, Wynn’s “vision thing” was beginning to show cracks in its lustrous veneer. Kalt was the first to go, followed by Corporate Executive Chef MacPherson and then the talented Philippe Rispoli, who, along with Daniel Boulud chafed at turning the Boulud Brasserie into just another steakhouse – albeit one with fabulous charcuterie. When the Encore opened in ’08 with the magnificent Mark LoRusso (formerly at Aqua and Tableau) slinging steaks (at Botero), foodies stayed away in droves. In the past year, Wynn has been buying out or releasing chefs from their contracts (goodbye Boulud — this past summer, then Wing Lei’s Chen, the force behind the only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in America, and recently, head pastry chef Frederic Robert – co-author of Alain Ducasse’s Desserts and Pastries). With all of these developments, it appears Wynncore (as locals refer to it), is proceeding full bore with the systematic dismantling of the restaurants Steve Wynn thought would drive customers to his hotel just a few years ago. (His four on-premises steakhouses, however, are doing a land-office business, and Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare continues to stay the course.)

These days, other hotels, like the copy-cat Japanese automakers of the late 20th Century, have taken Wynn’s ideas and improved them. Caesars Palace does a much better job with its restaurant mix (Mesa Grill, Guy Savoy, Rao’s, Beijing Noodle #9, Payard et al) than Wynn’s hotels, and many would argue the same for MGM, Venetian/Palazzo, Aria, and certainly The Cosmopolitan, which, like Venetian/Palazzo, rents its restaurant space to established operators like Milos, Comme Ca, STK, Jaleo and Scarpetta. And don’t forget the Bellagio — that continues to keep its high-end restaurants full and at the top of their game.

Did Wynn’s bold experiment of 2005 fail? Overall, it would seem so. What began as revolutionary in 1998 (with superstar, absentee chefs), which then morphed into high-end joints being run by the hotel, apparently didn’t justify the cost — once expensive cooks, staff and décor were factored into the bottom line. Is Wynn falling in line with all the mediocrity he once deplored? Probably not, but the culinary credibility he worked (and spent) so hard to establish has been compromised, and those looking for gastronomic greatness a la ALEX (as in Stratta) won’t be making a beeline there anytime soon.

29 Responses to ALEX Closes – The Enemy of Great is Good

  • Very well spoken, and let’s add one more detail that was kept awfully quiet at the time – the short run of Larry Forgione, in what was to have been a transformation of Tableau. We were fortunate to have had an excellent dinner there almost two years ago to the day, on a night in which Forgione was not only in the kitchen, but also came out to spend about 20 minutes at our table, since it was a slow evening. The concept was to have been a Las Vegas version of “An American Place”, something extremely welcome in a city that lacks a concept of “seasonal” (steak-houses never need to change their menus). Needless to say that quickly withered and died on the vine. Now a person can walk through the WynnCore complex, look at the menus, and have no idea whether it is April, July, October or January. Which for some of us, will mean why walk through at all (although we will still relish the occasional evening at Bartolotta).

  • Sad but true. Another phase in the cyclical trends of Las Vegas… Sigh!

  • Good piece, John.
    If I had to sum up what this history tells us, it is that as strongly as the Las Vegas restaurant scene has been built up, it can easily fade away if the owners of the casino resorts feel these places no longer suit their needs from a business perspective. That’s undoubtedly a more challenging reality for the chefs than it is for us lucky diners. We can call them names and so forth, but it doesn’t change the bottom line.
    Vegas hosts a wide variety of dining–there’s good, bad and ugly at all levels, and in all properties. We’re lucky to have it. I think it’s been very instructive to see the reactions the Alex closing has gotten in the community, and if any good can come out of this, perhaps it is that we be rededicated to inspiring the community to support and enjoy those places on and off the Strip that are TRULY special.
    On that note… isn’t the R-J Best of Ballot in today’s paper? (coughhack)

  • When did you realize you were not friends, after you thanked every PR person in town in your book? I respect your opinion on this matter but at some point you have to realize that you are either on their side or not. Food writers, travel writers and journalist must speak up and express an opinion when it matters, however, we must accept the consequences. That they did not like your opinion is appropriate, that they did not want you around is also understandable. That you are offended by it is a slap in the face to your readers. There is an expectation that you are on the side of the people that go to you for advice in the culinary world that is the tiny peanut of the Las Vegas strip. Wear it like a badge of honor and as an indication that you did your job. To throw all that the Wynn brand has done for food in Las Vegas and visitor numbers in Las Vegas under the bus is shortsighted. Change is good, realize this is the same guy that built the Volcano on the strip that plenty of people mocked. You do a good job of presenting the food scene, keep doing it but get a thicker skin and realize that the symbiotic relationship only goes so far.

  • Well, thank you ELV. Very well put indeed. What I find just as troubling as the sudden closing of Alex and the impact it has had on the employees and those of us who grew to think of Alex as a special, cherished repast of fine dining is the state of affairs within the Wynn empire as it relates to dining.

    How sad, (some would use other adjectives like deplorable or degrading), that Wynn has become a shill for the very thing they stood against-a decoy using grace, superior service and memorable experiences selling out for the common standard. A con game as it were, befitting one of the darker images of Las Vegas.

    Now really, how many restaurants selling chilled shellfish towers, dry-aged steaks, french fries with pink salt and cupackes on wood sticks does it take to tell one that the saturation point has been reached? Creativity, independence and passion does still exist in those whose hearts are determined to be different. (And be profitable at the same time). Las Vegas is filled with restaurants who exemplify just that.

    It’s too bad that the voices of truth weren’t heard or validated, (and that your honest opinions were cast aside last night). Alex was the symbol at the top of the temple that set Wynn apart.

    Mr. Wynn would be wise to revist the words of Lucius Beebe who once wrote, “If anything is worth doing it is worth doing in style, and on your own terms, and nobody’s Goddamned else’s!”

  • Let me clarify: I support John Curtas’ right at all points obviously to express his opinion. It’s one of the most passionate and sincere in Vegas, and it’s strongly needed.
    I see a critics’ role as helping to inform both patrons and restauranteurs what’s good, what’s bad, and how to improve. As to the execs that can get in between them… that’s largely out of our control, and in most instances immune to any meaningful critique (but if they kick you out, that’s probably an acknowledgement that you actually made an impression).
    Off to my next meal…. ;-))

  • Cooked with Alex in Europe on bike trips, closed Renoir’s, there to open Alex and there to close it last night. I will miss the food and miss my friend when he leaves Las Vegas.

  • Please don’t forget Chef Eric Klein in this discussion. He was treated very badly at the hand of Wynn and his soul-less minions. His talent was damn near extinguished in the process. To Chef Klein’s astonishment (particularly given how badly Wynn treated him), Wynn came back and offered him a restaurant in Encore (a 24 hour one at that), but he had the good sense to turn the Devil down.

  • Excellent piece. And yes, this is all because of a Steve Wynn hissy fit…

  • And attention Wynncore, but ALEX was packed last night! Despite the fact that the mood, service, and atmosphere were all off. The staff was very sad. One of the waiters told us that he would now be forced to move back to North Carolina to find work there. “It really sucks!” he said.

  • One more, promise.

    @W Boren: Is Alex REALLY leaving Las Vegas? That would be a shame considering his restaurant has a tremendous following as indicated by how crowded it was last night- and there are other available spaces here to showcase his tremendous talent. It doesn’t have to end with Steve Wynn….I would love to see him take up space elsewhere, and really hope he does!!

  • Though John does get under my skin at times, He is accessible and that what gives him his charm.
    Wynn as we all knows, marches by the beat of a different drummer. Alex though a spectacular truly world class restaurant, was poorly located in Wynn, as it was hard to find especially for the patrons walking through the property.
    Nobody can question Wynns success in this town and as John so eloquently put it a leader in bringing top notch cuisine to this town, but it is a business and if it isn’t producing then you cut your losses. Of course doing it in a 10 day window without explanation is BS, but why prolong the agony.
    Ultimately, you bring in great chefs to help produce the crowds that will leave additional money on the casino floor. This obviously wasn’t the case with Alex.

    He will hopefully resurface near us to where we can enjoy his wares again soon.

  • John,
    Thank you. As someone fairly new to LV, most of this information is new to me and very beneficial.

    Zeke, I see ELV slightly differently than you. To me ELV is more of an impartial venue to confirm the product the restaurants claim they have, kinda like Consumer Reports or a judge. ELV is not on restaurants side, ELV is not my side, ELV is on the FOODS side. If the restaurant ruins or mistreats what they claim to be serving, I want to know. If everything is as stated or better, I also want to know.

    John, I respect & enjoy your troubles on our behalf.
    thank you
    TRH

  • John,
    Thank you. As someone fairly new to LV, most of this information is new to me and very beneficial.

    Zeke, I see ELV slightly differently than you. To me ELV is more of an impartial venue to confirm the product the restaurants claim they have, kinda like Consumer Reports or a judge. ELV is not on restaurants side, ELV is not my side, ELV is on the FOODS side. If the restaurant ruins or mistreats what they claim to be serving, I want to know. If everything is as stated or better, I also want to know.

    John, I respect & enjoy your troubles on our behalf.
    thank you
    TRH

  • So for the sake of argument, someone tell me why Guy Savoy, a restaurant at a similar price and service point to Alex, is apparently so successful? (Or Robuchon or Bartolotta).

    Savoy is hardly in an “ideal” location. In fact, it’s fairly difficult to find up those quiet stairs on the second floor. You almost think you’re in the wrong place as you pass brides getting married and people in towels going to the spa. And Savoy doesn’t necessarily benefit from foot traffic in the casino–one can simply pass through the main entrance, take a left and avoid the casino all together. Yet Savoy’s moniker is front and center in numerous PR pieces sent out by Caesar’s about their stable of chefs and restaurants.

    Isn’t it a part of trying to differentiate the “brand” so to speak by having a Robuchon, Savoy, Ducasse or Stratta on the property? And do we really believe that every night it’s open that Savoy seats enough paying covers to carry the cost of the mere products alone? Really?

  • Well I can just speak as a visitor as we are not really a foodies, but we enjoy good eats. We love staying at WynnCore for the nightlife. They still have a top notch restaurant in Bartolotta, and although we are not planning to have one dinner there this trip the nightlife can’t be beat. Heading to Bellagio for Picasso and the Cosmopolitan for STK probably. Had so-so meals at Botero and SW so now for steak we head off site but we come back for the clubs for sure. They do that better than anyone else.

  • I doubt this was a “decision” to deliberately sacrifice a high-brow option to make more money with mediocrity. Wynn was more than happy to cater to discriminating tastes when people with discriminating tastes actually came to Vegas and paid full retail price for everything.

    Nowadays even the self-proclaimed foodies are hesitating to order $300 prix-fixe menus and high-end wines by the bottle and instead are asking for a la carte or $99 tasting menus and modest wines by the glass. Those are nice options to have for your 5pm customers, but when most of your 8pm customers are asking for it as well, you start slipping below that $1m per month and eventually you’re just operating at a loss. Even a “passion” restaurant can’t simply watch money go out the door every night.

    Given that reality, what would you ask Alex to do? Drag out a staring contest with Savoy and Robuchon to see who survives long enough to get what’s left of the market? Follow Fleur’s lead and start serving soup and salad for lunch?

    Closing while they will still be missed and remembered fondly may have actually been the best option left for them.

  • How can you tell when ELV is pissed at Wynn PR? … When he starts sayin that Mesa grill and Ceasers are running a better F &B program?!? Years ago I traveled to Europe for scholarly purposes but was really most excited about the prospects of eating Michelin star French food. Now in 2011, one can travel to Vegas( at least for now) and have that experience with little effort( other than a large bankroll). I have to smile when I hear people speaking of one of these establishments being hidden down hallways as, I’m sure most who have traveled in pursuit of great food will attest, sometimes the journey is half the fun. Before the economic boom, it seemed every cable channel had a feature on the building of luxury Vegas and the fact that these type of joints where there for casinos high rollers. You don’t hear much about that anymore but it makes one wonder.. have the billionaires in those villa suites tired of traditional French cuisine? Perhaps they are all on the rave diet? If the heyday of fine dining in Vegas has indeed eclipsed I’m glad I was there for the ride. Then again, as others have noted, Wynn is always ahead of his time, perhaps a paradigm shift in fine dining is in the works as we speak….

  • unavoidable reference to Joni Mitchell . . . I’m gonna book me a table at Guy Savoy and blow a paycheck and do the same at Twist et all till I’m broke

  • Well frankly I have eatten at them all over the years. Nice if you got the dough to blow and/or are not on an expense account. But frankly, even for the high rollers, the economic times have changed dramatically and I take him at his word when Alex says high end French cooking is not in style anymore, at least in Vegas. Come on now, $300 pp to eat is a rare occasion, even if you are a Steve Wynn who now aapears to like to munch on a carrot and lettuce leaf for dinner these days!

  • I’ve read John’s column twice and, for the life of me, I can’t see what would, or should, make the Wynn people so upset. The closing, albeit abrupt, was an obvious business decision on Wynn’s part. The bigger question is whether top-shelf restaurants such as Alex are able to sustain themselves. Or, are the tables empty more than not?

    I would bet that the nightclub crowd isn’t supporting these fine establishments, as a rule. And, with the downturn in convention business, and/or the cutback of expense budgets for the attendees, I can only assume that the fine dining industry in Las Vegas in feeling the effects, as a whole.

    So, is “Steverino” angry because John was totally wrong about Wynn catering to the nightclub crowd, or because John brought it to everyone’s attention?

    I’m guessing the latter.

  • Just a side note of interest, if you go to the Wynn website and go to the dining tab, Alex is of course gone from the lineup. However, go to the photo of Alex Stratta, click it for the Stratta restaurant information, no Chef bio, nada. Just a photo of Chef Stratta. Every one of the other restaurant pages share a Chef’s bio, and some have voiceovers of the Chefs talking about their cuisine.

    If this was a decision “taken in response to demand from our guests,” as Wynn reported to the mainstream press, then why the snubs? Why so quick to close? Why nary a gracious public thank you from Steve Wynn for Alex Stratta’s friendship and what he brought to Wynn?

  • Chef Alex Stratta is not only alive and well but thriving in LAS VEGAS at WYNN at STRATTA, centrally located on the casino floor on the way to the theaters and serving imaginative Italian-influenced food not only to rave reviews but to throngs of people, so many, in fact, particularly the club crowd and late night gamblers, that they’re now open until 6 a.m. every night/morning and serve lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Or didn’t you know that?

    Take time off from your ranting, John, and tell the full story! Alex deserves it.

    BTW, you missed a great menu/dinner Saturday night… As for the staff, many have already been relocated within the WYNN restaurants. And also, BTW, they were gracious and professional, as always, and also remembered us…dating back to our visits to Renoir years ago. As I understand it, John, you didn’t have a reservation. We made ours as soon as Norm’s item ran. They were booked solid. Why should they kow-tow to you when other people are much more important, considerate, and polite. You were rude. You get what you give, John, and you got the boot.

  • thats funny, ELv controls the direction of dialog by deleting the previous post. I guess the trashy truth hurts

  • ELV doesn’t tolerate crude, witless, offensive profanity from anyone…
    If you have a point to make, make it without sounding like a teenage moron (as rideslow did on the deleted post) and we’ll listen to you and post it. Otherwise, start your own blog…but we advise getting an education first….something rideslow either doesn’t have or doesn’t wish to share with our readers…

  • The boss has the right to support and close any entity.
    The same hand that bankrolls an extravegent “Alex” has the ability to close it when he tires of underwriting a financial loss; particularly in a recesssion.
    The clientele, whether local or imported “whale” knows not the difference between sweetbreads or sweet rolls. They are just as happy with a big expensive high price steak and overpriced Cabat at SW. Sad but true.
    The problem at “Alex” is that a superior Chef was not at the Stove, but instead was a faux, celebrity administrator/ restaurantaur. Pleasant, charming but not his forte. Often in abstentia when asked for.”IN the back…I dont know where he is..etc.”
    Alex is a great Chef. Let him cook. I have had some of the best meals with him. However,
    Has he ever run a real restaurant. Ownnership,cost , risk, etc. I suspect not.
    My only complaint at “Alex” was the inconsistency. I would rather have hot food than hot plates.
    As a vingnette; several years ago I was dining as a guest of an associate who helped an elderly diner in distess in a restroom for 45 minutes. The paramedics were called. The only “Thanks” received is that they were willing to “warm”the tasting menu. Another time food cold, poor service. Alex called but offered no explanation. I suspect a true “owner” would act in a different manner.
    He understands formal sevice , but not true “personal “service.
    In a tight economy , this leads to red ink.
    I personally like Alex. I wish he could understand who his true friends/fans are; as opposed to the BS ers.
    Perhaps now he can relect. I hope his heath is good. I would love to talk to him.
    I hope he reads your blogs.

    Best wishes,

    DB

  • It was my understanding , that Mr. Wynn was supportive of Alex when ever he had problems in the past?
    It would be useful to hear from Alex to clear the air.

  • They didn’t like what you said or how you said it, but the most important thing they disliked was their own inability to plausibly deny the truth of what you said, and THAT, my friend, is the real reason why you were “made to feel unwelcome” (how’s that for a euphemistic turn of phrase?).

  • How is Alex’s health problems?

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