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Alex

1913 Room in Grand Rapids to close in April

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Full story here.

Landing a prestigious, internationally known name is a coup for the city but also the end of an era that lent a rare bit of prestige to Grand Rapids.

...

While The 1913 Room has been profitable for the hotel, it is not as popular with the hotel’s guests as it is with locals, Tomaselli said. More than 70 percent of its business comes from non-hotel guests.

Ruth’s Chris also will give the hotel a chance to project a more contemporary, more casual image than The 1913 Room, which at one time required men to wear jackets and still does not permit denim in the main dining room.

It also provides a known name to convention planners as they weigh whether or not to bring meetings to the city.

I can sort of understand the reasoning, but still, a chain is a chain, even if it's a cut or five above Applebee's. Not to mention we already have several steak houses (and other places to get a good steak) in the downtown area.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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This just sucks. Another blow to unique and fine dining in Michigan. I see the reasoning for this move as just the inability to properly promote and market to the convention planners.


Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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Yes, that is indeed too bad. I ate at the 1913 Room a year ago, and it was a uniquely upscale experience. The food was excellent and creative, and the service was absolutely top notch, although a bit overly structured.

Perhaps one of the problems with the restaurant in attracting hotel guests is that it's competing with Cygnus 27 in the same hotel, and people chose the latter because it's less formal and less expensive (especially in this economy). Regardless, changing to a chain steakhouse reduces the diversity and quality in the city's culinary scene.

Fortunately, not every hotel in town has made that move. six one six over at the new JW downtown is a simply wonderful, one-of-a-kind restaurant serving creative contemporary American cuisine.


Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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This may relate to a larger thought and that is whether restaurants in hotels have their own following, especially in secondary and tertiary markets. There is seemingly an aversion for many that when selecting a restaurant one does not generally go to a restaurant domiciled in a hotel. While there are many fine examples (and the 1913 Room has always been excellent), many believe they are run for overnight guest convenience and since the hotels have major kitchen investments for the banquet/wedding/room service business this is a way to further amortize expenses and increase kitchen use. This is somewhat like McDonalds...by finding breakfast menu items they increased operator returns by extending hours for their kitchens that sat idle during the time block. The hotels need revenue to pay their mortgage and taxes, whether their own restaurant is open or the space is leased to a chain-it becomes a matter of return and yield.


"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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What's ironic is that the situation with the 1913 Room is the reverse of the traditional business model, and it appears we have now come full circle.

For a long time, it seems that hotel restaurants considered their hotel guests a "captive audience" and were able to pull in enough business from them with mediocre food and service, even when they were shunned by locals as JBailey describes. But fairly recently - in the past 10-20 years - some hotels have realized that they could do more business and become more profitable by providing a sufficiently high level of quality to bring in a substantial local customer base. Nowadays some of the finest restaurants around are located in hotels - not only six one six in the JW in Grand Rapids, but such restaurants as Avenues, NoMI, Seasons, and David Burke's in Chicago. Now we have an example of a restaurant that has brought in plenty of business from locals, but is suffering due to inadequate patronage by hotel guests. How ironic!

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