Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sam Mason's Tailor has Arrived


Recommended Posts

Sam is a great Pastry Chef and I must agree here that the blogs serve a certain purpose, it's not the networking medium for every establishment, mine included. I learned the hard way that blogging before the customers needs were taken care of was paramount. I simply did not have enough resources to manage the then (2004) exploding social media outlets while attempting to open a restaurant. As a result, Moto went through a massive and difficult transition of constantly playing catchup with overly misinterpreted expectations. Thankfully it worked out in the end and now I can say we are stiil standing. But given the chance to do it all over again - I would have downplayed all facets of our restaurant all over the internet.

As a diner, I am always the optimistic one in our group who hypes up every dining experience, weather it be Tailor (amazing 3 times), a burger joint up the street, or Wo Hop in Chinatown. When I do this, I do it because it's impossible for me to be let down as I know the experience will leave a positive memory EVERYTIME (yes I am just a food fanatic across all platforms). It's just the way I look at every restaurant, there is something great about all of them. However, my guests or co diners are almost always let down in this case.

The three times I dined at Tailor we had a revelation in cocktail majic and of course, Sam's genius with desserts.

We forget to view restaurants as they were originally intended - non biologically related "families" that are working to prepare your next meal and share with your their vision in gastronomy. When blogging, it is impossible to capture that and totally impossible to describe it as the restauranteurs intended you to see it. And that should never be overhyped, its like dating, there should be some mystery, some apprehension, and most of all, some respect for your "date".

Case in point, none of the blogs I saw on Tailor made me want to go there but when I did, I loved it! Every time.

Sam will rise again and he will certainly nail the next shop in spades. Little known fact - I have been a part of 4 closed restaurants in my short career. The only difference between successful people and unsuccessful ones is that successful people have made more mistakes. I should have a gold medal for all the mistakes I have made. Thankfully now, we can blog away without not sleeping at night (its 5:30 am as I write this:) and move forward.

Now after reading that watch these videos, its the only way I have found "blogging" or my way of "blogging" to work. I simply have to use video as that was my social medium growing up (memories of Jaques Pepin and Julia Child come to mind) and it's really the only way I can blog. However, it still fails to capture the essence of what I put on my dinner table.

If someone knows how to embed videos in egullet, let me know - I have 2 experiences at Tailor I would love to put them up here ( I am a video FREAK).

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/videos/future-food-gastronomic-geniuses.html

And most importantly, these which are dedicated to Egullet - www.disruptivefood.com

-Homaro Cantu-

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think there's any question that the initial hype contributed to the downfall of what was really a superb restaurant.

I disagree with that whole-heartedly. PR is the most invaluable thing in the NY dining scene, and short of a yellow DOH sticker there is no such thing as bad publicity. Take it from a guy who has been a part of several excellent restaurants that failed do to lack of PR, and one restaurant that turns people away to this day because of a TV show that aired 4 years ago.

Tailor went under because modern cooking (or whatever you may call it) is inexplicably unpopular in NYC. We have WD-50, and to a much less touted extent (intentionally), Aldea and Jean Georges. Compared to us, D.C. is like Spain.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think there's any question that the initial hype contributed to the downfall of what was really a superb restaurant.

I disagree with that whole-heartedly. PR is the most invaluable thing in the NY dining scene, and short of a yellow DOH sticker there is no such thing as bad publicity. Take it from a guy who has been a part of several excellent restaurants that failed do to lack of PR, and one restaurant that turns people away to this day because of a TV show that aired 4 years ago.

There are usually multiple reasons for a failure. All Nathan said was contributed to, and I think this is correct. There's an old saying that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but Tailor was the exception. Practically everyone thought that Tailor's pre-opening publicity made Mason look foolish. Even Frank Bruni commented on it.

Tailor went under because modern cooking (or whatever you may call it) is inexplicably unpopular in NYC. We have WD-50, and to a much less touted extent (intentionally), Aldea and Jean Georges. Compared to us, D.C. is like Spain.

Well...given that there have been successful examples of it here, even if only a few, one must seek other explanations. Of course, there are others too: the front-of-house was not well run, and Mason's original menu didn't have the right mix of sweet to savory dishes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the problem was that it wasn't the type of place that was going to get a lot of repeat business and it was in the middle of nowhere. The block was empty. There aren't many people who are going to head out for that kind of cooking on a regular basis. (I've never been to WD50, but I don't know that it's food is quite as outlandish as Tailor's.)

Edited by Stone (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

So if it's conceded that repeat business was unlikely due to the genre and location of the restaurant, then how could the increased initial influx of cash due to advanced publicity have been a negative? If nobody was going to go twice anyhow, then wasn't it a blessing that people who may never have gone at all did pay a visit, and did so during the crucial first six months?

I just can't visualize the financial model in which increased initial interest is a negative, especially in a business where cash-in-hand is everything. What other industry would this ever apply to? If a movie is not well received, it will make the majority of its take during the first two weekends before negative word of mouth spreads, based almost solely on effective advertising. If everyone was so very aware of Tailor's PR campaign, then obviously it was a success. More diners equals more cash-in-hand, period. Is the implication that without any advanced PR, more people would have made their way to Tailor on their own time, and somehow spent more, returned more often, etc? I really just don't get it.

EDIT: Anything Frank Bruni says is also positive publicity. There is a proven increase in business following a Times review, negative or positive. We live in a city with 25,000 restaurants; awareness is everything. It is the lack of a Times review that is a death sentence for a fine dining restaurant.

Edited by Sethro (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

So if it's conceded that repeat business was unlikely due to the genre and location of the restaurant, then how could the increased initial influx of cash due to advanced publicity have been a negative? If nobody was going to go twice anyhow, then wasn't it a blessing that people who may never have gone at all did pay a visit, and did so during the crucial first six months?

I would concede neither of those, and the point about being on an "empty block" in "the middle of nowhere" is particularly ill-informed. Tailor was meant to be a destination restaurantthe kind of place that would attract most of its clients from outside the neighborhood. Once you've decided to hop in a taxi or a subway train to Soho, whether you go to this block or two blocks away is fairly close to irrelevant. (The location of Wylie Dufresne's first restaurant, 71 Clinton, was much more obscure at the time; it didn't matter. Plenty of places have actually made a mint by being difficult to find: La Esquina, PDT, Freemans, etc.).

The statement that it wasn't going to get repeat business...I just don't know where that comes from.

I just can't visualize the financial model in which increased initial interest is a negative, especially in a business where cash-in-hand is everything. What other industry would this ever apply to? If a movie is not well received, it will make the majority of its take during the first two weekends before negative word of mouth spreads, based almost solely on effective advertising. If everyone was so very aware of Tailor's PR campaign, then obviously it was a success.

It is a success, only to the extent it turns awareness into customers. What Nathan and I are saying is that Mason made himself look foolish. It wasn't the sort of thing that necessarily translates to boat-loads of customers.

EDIT: Anything Frank Bruni says is also positive publicity. There is a proven increase in business following a Times review, negative or positive. We live in a city with 25,000 restaurants; awareness is everything. It is the lack of a Times review that is a death sentence for a fine dining restaurant.

On the other hand, if that were all there was to it, then restaurants wouldn't care whether the review is good or bad, and we know this is not the case.

Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course that's not all there is to it, but it is true that a bad review is better than no review. I don't have any facts and figures on hand to back that up, its just the understanding that I've gleamed from working in the industry.

I'd just like to have it presented to me in brass tacs, how the pre-opening PR translated into poorer revenues.

Not trying to be argumentative, I just don't understand how increased awareness translates into less customers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the problem was that it wasn't the type of place that was going to get a lot of repeat business and it was in the middle of nowhere. The block was empty. There aren't many people who are going to head out for that kind of cooking on a regular basis. (I've never been to WD50, but I don't know that it's food is quite as outlandish as Tailor's.)

Actually, some would say that WD-50's food is more outlandish than Tailor's was. It certainly isn't less so by any measurable margin. As for the other examples a few posts up (Aldea and Jean Georges), they hardly qualify as this type of cuisine. While Aldea is certainly somewhat modernized compared to its inspirations, it doesn't really aspire to any "molecular" or really experimental techniques, nor are the combinations comparable. And including Jean Georges in the category is an even more major stretch. The fact is that WD-50 is the only successful restaurant in this genre, and it's not clear that its success will sustain it for years into the future. NY just hasn't shown any love for the genre for whatever reasons.

In the case of Tailor, I think the thing that most separated it from WD-50 is that it was much trendier than WD-50, and much of the initial press could be perceived as being aimed at the hipster set rather than exclusively at food enthusiasts. WD-50's core supporters are definitely foodies more than trendies, while Tailor wasn't so clearly defined.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

So if it's conceded that repeat business was unlikely due to the genre and location of the restaurant, then how could the increased initial influx of cash due to advanced publicity have been a negative? If nobody was going to go twice anyhow, then wasn't it a blessing that people who may never have gone at all did pay a visit, and did so during the crucial first six months?

I just can't visualize the financial model in which increased initial interest is a negative, especially in a business where cash-in-hand is everything. What other industry would this ever apply to? If a movie is not well received, it will make the majority of its take during the first two weekends before negative word of mouth spreads, based almost solely on effective advertising. If everyone was so very aware of Tailor's PR campaign, then obviously it was a success. More diners equals more cash-in-hand, period. Is the implication that without any advanced PR, more people would have made their way to Tailor on their own time, and somehow spent more, returned more often, etc? I really just don't get it.

EDIT: Anything Frank Bruni says is also positive publicity. There is a proven increase in business following a Times review, negative or positive. We live in a city with 25,000 restaurants; awareness is everything. It is the lack of a Times review that is a death sentence for a fine dining restaurant.

That's mostly true, but I think there are exceptions, as noted in my post above. When a restaurant is perceived as being too trendy, and as a spot where people go to be seen rather than to eat "serious" food, then the restaurant's reputation and image as a serious eating destination can be harmed. Even if the food coming out of the kitchen is interesting, skillfully prepared and thought-provoking, the place can still fail if it is seen as a "fluff" destination. So while Tailor may have had an initial influx of cash from the publicity-driven crush, it is possible that the publicity and the resultant crowd actually hurt it in the long run. (This same theory is seen in more obvious ways in nightlife, where the latest trendy lounge may be packed for 6 months due to publicity, but doors close a few months later when the next latest/greatest thing opens. Meanwhile, serious fans of good cocktails probably don't bother with the place, and go to other places that open with less fanfare but more perceived sophistication. Those may last longer despite thinner crowds to start.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd just like to have it presented to me in brass tacs, how the pre-opening PR translated into poorer revenues.

Obviously none of us have access to Tailor's books, so we can only write about how it appeared from the outside.

Let us suppose that the pre-opening PR was a mild plus: that for everyone who said, “This guy is a fool,” there is someone else who said, “OK, I admit, I’m curious.” It was nevertheless a missed opportunity to generate more curious people, and fewer who thought he was a fool.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's mostly true, but I think there are exceptions, as noted in my post above. When a restaurant is perceived as being too trendy, and as a spot where people go to be seen rather than to eat "serious" food, then the restaurant's reputation and image as a serious eating destination can be harmed. Even if the food coming out of the kitchen is interesting, skillfully prepared and thought-provoking, the place can still fail if it is seen as a "fluff" destination. So while Tailor may have had an initial influx of cash from the publicity-driven crush, it is possible that the publicity and the resultant crowd actually hurt it in the long run. (This same theory is seen in more obvious ways in nightlife, where the latest trendy lounge may be packed for 6 months due to publicity, but doors close a few months later when the next latest/greatest thing opens. Meanwhile, serious fans of good cocktails probably don't bother with the place, and go to other places that open with less fanfare but more perceived sophistication. Those may last longer despite thinner crowds to start.)

OK, now I understand the point a little bit better. I still think that if that did play a role in the demise, it had to be a small one compared to what I perceive to be the obvious factors.

1) Most* NYers who can afford to be repeat customers at that price range are an older, stuffier set with very boring expectations.

2) A restaurant with two dining rooms needs to be able to sell PDR, and thats all but impossible when the food is not extremely simple and safe.

*Relax, if you're reading this I probably don't mean you.

Edited by Sethro (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

That's mostly true, but I think there are exceptions, as noted in my post above. When a restaurant is perceived as being too trendy, and as a spot where people go to be seen rather than to eat "serious" food, then the restaurant's reputation and image as a serious eating destination can be harmed. Even if the food coming out of the kitchen is interesting, skillfully prepared and thought-provoking, the place can still fail if it is seen as a "fluff" destination. So while Tailor may have had an initial influx of cash from the publicity-driven crush, it is possible that the publicity and the resultant crowd actually hurt it in the long run. (This same theory is seen in more obvious ways in nightlife, where the latest trendy lounge may be packed for 6 months due to publicity, but doors close a few months later when the next latest/greatest thing opens. Meanwhile, serious fans of good cocktails probably don't bother with the place, and go to other places that open with less fanfare but more perceived sophistication. Those may last longer despite thinner crowds to start.)

OK, now I understand the point a little bit better. I still think that if that did play a role in the demise, it had to be a small one compared to what I perceive to be the obvious factors.

1) Most* NYers who can afford to be repeat customers at that price range are an older, stuffier set with very boring expectations.

2) A restaurant with two dining rooms needs to be able to sell PDR, and thats all but impossible when the food is not extremely simple and safe.

*Relax, if you're reading this I probably don't mean you.

Excuse my noobishness, but what is PDR? (Other than the Physician's Desk Reference.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Excuse my noobishness, but what is PDR? (Other than the Physician's Desk Reference.)

Private Dining Room, i.e., for parties, which are more lucrative than filling the same number of seats with regular diners.

Oh, duh. Thanks:) Wasn't aware of a second (private) dining room at Tailor...only the main dining room and the bar area.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

You know I've said this before and I'll say it again even though I seem to be in the minority, what if Tailor failed because the food just wasn't that good? I am a huge fan of the "Molecular Gastronomy" movement and have enjoyed WD-50 on several occasions as well as Alinea being my favorite restaurant I've been to, but while I found the descriptions of the menu items interesting and exciting the food I received was very bland. I remember in particular, the Miso-Butterscotch Pork Belly being exactly like any other pork belly that I've had in New York with no discernible hint of the promised butterscotch. Maybe I went on an off-night, but based on my experience I could hazard a guess that at least some people were excited by the menu, went to the restaurant, and discovered that the food did not live up to the description. Once again, it seems that I am in the minority on this, but that is my take on the restaurant.

Edited by Ochowie (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd have to say that was either the result an off-night on the restaurant's part, or a strange palate on the eater's part.

I had the miso-butterscotch 3 times and it was hugely flavorful on every occasion. That and the passion fruit char were dishes that anyone should have found new, exciting and delicious. So in summation, I don't get it.

Kudos to Eater for picking up on "TAILOR MADE BAD FOOD" out of all the insightful and interesting stuff in this thread.

Edited by Sethro (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

<<Kudos to Eater for picking up on "TAILOR MADE BAD FOOD" out of all the insightful and interesting stuff in this thread. <<

They are hovering for news, it's becoming ridiculous what is going on with that site. The big white elephant in the room starts to smell I guess .....

Link to post
Share on other sites

can I vote for "strange palate on eaters part"?

RE: The eater blurb: That's seems to be what an Ochowie is going for, isn't it?

" Please, I know I can't be wrong about this!I love Alinea ! I've already posted this opinon several times. Please agree with me."

Tailor is gone, save all the haterade for the next place.

2317/5000

Link to post
Share on other sites

can I vote for "strange palate on eaters part"?

RE: The eater blurb: That's seems to be what an Ochowie is going for, isn't it?

" Please, I know I can't be wrong about this!I love Alinea ! I've already posted this opinon several times. Please agree with me."

Tailor is gone, save all the haterade for the next place.

I wasn't going for an eater blurb at all and in fact wish they hadn't used that. I was simply floating the idea that the restaurant wasn't successful because of delays or overpublicity, but because people who ate their didn't like the food. The comment about Alinea was related to the fact that people kept saying that this type of restaurant was too adventurous for New York diners and I tried to qualify that by saying that I enjoy that specific style of cuisine. There is no reason to attack me personally based on my opinion which is just as valid as yours about why it closed. Ultimately the reason for closure is that they couldn't fill the restaurant with enough people to pay their bills. Given that it's just as likely that a lot of people didn't like the food as the other opinions in this thread.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is unfair.

I liked Tailor a lot. But I know a lot of people (whose opinions are otherwise trustworthy) who didn't like it at all. To act as if Ochowie's dislike of his meal there had to be the result of some fault in his palate or some strange one-off kitchen failure is simply closed-minded.

If EVERBODY liked Tailor as much as I and most others in this thread did, then it would still be open. Let's not forget that. And please let's cut off the groupthink and permit contrary opinions. Please.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If EVERBODY liked Tailor as much as I and most others in this thread did, then it would still be open. Let's not forget that. And please let's cut off the groupthink and permit contrary opinions. Please.

Family Guy got cancelled, but it turned out there was so much demand for it that it was re-signed to a five season deal. Firefly got cancelled, and the demand for it became so high that it was green-lit for a major motion picture. Sometimes really, really good and popular things get 86'd for no good reason.

And not only on FOX.

Edited by Sethro (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...