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New Yannick Cam Restaurant


Mark Sommelier
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If true, probably a smart move. That far out in the burbs is a killer. There have been nights I wanted that ridiculously bargain-priced 3 course + a glass of wine in the bar at Le Relais but just couldn't stomach the drive or the traffic. And I live in Arlington.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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It's killer if you're in D. C. If you live in Fairfax it's a real plus. Interesting that he wants to go back downtown since Friday and Saturday night have become difficult reservations there. I should also note here this "far out" and "killer" location is about two miles frrom L'Auberge Chez Francois which is one of the most difficult tables to reserve in the entire area-and has been for over fifteen years. Yannick is a big fish in Great Falls; downtown he's got some serious competition. My guess is that he believes he's capable of matching up to anyone and wants to return to the center stage again. I know that the owner of Le Relais shares the same ambitions. Together, this is a real plus for D. C. Michel could use some competition.

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One of the differences between the city and the suburbs is that in the city you have more access to mid-week big-spending (especially on wine) deal makers who want to keep their clients happy. I suspect that a place that is full of this type of customer Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights is a lot more lucrative than one that is filled with special occasion diners on the weekends. If you can successfully cater to both markets, which I believe Michel Richard does, you've got the makings of a great operation.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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Obviously you haven't been to Maestro or, say, the Capitol Grille on a weeknight. Also, try calling L'Auberge on a Tuesday or Wednesday and asking if you can get a reservation for the same night. I believe there is more recognition on a national scale downtown but in Northern Virginia, for a top flight restaurant, there is just as much business. In the right location I AM CONVINCED THERE IS MORE, MUCH MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR A TOP FLIGHT RESTAURANT IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA. Clyde's in Reston does a higher dollar volume than the Ebbitt Grill, by the way.

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Obviously you haven't been to Maestro or, say, the Capitol Grille on a weeknight.

The former yes; the latter, no. Just last Thursday a friend of mine went to Maestro on I believe one, or possibly two days notice. I'll check with him and confirm. I don't think you can do that on a weekend night, can you?

I AM CONVINCED THERE IS MORE, MUCH MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR A TOP FLIGHT RESTAURANT IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Well then hopefully Yannick is reading, and will change his plans before it's too late.

Clyde's in Reston does a higher dollar volume than the Ebbitt Grill, by the way.

We're not really talking top flight here, are we?

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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I AM CONVINCED THERE IS MORE, MUCH MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR A TOP FLIGHT RESTAURANT IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA. 

Joe;

If you've got a space and about 3 million (make it four because I'm guessing we both have big wine habits) bucks, then we should talk.

Auberge has made it because they made it a long time ago. I would not count them in any competitive analysis. Maestro has shown that there is a market for ultra-luxe dining, but remember they have a big hotel subsidising them. I doubt very much they would make enough money to satisfy any investor. Not a knock on the place, but jewel box restaurants are not big money makers. And is there room for a second? Because of that subsidy, I would not count them in a competitive analysis. 2941 from what I understand isn't doing gangbusters, although I could be wrong. I understand that would be a tiny step down from what you are envisioning, but past them what is left? At this point in my career, it's something I think about a lot. Lots of my friends are in the same boat, and we all agree on one thing...there's just too much unknown out there.

It would be a hard sell to any investor. I just don't see another free-standing non-steak house, fine dining place in NOVA. I wish and hope I'm wrong.

Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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2941 has one of the worst locations that I can imagine. I posted on Chowhound a year ago that I thought it would not make it because of the location. There's 50 million square feet of office space in Tyson's Corner, Reston and Herndon along with a household income in Western Fairfax County over $100,000. There are national chains including outposts of every steakhouse known to man along with more middling restaurants that I can count. Le Relais has a terrible location and until Yannick arrived I doubt that it would have made it. It's not convenient to any of the office buildings noted above-strictly a destination location. It's also buried in a nondescript shopping center.

Reston Town Center while exhorbitantly expensive is also ground zero. I know that Kinkead looked here but couldn't cut a deal and Morton's moved in, which I personally thought was a poor move from management. Penang, another semi chain outpost, opens in Town Center in a couple of months just in time to compliment others like Big Bowl, McCormick and Schmick's, Clyde's, Paolo's, Rio Grande, Uno's, etc. Other than the restaurant in the Hyatt there is not a "non chain" restaurant out of the 10 or 12 that comprise Town Center. Still, I know that on Monday and Tuesday nights most of these restaurants have their dining rooms at least 3/4 full. I know this because I walk 25 to 30 miles a week and walk by them frequently (twice a week or more) at 9 and 10 at night. I haven't said a word about Friday or Saturday.

I believe that if the trio that owns Ceiba/DC Coast/Ten Penh had opened in Town Center instead of 13th and G, it would be a smashing success. At 13th and G they have serious competition from Zaytinya and Cafe Atlantico among others. In Reston Town Center their style would be a winner. I also believe that Kinkead should have paid the extra and opened at Town Center rather than buried back in the building he's in.

Old Town Herndon, in my opinion, would be an excellent location at reasonable rent, for a chef/owned and managed white table cloth restaurant. Current competition includes Zefferelli's, Sylvano's and the Russia House, all three of which have been there for over a decade. I am not talking about another Maestro. My real enthusiasm would be for a Jaleo, Zaytinya, Cafe Atlantico, Ceiba.

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To continue, I believe that something like 2941 which I believe is several big steps below Maestro is probably the model for what I would think would work along with the Jaleo type I mentioned above. If it's Old Town Herndon then price is going to be a factor, something with entrees in the 22 and under range. Town Center (if something was available) would support a higher end I believe. (I am convinced that Kinkead's would have been a big success.) The weakness of the Market Street Grill is the absence of any real kind of ambience plus it's considered "the hotel restaurant" locally. There are 600 condos currently coming on the market along with another residential high rise under construction, all within one block of Town Center. Two more larger office buildings are on the drawing board along with a JW Marriott. It's one of these I would look at along with Herndon's Old Town. I actually am not convinced that there is room left in Tyson's for something like this. I really favor Reston and Old Town Herndon. The obvious problem is finding a location that opens up and justifying what would be exhorbitant rent if it's Town Center. But there will be something in a year or two when construction goes ahead on the next buildings. I would just take a serious look at them. One last thought: I mentioned a high rise under construction one block from Town Center. There's a second high rise adjacent to Town Center selling condos where ground has not yet been broken. If one of these had visible space available I believe they would be good opportunities also. But not buried in the back-there must be frontage.

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Joe; Thanks for the second response. Cleared up a lot.

It seems a lot of your thoughts are you wishing for new places to eat. No one is going to question your dining passion. Bottom line is, private places will lose out to chains when negotiating a lease almost every time. An uneducated guess, that's probably why 2941 and Le Relais are where they are. Not a slight to either place, of course. If a landlord spends 100 million on a high rise place in Herndon or wherever, he or she is going want a quick return. Or at least some return. Private restaurants probably won't be able to match a lease of say an Uno's. Chains have a boatload of capital to fall back on if things go south for a little while. Private restaurants would have to fold.

And say I go out there with my bulletproof business plan, everything is in line, and then my estimated buildout is $150/square foot. I'm pretty sure that Uno's (for example) buildout would be much lower. If you were in the landlords shoes, would you take the chance on a private place or the chain? Would you want to be stuck with the hanging clouds that have lightning in them? Or the stupid piece of $100,000 furniture that the prima donna chef had to have? Chains bring cash flow. Chains appeal to everybody except discerning diners, which as far as I am concerned is not the majority of the Reston/Herndon area. This is not a slight to e-gullet types living there, but I need as an owner more than 150 Joe H's.

You bring up a few models here. 2941 we are using as a primary model. I can't see that succeeding farther away from DC than Tyson's. I see the Jaleo/Zaytinya concept being hugely successful anywhere Jose and the crew decide to take it. But as far as a white tablecloth, chef owned place, if you took a chance with the menu and made it interesting to the people on these boards, I see it failing. To appeal to enough people, I see a dumbing down of the menu just to stay afloat, and then you alienate the Joe H's while not establishing a good relationship with the average diner of the Herndon/Reston area.

At the end of the day, I just don't see it. See you at Maestro soon.

Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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Joe,

Now I understand what you are talking about. The Jaleo-2941 range is, as you say, something different than the Maestro-Citronelle range that Yannick appears to be shooting for. I agree with John W. If I was putting money into a food and wine driven $3 million place, it would have to be in the city.

As for Kinkead's Colvin Run location, the landlord's pitch had to be, "Look, we've got Tiffany, Loius Vuitton, Gucci, etc. You won't find a more concentrated population of ideal customers anywhere between 5th Avenue and Buckhead." The only problem is that plenty of them eat interesting food and drink $400 Bordeaux in the city on the corporate card or their favorite attorney, pharmacutical rep, IT sales rep, or lobbyist. When they go out with their spouse and two teenagers, they may be just as happy with Legal Seafood or the Cheesecake Factory. Or if they do go higher end, they still don't spend in quite the same way.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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You bring up a few models here. 2941 we are using as a primary model. I can't see that succeeding farther away from DC than Tyson's. I see the Jaleo/Zaytinya concept being hugely successful anywhere Jose and the crew decide to take it. But as far as a white tablecloth, chef owned place, if you took a chance with the menu and made it interesting to the people on these boards, I see it failing.

We sure wish someone would take the chance here in Rockville. There are two "New Urban" developments of 500K (and up) homes, with large office suites, condos, and apartments, being built within 2 miles of our neighborhood here in Rockville. One, King Farm, has three new restaurants. None of them is a chain, but none is really fine dining either. Fallsgrove, the other development, has filled their shopping/dining area with Panera, Chipotle, Mamma Lucia's, and a few other sit down and fast food chains. What a missed opportunity.

Almost the only option in Rockville close to fine dining, that is not a chain, is Addie's, which has the same owner as Black's in Bethesda. It does very good business despite an out of the way location.

Of course, with the most asinine liquor laws in the country, fine dining in Montgomery County may be a pipe dream. :angry:

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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As for Kinkead's Colvin Run location, the landlord's pitch had to be, "Look, we've got Tiffany, Loius Vuitton, Gucci, etc.  You won't find a more concentrated population of ideal customers anywhere between 5th Avenue and Buckhead."

Another part of that equation might have a pre-exisiting restaurant. Some red sauce Italian place I think?

A hell of a lot cheaper to renovate than to start from scratch.

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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You bring up a few models here. 2941 we are using as a primary model. I can't see that succeeding farther away from DC than Tyson's. I see the Jaleo/Zaytinya concept being hugely successful anywhere Jose and the crew decide to take it. But as far as a white tablecloth, chef owned place, if you took a chance with the menu and made it interesting to the people on these boards, I see it failing.

We sure wish someone would take the chance here in Rockville. There are two "New Urban" developments of 500K (and up) homes, with large office suites, condos, and apartments, being built within 2 miles of our neighborhood here in Rockville. One, King Farm, has three new restaurants. None of them is a chain, but none is really fine dining either. Fallsgrove, the other development, has filled their shopping/dining area with Panera, Chipotle, Mamma Lucia's, and a few other sit down and fast food chains. What a missed opportunity.

Almost the only option in Rockville close to fine dining, that is not a chain, is Addie's, which has the same owner as Black's in Bethesda. It does very good business despite an out of the way location.

Of course, with the most asinine liquor laws in the country, fine dining in Montgomery County may be a pipe dream. :angry:

For a short time 12 years ago, I owned a restaurant in Montgomery County. I can tell you first hand that "Monkey County" is the most ridiculous, archaic, anti-business,bloated, frustrating, greedy, tax happy jurisdiction in the country. It is no mistake that there are no really great restaurants there.

Mark

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For a short time 12 years ago, I owned a restaurant in Montgomery County. I can tell you first hand that "Monkey County" is the most ridiculous, archaic, anti-business,bloated, frustrating, greedy, tax happy jurisdiction in the country. It is no mistake that there are no really great restaurants there.

You would think with a median income of $82K (higher if you don't include the Eastern half, I'm certain) that they would be alittle more supportive. Instead, anyone who wants fine dining has to drive into the District to spend their money. Stupid, and not even counting the revenue they're losing from those of us who are buying our wine and spirits elsewhere too.

Edit: And I must agree with your "tax-happy" assessment.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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For a short time 12 years ago, I owned a restaurant in Montgomery County. I can tell you first hand that "Monkey County" is the most ridiculous, archaic, anti-business,bloated, frustrating, greedy, tax happy jurisdiction in the country. It is no mistake that there are no really great restaurants there.

You would think with a median income of $82K (higher if you don't include the Eastern half, I'm certain) that they would be alittle more supportive. Instead, anyone who wants fine dining has to drive into the District to spend their money. Stupid, and not even counting the revenue they're losing from those of us who are buying our wine and spirits elsewhere too.

Edit: And I must agree with your "tax-happy" assessment.

When I was a business owner, it seemed as if every other day a new license, fee, tax or surcharge would arrive in the mail from the county. Dealing with the ABC Board was a nightmare. Would you believe those idiots only deliver once a week? They only deliver full cases ( who needs a whole case of Grand Marnier?) No emergency orders are considered. A "special order" (wine not stocked by the county) of something as inocuous as Sonoma Cutrer has 30% added to its wholesale cost to cover the trouble of making ONE PHONE CALL. Residents of Montgomery County are penalized for their good taste. Its no wonder Paul's on Wisconsin Avenue in the District does such huge business.

Mark

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I know this conversation has taken a turn, but I work in Reston Town Center and I find the food selection to be lacking at best. Besides a few places that are fun for happy hour or dessert, there isn't anywhere that I would actually *choose* to dine at in comparison to other options.

I could understand better if it catered purely to the lunchtime office crowd where sandwhich/chain style places would make sense - But I also live right down the street and the place is almost always hopping.

A few independant restaurants would be wonderful.

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Residents of Montgomery County are penalized for their good taste. Its no wonder Paul's on Wisconsin Avenue in the District does such huge business.

Mark; I live in Virginia (also ABC stores, and ridiculously high prices), and the best bargains I've found on spirits and wine are at Calvert Woodley on Connecticut Ave (link). A typical example: for the 1.5L Jack Black, those foolish or unfortunate enough to buy in VA pay around $45 ($38+/- if it's on sale) plus 4.5% sales tax. At CW, it's about $26 plus 9% sales tax, and I know damned well that the VA ABC stores buy in at least the same volumes as CW, so quantity discounts can't be the issue here. CW are particularly good on "young" wines, like the new 2001 Spanish wines that Michael Franz raved about recently in the Post. Does Paul's have better prices/selection than CW?

THW

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Residents of Montgomery County are penalized for their good taste. Its no wonder Paul's on Wisconsin Avenue in the District does such huge business.

Mark; I live in Virginia (also ABC stores, and ridiculously high prices), and the best bargains I've found on spirits and wine are at Calvert Woodley on Connecticut Ave (link). A typical example: for the 1.5L Jack Black, those foolish or unfortunate enough to buy in VA pay around $45 ($38+/- if it's on sale) plus 4.5% sales tax. At CW, it's about $26 plus 9% sales tax, and I know damned well that the VA ABC stores buy in at least the same volumes as CW, so quantity discounts can't be the issue here. CW are particularly good on "young" wines, like the new 2001 Spanish wines that Michael Franz raved about recently in the Post. Does Paul's have better prices/selection than CW?

THW

Alfred,

CW is a bigger store than Paul's. Paul is 5 blocks from the border of the county and the District. Paul's has very competitive prices. Also, there is a reason the Post Food section comes out on Wednesday. It gives all the liquor stores time to buy all the wines Michael Franz/Ben Giliberti recommend for the weekend.

Mark

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Total has some incredible wine prices on selected wines when combined with coupons. For example Estancia cab is $10.49 and Chateau Ste Michelle merlot is $11.49. Two weeks ago in the Post there was a coupon for $50 off with $300 purchased. That's $1.79 off of the Estancia and $1.92 off of the Chateau Ste. Michelle. $8.70 and $9.57 respectively are probably close to the wholesaler's cost for wines that retail in the $16 to 18 range. While I frequently shop at C/W (and Chevy Chase, too) the 9.5% D. C. sales tax also makes a difference. For "basics" I believe Total when they do these once a year coupons is probably as good as there is in America.

They expire this weekend by the way.

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Total has some incredible wine prices on selected wines when combined with coupons....  For "basics" I believe Total when they do these once a year coupons is probably as good as there is in America.

They expire this weekend by the way.

Joe; thanks for the heads up. I wasn't aware of Total's coupons. When/where do these coupons come out? Sounds like a good deal if you're buying by the case (which I frequently do).

THW

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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I've also heard that Yannick may be coming into the city. 

Rocks.

Yes, I'm eager to go to a restaurant that has a large a la carte menu that is largely not available and 30 very expensive specials a night. The de rigeur 2 hour wait for main courses is another attractive addition. :raz:

Mark

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