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Recent Closings Unheralded


chefdavidrusso
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I'm surprised that no one has commented on the closing of two of New Jersey's most venerated dining destinations....The Ryland Inn, and the Dining Room at the Hilton Short Hills.

As far as I know right now, the Dining Room is only closed temporarily (albeit a long temporary) while they do some renovation to the space and possibly rethink the concept. After Chef Dennis left, I think "they" decided to sieze the opportunity that was presented to them and take some of the perceived stuffiness out of the restaurant.

The Ryland Inn is closed more permanently....they claim the cause was a "water-main break", but my sources (one former employee, a reliable pastry chef close to the restaurant, and a long-time NJ chef who knows Chef Shelton) tell me that there were other problems afoot. Out of respect for (and to help preserve) the good name and reputation of both the chef and the inn, I won't eloborate.

Obviously, any other confirmations or refutations (is that a word?) would be welcome - Rosie, have you heard anything? I am, after all, but one man......

Nothing says I love you like a homemade salami

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The Ryland Inn's website says it is a temporary closing for repairs:

http://www.rylandinn.com/statusmessage/

As to the Hilton's Dining Room, I never dined there but the stuffy Escoffier-style hotel dining model from years ago is off-putting to today's younger, hipper crowd. Today, hotels need a notable chef's name and a high-style transforming interior design to draw in diners. Maybe Chef Shelton and Hilton should get together?!

Edited by jim07044 (log)
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"Out of respect for (and to help preserve) the good name and reputation of both the chef and the inn, I won't eloborate."

Ditto

Since when do news reporters let this stop them? Is there an "official" public statement about this closing, or is it all rumor and innuendo?

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"Out of respect for (and to help preserve) the good name and reputation of both the chef and the inn, I won't eloborate."

Ditto

Many years ago I learned that if you don't want to spill the beans then don't remove the lid. I do believe that that is exactly what David and Rosie have done and in all fairness to the Ryland Inn they have done a huge disservice to the restaurant/owner. By their remarks they now have many people wondering and doubting what exactly is the problem. Was it a sanitation problem similar to the restaurant in NY a few weeks ago (rats) or one of a 100 other horrific reasons why a "money making" restaurant that was always packed (had to make reservations way in advance and charged quite a bit for the right to eat there) had to close.

If they re-open I am certain that many people who have read these posts will think twice about going back to the Ryland Inn until they know exactly what the reason was to "preserve a name and reputation".

Hopefully there is a very simple explanation for their closing but then again if that were so David would have no reason for not mentioning it.

So, David and Rosie, I truly believe you have hurt the reputation of a chef rather than protecting him for whatever your personal reasons. Am I wrong? I certainly hope so.

Hank

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A water pipe broke at The Ryland Inn and there was damage that is being repaired. This information was in the newspapers.

David said in his post that there were other probelms afoot and that coming from a pastry chef. So Rosie, did you "ditto" that also? It seemed that way to me.

Hank

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Sorry for the misrepresentation Hank.  I was not dittoing the pastry chef. And be nice as I am still willing to share one of my many bottles of Turley with you!

I am very happy to learn of the misrep. I know you long enough to know that you would never post anything hurtful about anyone as unfortunately David has done. I have been to the Ryland Inn often and they deserve better than that. If they have problems I am sure that they will work them out. Shelton is one smart dude and an excellent chef.

So far this year I have been very nice and will certainly continue to be nice so that we can share one of your Turleys. Maybe at Blu which has become one of our favorite restaurants this side of the GWB.

Hank

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I am very happy to learn of the misrep. I know you long enough to know that you would never post anything hurtful about anyone as unfortunately David has done. I have been to the Ryland Inn often and they deserve better than that. If they have problems I am sure that they will work them out. Shelton is one smart dude and an excellent chef.

Hank, I'm sorry that you feel I have done a diservice to the Ryland Inn and to Chef Shelton; you are ceratinly entitled to your opinion. You ask in your first post "Am I wrong? I certainly hope so."

I believe that you are.

Nothing I have said (or not said, as the case may be) in any way guides the reader to one specific conclusion or another about the situation at the Inn. And while I appreciate your confidence in my ability to sway public opinion, I think you've grossly overstated my influence. People will draw myriad conclusions from my information; some will take it very seriously, some will ignore it, some will think I'm a lying SOB. Those conclusions will have myriad effects; it will lead some to flock to the Ryland Inn, it will lead some to conciously stear clear, and it will lead some to remain blissfully appathetic. I'm pretty certain that the relative percentages of each group will stay fairly consistent to the pre-closing level.

Here are a couple of pieces of information about the restaurant industry that may not be widely known: (I mention these points not in specific relation to the Ryland Inn, but simply for general knowledge purposes)

#1 - That a restaurant is always full and has a high check average can have very little relation to it's ability to survive. Success has alot more to do with food and labor percentages as compared to that check average than the civilian public thinks. People assume that because a restaurant is doing well that they must be making money hand-over-fist. Unfortunately that's not always the case. There are alot of other costs involved that can eat away at the profits

#2 - "Water Main Break" is a long standing euphamism in the restaurant industry that is used to cover a variety of other causes for closing. ("Closed for Renovation" is another favorite) If every restaurant that claims water main problems actually had them, I'd be more concerned about the failures of our public infrastructure than of our restaurant community. That being said, there are restaurants to whom this really does occur - case in point is a well known, long famous restaurant in Manhattan that is struggling with this. A delivery driver from my company walked in one day and saw water pouring from the ceiling. So it does happen, just not as often as claimed.

Let me also make clear that I did not in any way claim in the intial post that there wasn't a water main break, and I apologize if that was the implication. Rather, there are/were other problems that (when taken in combination with any infrastructure issues) led to the closing.

I truly hope the Ryland Inn reopens, and I wish them all the luck and success that I can. If it doesn't, then I hope that Chef Shelton re-emerges with bigger and better projects. He has earned every well-desreved accolade that comes his way, and he is a great asset to the New Jersey dining scene.

Edited by chefdavidrusso (log)

Nothing says I love you like a homemade salami

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I am very happy to learn of the misrep. I know you long enough to know that you would never post anything hurtful about anyone as unfortunately David has done. I have been to the Ryland Inn often and they deserve better than that. If they have problems I am sure that they will work them out. Shelton is one smart dude and an excellent chef.

Hank, I'm sorry that you feel I have done a diservice to the Ryland Inn and to Chef Shelton; you are ceratinly entitled to your opinion. You ask in your first post "Am I wrong? I certainly hope so."

I believe that you are.

Nothing I have said (or not said, as the case may be) in any way guides the reader to one specific conclusion or another about the situation at the Inn. And while I appreciate your confidence in my ability to sway public opinion, I think you've grossly overstated my influence. People will draw myriad conclusions from my information; some will take it very seriously, some will ignore it, some will think I'm a lying SOB. Those conclusions will have myriad effects; it will lead some to flock to the Ryland Inn, it will lead some to conciously stear clear, and it will lead some to remain blissfully appathetic. I'm pretty certain that the relative percentages of each group will stay fairly consistent to the pre-closing level.

Here are a couple of pieces of information about the restaurant industry that may not be widely known: (I mention these points not in specific relation to the Ryland Inn, but simply for general knowledge purposes)

#1 - That a restaurant is always full and has a high check average can have very little relation to it's ability to survive. Success has alot more to do with food and labor percentages as compared to that check average than the civilian public thinks. People assume that because a restaurant is doing well that they must be making money hand-over-fist. Unfortunately that's not always the case. There are alot of other costs involved that can eat away at the profits

#2 - "Water Main Break" is a long standing euphamism in the restaurant industry that is used to cover a variety of other causes for closing. ("Closed for Renovation" is another favorite) If every restaurant that claims water main problems actually had them, I'd be more concerned about the failures of our public infrastructure than of our restaurant community. That being said, there are restaurants to whom this really does occur - case in point is a well known, long famous restaurant in Manhattan that is struggling with this. A delivery driver from my company walked in one day and saw water pouring from the ceiling. So it does happen, just not as often as claimed.

Let me also make clear that I did not in any way claim in the intial post that there wasn't a water main break, and I apologize if that was the implication. Rather, there are/were other problems that (when taken in combination with any infrastructure issues) led to the closing.

I truly hope the Ryland Inn reopens, and I wish them all the luck and success that I can. If it doesn't, then I hope that Chef Shelton re-emerges with bigger and better projects. He has earned every well-desreved accolade that comes his way, and he is a great asset to the New Jersey dining scene.

I appreciate your answer to my post but how in God's name can we not infer that there is something drastically wrong with either Shelton personally or his Inn when you say"more problems afoot and out of respect and to preserve the good name and reputation you will not elaborate". Sorry, but you opened the can of beans/ worms and by not letting people know of why he had to close a very fine and successful restaurant you will have to eat your words.

As a chef you must very well know how even the slightest possibility of a major problem (and I assume this may be one) can destroy a restaurant and or chef. Some things are much better not said until the truth becomes public knowledge from all sides and we and Shelton can all make our own decisions. To me your original post is no more than a teaser/gossip and I am sure that Shelton does not appreciate it in the least.

Edited by Hank (log)

Hank

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It is absolutely true that there was a water main break that caused extensive damage to the electrical panels in the basement. Not only that infrastuctural damage to a very old building must be checked. Many pipes broke due to freezing conditions. The Ryland Inn and Craig Shelton do plan on reopening and if anyone knows Craig well enough, they would know that this will happen when everything is perfect. When that is I don't know.

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It is absolutely true that there was a water main break that caused extensive damage to the electrical panels in the basement. Not only that infrastuctural damage to a very old building must be checked.  Many pipes broke due to freezing conditions. The Ryland Inn and Craig Shelton do plan on reopening and if anyone knows Craig well enough, they would know that this will happen when everything is perfect. When that is I don't know.

So what's all the secrecy about? This is nothing to be embarrassed about. Is there a shortage of funds necessary to expedite this reopening? Is that the shame?

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It is absolutely true that there was a water main break that caused extensive damage to the electrical panels in the basement. Not only that infrastuctural damage to a very old building must be checked.  Many pipes broke due to freezing conditions. The Ryland Inn and Craig Shelton do plan on reopening and if anyone knows Craig well enough, they would know that this will happen when everything is perfect. When that is I don't know.

what is your connection with the restaurant that affords you this information and the insight into Chef Shelton's plans?

i'm no bettin' man, but i'm guessing we don't see Craig at the place when it opens, at least not in the same capacity.

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It is absolutely true that there was a water main break that caused extensive damage to the electrical panels in the basement. Not only that infrastuctural damage to a very old building must be checked.  Many pipes broke due to freezing conditions. The Ryland Inn and Craig Shelton do plan on reopening and if anyone knows Craig well enough, they would know that this will happen when everything is perfect. When that is I don't know.

I honestly hope and pray that that was the reason (and a good and necessary one) to close the restaurant, BUT then why feed us the "stuff" about good name and reputation. Either David has some very wrong info which in my opinion he should not have alluded to or there is a lot more to come out of this.

Hank

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this is the internet and it's where people go to discuss things they've heard. if david has "wrong info" how would he even know? he seemed to have come here to find out what the word on the street is.

i don't think david's comments are really going to negatively impact the career or well-being of craig shelton. quite the contrary: no one has talked about this place in years, so it'll only help his career.

i've heard that he wants a career in front of the camera. is anyone going to tell me that i shouldn't have said that? the lady doth protest too much.

Edited by tommy (log)
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this is the internet and it's where people go to discuss things they've heard.  if david has "wrong info" how would he even know?  he seemed to have come here to find out what the word on the street is.

i don't think david's comments are really going to negatively impact the career or well-being of craig shelton.  quite the contrary:  no one has talked about this place in years, so it'll only help his career.

i've heard that he wants a career in front of the camera.  is anyone going to tell me that i shouldn't have said that?  the lady doth protest too much.

I totally disagree. David says in his post (please re-read it) that he has reliable info from the pastry chef who is close to the restaurant that there were other problems afoot and out of respect to Shelton's good name and rep he will not elaborate. Come on sir. He is basically telling us that he has some dirty laundry that he does not want to talk about which is ofcourse his perogotive but then why hang it out in the first place? Why didn't you or anyone else elaborate on that? And that is the primary jist of my posts. Also, there is no way that you can say that a negative comment could not hurt Shelton's career. You well know how little it takes in the restaurant business for people to stop coming to you. You want names, I've got them but certainly not in public.

Hank

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this is the internet and it's where people go to discuss things they've heard.  if david has "wrong info" how would he even know?  he seemed to have come here to find out what the word on the street is.

i don't think david's comments are really going to negatively impact the career or well-being of craig shelton.  quite the contrary:  no one has talked about this place in years, so it'll only help his career.

i've heard that he wants a career in front of the camera.  is anyone going to tell me that i shouldn't have said that?  the lady doth protest too much.

I totally disagree. David says in his post (please re-read it) that he has reliable info from the pastry chef who is close to the restaurant that there were other problems afoot and out of respect to Shelton's good name and rep he will not elaborate. Come on sir. He is basically telling us that he has some dirty laundry that he does not want to talk about which is ofcourse his perogotive but then why hang it out in the first place? Why didn't you or anyone else elaborate on that? And that is the primary jist of my posts. Also, there is no way that you can say that a negative comment could not hurt Shelton's career. You well know how little it takes in the restaurant business for people to stop coming to you. You want names, I've got them but certainly not in public.

I have to agree with Hank. Either don't say anything or come out with the story. I think its worse to say that you know something but are not going say it to protect the reputation of the chef. Come on now.

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Hang on a second. It's not as though David has a history of coming on this site to start rumors; he's saying he has inside information, but isn't revealing it. Rosie seems to know more too, but in her case, she's getting a pass (which I agree with) because she's a journalist. Why are the two different? David is in the same profession as Chef Shelton...

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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this is the internet and it's where people go to discuss things they've heard.  if david has "wrong info" how would he even know?  he seemed to have come here to find out what the word on the street is.

i don't think david's comments are really going to negatively impact the career or well-being of craig shelton.  quite the contrary:  no one has talked about this place in years, so it'll only help his career.

i've heard that he wants a career in front of the camera.  is anyone going to tell me that i shouldn't have said that?  the lady doth protest too much.

I totally disagree. David says in his post (please re-read it) that he has reliable info from the pastry chef who is close to the restaurant that there were other problems afoot and out of respect to Shelton's good name and rep he will not elaborate. Come on sir. He is basically telling us that he has some dirty laundry that he does not want to talk about which is ofcourse his perogotive but then why hang it out in the first place? Why didn't you or anyone else elaborate on that? And that is the primary jist of my posts. Also, there is no way that you can say that a negative comment could not hurt Shelton's career. You well know how little it takes in the restaurant business for people to stop coming to you. You want names, I've got them but certainly not in public.

you seem to be bent on some idea that there's something going on with Shelton that no one should know about but Dave does. I agree that there might have been some "nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, i know something you don't" tone there, but i think it was harmless.

bottom line: The Ryland Inn has been a non-entity for a while, and rumors have been circulating that the Ryland Inn has been struggling (for a variety of reasons i'm sure) , and that Craig is looking to move on. if you haven't been part of that i can see how you might think that David is suggesting something insidious, but he's not. "good name" and all of that is just a turn of phrase. no one has suggested that Craig had a nervous breakdown or ran off with a prostitute or anything like that. it's just the usual gossip of "Man, I heard Craig might want to move on, and rather than state that outright, I'm wondering if anyone else heard the same".

I have, Hank, and so have a lot of other people. You are free to judge others for sharing what they've heard, and holding back details, but I think it's misguided in this situation.

i really don't have a dog in this race, but time will tell.

editing: keeping my percentage of typos/words up where it needs to be, apparently.

Edited by tommy (log)
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He is basically telling us that he has some dirty laundry that he does not want to talk about

Hank, please be certain that you differentiate between your inferences and what I actually said. Never did I say, imply, or otherwise indicate that the "other problems" were necessarily dirty. There are many, many things that can contribute to a restaurant closing - all of which fall under that umbrella of "other problems." Yes, some of those reasons may be less than savory, but there are alot of them that are perfectly innocent. I simply chose not to elaborate. You ask, "how in God's name can we not infer that there is something drastically wrong with either Shelton personally or his Inn." What you choose to infer is your own domaine and no one elses. Please do not attempt to shift that responsibility to me.

At this point, several things are obvious to me. First - you will not be satisfied with what I have said so far. Second - I am not going to say any more. So I would like to suggest that this particular portion of the discussion come to a gentle close. I stand by my post, along with everything that was and was not said in it. If not everyone agrees, I can certainly respect that. But a protracted volley of "you said, I said" will benefit no one.

Nothing says I love you like a homemade salami

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How much do we even need anyone to point-blank say? Just take a look at their website and figure it out for yourself: Ryland "New American and Steak House Cuisine"? What on earth is that? That's not the restaurant that won 4 stars from the New York Times! That's not the chef who was on the cover of Gourmet. Small plates and steakhouse specialties? And what's with that wine list? What a crime. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to see that things have apparently been getting increasingly screwy. I could get really dark here, but it sounds like the water main break was almost lucky.

Don't get me wrong: my wife and I used to love this place. It was charming and romantic, with a level of style and service that NJ had never seen. But then I had several bad experiences (with 1 last bright visit 2 autumns ago when I thought things were changing for the better). I really have huge respect for Craig's accomplishments and am saddened by what is happening. But it looks like something went terribly wrong in recent years.

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