Monday, December 29, 2008

Baby Business...

Since the begining of this pregnancy the doc has given us a due date of late January, the 28th to be specific. The last few ultrasounds gave us indications that Baby E may be a rather large kid. Not a big surprise as Finn came in at 10-6. The biggest difference would be that while Finn had a rather large head Baby E seems to have very long legs. Good thing the school he's going to go to has a decent basketball program...

Anyway, the bottom line is the doctor has moved the target date up by a week with the caveat that if he starts to drop we are to make our way immediately to the hospital. I suppose we should probably put the crib together....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Restaurant(s) On The Road To Ruin.... Part #2

I had said last week that 'the restaurant that shall not be named' was being kept afloat by banquets and large parties. Seems the situation is a bit more dire. They've been able to snag all that business this holiday season by offering the party coordinators a 'double your dollar' promotion. Hey, I'd eat there if it was 50% off. OK, I wouldn't... but I would definitely walk out with a case or two of wine. The normal next steps in the death spiral would be early bird specials, kids eat free, and finally an all-you-can eat buffet. Last person to leave the building please blow out the candles....

In slightly more sad news we may be losing a real gem on the local scene. Sources tell me that unless business significantly improves or a white-knight investor steps in Sensi may be closing their doors in the first quarter of 2009. That would be a real shame. The food is excellent and may be some of the most creative we have here in RVA. Millie's, Lu-Lu's, and deLux are all good, but like so many other places in RVA, there is a distinct sameness to their dishes. Sensi uses a whole different taste palate and really raised the bar for food here. My only real complaint with Sensi would be the dining room seems a bit like they never finished the space. Regardless, here's to hoping they survive.

It's even possible we could see the closing of a third restaurant in that area. Morton's is considering going through a contraction in 2009 and the Richmond location is under preforming. While I'm not a huge fan of chains all this does not bode well for the Richmond dining scene. Unless you are looking for a new space... Then there may be some nice pre-outfitted spaces coming available....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's Wrong With RVA Blogs?...

There have been some grumblings of late about RVA Blogs. It was bound to happen when you put that many people in a room. Most of the discourse is pretty civil with opposing views discussed in an appropriate manner. Others, like one vitriolic right wing site, use name calling in the place of debate and I really don't know what to make of the homophobic nazi skateboard punk site.

My issue is with the explosion of commercial sites and pseudo-blogs (articles from media sites package to look like a blog) drowning out the voices of the people of Richmond. If I want to read 'Mash Up Crew' (an amateur attempt by the RTD to be cool and hip) I'll go to their site. Same with InRich and the flood of other 'blog' postings Media General is foisting upon us.

The other commercial sites are harder to judge. Personally, I get annoyed when I click on an interesting title only to find out they are really just trying to sell me something or promote their business (and no, my business blog is not aggregated on RVA Blogs). On the other hand, sites like VA Family Law blog don't seem to really be selling anything and are really quite interesting.

There is an interesting discussion starting over on Urban Richmonds site. Sadly he no longer seems to be aggregated. Go on over, read and join the discussion. In the discussion Ross says they are going to be working on a redesign for the aggregator for 2009. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. I had been mulling for a number of months leaving the aggregator. I'll hold off on that decision to see what they come up with.

Oh... and welcome back Urban Richmond!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Restaurant On The Road To Ruin....

Looks like we may be soon losing one of the more well-established restaruants here in RVA. The end brought about not by the economy but rather by poor decisions and management in-fighting.

The restaurant here was created to revive a well established name that had closed in a northern city after years of decline. The place was a hit. No reservation, no table. Food and wine flowed freely and diners indulged to their hearts content. Success, though, can lead to overreaching and overextending. Several more local restaurants were opened or partnered with and plans to reopen the flagship up north were put into motion. As the managing partner withdrew to these other projects (we'll call him 'Journey') problems started popping up. On-site managers were not given the authority to make decisions and routinely had their choices overruled based on back-room gossip. Frustration set in and, while restaurants always have a fairly high level of intrigue, this one was becoming toxic.

In the midst of this commodity prices started spiking. Rather then raise prices a couple of signature items disappeared and, when the menus were reprinted, a key word was missing - Prime. Of course, rather then tell the customers they were now being served Choice, no mention of the beef grade was present on the menu. Guess they were hoping no one would notice. People did. Other shortcuts started creeping in. Not enough turtle meat in the soup to make it last another day? No problem. Dice up some chicken and throw it in!

The head chef, working from his open kitchen, would yell, cuss and swear at the staff and give a running commentary on the guests walking by. Personally, if I heard a member of staff say about my wife as we walked by 'I'd let her sit on my face and take a crap' there would be a bit of a scene... Some chefs should just not work in kitchens where they are exposed to the public.

As the re-opening of the original restaurant was repeatedly delayed a series of temporary managers served their time in RVA. With no vested interest in the local establishment they were the definition of the term 'empty suit'. One General Manager was ousted in a palace coup by another manager who immediately went from being effective to a 'sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen' by spending his time snapping the hostesses G-strings. Slacker staff put more energy into gossip and theiving, while the management turned a blind eye, and harder working staff members left as they realized all the delayed promises would never be filled.

Customer traffic dwindled. The drop in beef grade. Pasteurized crab from Indonesia. Frozen farmed shrimp. Turtle soup made with chicken. When your paying premium prices one should expect to receive premium ingredients.

The mother restaurant reopened and, while it is still operating, is doing so under bankruptcy protection. The family partner's (we'll call them the Cabs) and Journey's relationship became strained. Banquets and parties (brought in by a very competant banquet manager) keep the place alive in RVA but the Cab's and Journey's inability to gain a consensus on the direction of the restaurant have come to an impasse. Journey and the foul mouthed chef have threatened to shut the place down and open a new eatery in the West End - leaving the remaining staff to their own devices. Senior staff, reading the writing on the wall have left or are keeping the resumes updated.

Rumours of a Fall closing did not come to pass. Personally, I think the Holiday season followed by the legislature coming into session are just to lucrative to pass up. If they are to close, my guess would be to see a sudden appearance of a padlock right after Valentine's. After that date I would not use cash to pay for a banquet deposit... use a credit card, just in case.

Note - I will not post any comments using the restaurants actual name or any of the players involved. Use pseudonyms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why yes.... I am still alive.

I've received a number of emails and comments asking about my current silence. Suffice it to say that after my little health scare in October I seem to have had my writing impulses removed, pharmaceutically.... I do have a couple of posts in the works and, if the economy improves, may actually start going back out to eat...

For those of you who cared.... Thanks.

For those of you waiting for me to stir the shit... Failed mayoral candidate (and not really a bad guy) Robert Grey did just say 'Hi' to me (by name!!!) and is sitting a few bar stools over having a martini...