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Are expensive restaurants an endangered species?

The pandemic did many in. The closing of Denmark's Noma, hailed as the world's most innovative restaurant, was necessitated, according to the chef-owner, because the model is unsustainable. In the NYT, Southern chef Vivian Howard writes of experiencing similar problems with her North Carolina restaurant specializing in regional produce and foodstuffs, where the average dining tab was $60 a piece. She says her new restaurant will be different and more sustainable.

"I plan to reopen Chef & the Farmer in the next year. It will suit both the guests and the people who feed them. We won’t rely on the diners to pay servers; the chefs will serve, cafeteria style, at our retrofitted kitchen bar. The energy we put into elevated service and its trappings will flow directly into the only “program” we have chosen to keep — our food. Most important, we will open to diners just four days a week, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., because that’s the kind of schedule that nurtures staff retention.

But our kitchen will make money seven days a week, because we’ll be cooking for people whose butts are not in our dining room. Chefs who have graduated from nights on the line to quiet days in the kitchen will cook meals to stock the restaurant’s small collection of free-standing, strategically located smart fridges. Covid gave us many horrible things, but it also birthed a new and relatively inexpensive way to enjoy food tapped by a chef’s magic wand at home. Next-level take-and-bakes, chef-prepared assemble-and-eats and pasta deliveries, when coupled with an already operating kitchen, will help make us whole."

Do you think fine dining is living on borrowed time? What chance does Vivian's new place have for success?

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by Anonymousreply 33January 30, 2023 12:11 AM

$60 is expensive?

by Anonymousreply 1January 27, 2023 4:32 PM

Preposterous claim OP.

There are increasing numbers of filthy rich people in the world, and many of them are ostentatious and love to spend money on luxuries.

by Anonymousreply 2January 27, 2023 4:58 PM

The expensive restaurants in my city are thriving

by Anonymousreply 3January 27, 2023 5:00 PM

In rural North Carolina.

She had a PBS series and a cookbook.

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by Anonymousreply 4January 27, 2023 5:00 PM

I’ve never eaten at The Chef and The Farmer but know lots of people who have.

Vivian Howard’s main problem is that she’s as important as the food to many of the people that make the pilgrimage down NC Highway 70 to Kinston. She’s in her cookbook and charity celebrity chef dinner stage of her career and can’t be there at the restaurant as much and diners are disappointed when they’ve made the long trip and don’t get to see her.

by Anonymousreply 5January 27, 2023 5:17 PM

no "expensive" restaurants are not an endangered species but quality food is....

so, much of the trend of fining dining has become hipster homestyle.

by Anonymousreply 6January 27, 2023 5:19 PM

^ hipster homestyle or needlessly exotic. not be confused with fusion but tiktok challenge style foods.

by Anonymousreply 7January 27, 2023 5:21 PM

that poll is depressing,

the dl has been invaded by the poors.

by Anonymousreply 8January 27, 2023 5:22 PM

What is hipster homestyle? Needlessly exotic describes the late Noma.

by Anonymousreply 9January 27, 2023 5:22 PM

r9 public school cafeteria of the 70s. single mother on welfare of the 80s. spray cheese and lunchables on a gilded plate.

by Anonymousreply 10January 27, 2023 5:26 PM

Nope. Nor are private clubs. The majoroty (especially online) have never been most of the customers.

by Anonymousreply 11January 27, 2023 5:34 PM

r9 in truth, it's more often deli and street food.. with chefs desiring celebrity but having little to none for cooking. You find more legit chefs with hotels, boutiques, retreats, these days but then the sourcing usually takes a dive. Foodie tours seem the better market, anyway... you get to meet the chef, have a private cooking class, etc.

Restaurants have always been difficult - but it seems this is a trend everywhere.. the old guard are dying, retiring or just moving on from restaurants while the new guard has more ego than skills and try to sell the experience as political when its crap on a cracker level. The entire experience (design, aesthetics, etc) of new restaurants is school production level while many of the old merely hang-on because of historically famed status... so, you find more of the older crowd moving to smaller mid-tier while the under 40 crowd struggle with finding a cohesive theme... they don't seem to invest as much on their own, either. Which is probably why so many are complete shitshows.

by Anonymousreply 12January 27, 2023 5:40 PM

No, they can charge anything and there will be people with enough money to pay for it. Even 0.01% of the population is enough to sustain it.

by Anonymousreply 13January 27, 2023 5:42 PM

Unless it’s a special event, there is no need to go to a restaurant that charges over $100 per person.

by Anonymousreply 14January 27, 2023 5:43 PM

$60 per person is more like a middle-class splurge dinner.

by Anonymousreply 15January 27, 2023 5:47 PM

I wonder if restaurants are hurting because fewer people date. Is business entertaining what it used to be five years ago? Aren't bro-style steakhouses doing as well as they always have? I know they're not necessarily considered fine dining but they're not cheap.

by Anonymousreply 16January 27, 2023 5:48 PM

r16 that's part of it. The younger generations aren't keen to dress up (formal) to go out and to be honest, even with celebrities, a good portion of them can't even fit in the seats. They have no manners, thus they are unable to deal with more than four pieces of silverware and need seating with an outlet for their phones. And the kind of party favours they use in the restrooms are not conducive to the environment.

They're less apt to invest in formal dining, however, they have little sense when it comes to money, so they'll pay top dollar for any meal. . . that's why when so many are roughing it and discover something like target or costco they become cults. They're apt to take out loans for heels or sneakers, and think nothing of it. They can neither live on 20k nor 100k+ -- which is the standard plight of young people in general, regardless of generation, but the real kick less older people are dining out in these establishments. . . they're more selective about the where and when, so even with money to burn, we find them investing in more well rounded experiences and the pragmatic, i.e. on-site parking, limited waiting with reservations, private dining rooms, take out / catering. older people no longer care for the fine dining experience... and restaurateurs have little interest in appealing to sensibilities the older generations as they don't spend as much, as often despite being more likely to provide a stable income. And certainly, you don't attract many critics when you're appealing to older crowd, save in a few other nations or on the hill.

by Anonymousreply 17January 27, 2023 6:04 PM

I don't half understand what name restaurants mean by sustainability -- sustainability of profits and business viability? sustainability of food sources? food waste and energy consumption? agricultural production and transportation consequences?

What's so unsustainable about turning out 40 servings of reindeer brain custard a night (4 reserved for traveling culinary students)?

The very idea of being a top ranked restaurant with bookings months and years in advance from people building a trip around a dinner doesn't seem the utmost in environmental stewardship, for instance, no matter if the reindeer brains are grown just on my the on the other side of my the restaurant parking lot.

Sustainability seems more a bow to some touchstone subjects that a sustainable business or dining concept. And if offal and nasty parts of foods are offered up as delicacies that would be thrown away otherwise, why do those restaurants always charge so much for food only the poorest and the richest and most elevated and brave of palates dare eat?

Anyone can understand the importance of securing the best, the freshest ingredients. Only assholes understand the 'Portlandia' excesses of that goal.

As long as there are people with notably more money than others there will be "fine dining.". The shape that restaurant type is the factor that changes.

by Anonymousreply 18January 27, 2023 6:06 PM

Any D.C diners here?

What I love about most of the fine dining establishments - they have a legitimate happy hour.

It's a simple thing and I know it seems rather gauche but you can go in and get quality food for an affordable price and it's not all just bar food. Some also have certain days of the months, they do it from opening to evening.

You find the same within most capitals. Which is a shame since you usually have to deal with more vagrants than metro cities.

But also, again, it's that pragmatic stuff... with most you don't have search for parking, they have private dining rooms if not more than one, at least additional semi private and often options to rent the entire restaurant out with negotiable pricing based on immediate variables. If they don't have enough on-site parking, then they have vallet or a couple have their own buses (to the parking lot or having a dedicated waiting space for those waiting for a taxi or other transport is always a nice touch. In truth, though, when I'm having to wait on the street, it's more that people are afraid I'm the vagrant - tall, lone, guy of questionable origin hovering outside a fine place, at night you get the asshole cops. so, I'd much rather have a space to wait than deal with those assumptions.) - so few offer those kind of services, anymore.

by Anonymousreply 19January 27, 2023 6:32 PM

Right before Covid, I had a nice, fine-dining experience, party of two. Excellent service. Courses (3) came out at the same time, no rushed feeling. I ordered cioppino (something similar) and it was nice and hot, heated bowl as well. White tablecloth, bread and butter, table was "crumbed" by a worker. The only thing I regret is acting like a rube / yahoo and filling up on the excellent bread and butter.

That restaurant is now closed, so I'm glad I got to experience it.

by Anonymousreply 20January 27, 2023 6:52 PM

Restaurants are a middle class thing and the middle class is shriveling.

by Anonymousreply 21January 27, 2023 7:14 PM

Super-exclusive, hard to get reservations are also creating a ridiculously high barrier to entry. Shit like Carbone and Atomix. Many people who might pony up the cash for these places more and more are like “fuck this.” I mean they’re still wildly successful - but kinda lame at the same time. Like standing on line for a cronut.

by Anonymousreply 22January 27, 2023 7:25 PM

Are we counted as expensive, OP? We fed trans women of color for free on Sundays!

by Anonymousreply 23January 27, 2023 7:25 PM

Vivian Howard is arrogant and rude.

by Anonymousreply 24January 27, 2023 8:11 PM

Is the context Rural Virginia and Pittsburg? Or New York, Paris and Dubai?

by Anonymousreply 25January 27, 2023 8:20 PM

HAGS: Now and Forever

by Anonymousreply 26January 27, 2023 8:31 PM

Gracious, attentive, inconspicuous service is a big part of the overall enjoyment of fine dining. Owners don’t want to pay for that when instead they can just put out troughs of food and yell “Sooie!! sooooo-ieee!!” and the customers will come stampeding.

by Anonymousreply 27January 27, 2023 9:43 PM

I just took 9 people out to lunch and it cast only $300. Save your money!

by Anonymousreply 28January 27, 2023 10:24 PM

I haven't been to a fine-doning restaurant since early 2020!

My excuse is that I'm a vegetarian and so are many of the friends I dine with, and you get a far wider range of good meatless options at a hoke in the wall ethnic restaurant than you do at a white-linen establishment. Fine restaurants have limited menus, with one or two meatless options, while a good Indian place will have ten or twenty!

by Anonymousreply 29January 28, 2023 11:49 AM

There's none left around here, sadly.

by Anonymousreply 30January 28, 2023 1:51 PM

NYT took a swing at Noma describing a beetle made of fruit leather that adorned dining plates and an appetizer of a shrimp so recently killed that it was still quivering and was festooned with ants. Tack that onto not paying his interns and Noma absolutely deserves to go out of business.

A bigger problem is that of the very average, completely forgettable restaurant, where your dinner will cost the equivalent of what might have been your grocery budget for the week. As the prices go up, so do the expectations of the average diner and when they are not met, patrons feel cheated and take it out on the waitstaff.

by Anonymousreply 31January 29, 2023 11:20 PM

They were before my time, but I would love to see a revival of "automats" and would be willing to pay a little more for higher end foods at them.

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by Anonymousreply 32January 29, 2023 11:46 PM

The other reason I'm not as interested in fine dining as I used to be, is because the older I get the more I appreciate the beauty of simple foods well done. Can any amount of tortured molecular gastronomy approach the sheer delicious perfection of good brie on a fresh-baked baugette? Or a salad of home-grown tomatoes and sweet onions?

Molecular gastronomy is for jaded rich fuckers who just want to taste something new, whether it's good or not. Fuck that, to hell with anything too elaborate, a bowl of tomato egg drop soup from my local hole-in-the-wall is better for the taste buds, the body, and the soul!

by Anonymousreply 33January 30, 2023 12:11 AM
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