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"The Restaurant" Reality Show Season 2


Gustatorian
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At one point in the episode, Chodorow mentioned that he had spent US$4 million starting the restaurant.  If that's true, and assuming (this is a wild guess) that he can resell the property for $3 million, that means that by the time he stormtrooped into the place, he was out $1,600,000.  Frankly, I was rooting for him.  If that had been my investment capital, I would have been up Rocco's ass about six weeks into the operation.

As the controller of a small, but very busy cash generating restaurant, I think I have a bit of insight into how the numbers work. Mr. Chowderhead might be a bit too busy himself for the daily report, but undoubtedly someone in that organization or in the Briefcase Brigade of accountants that seem to always be at his heels was in charge of the daily cash position of the restaurant. The invoices don't enter themselves into the accounting program and the checks don't get generated as if by magic. SOMEONE has that job. Whether it's an entry level bookkeeper who answers to one of the Briefcase Brigade, or a CPA who's only job is to oversee that restaurant out of Chowderow's stable of investments, SOMEONE has been asleep at the wheel if it's this out of hand. If no one is approving the purchase of sterling flatware for a place that serves food in cardboard, well, I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for either side's whining and moaning at this late date. What happens when the numerous monthly and quarterly tax payments come due? Who's making sure that the credit card portion of the sales are accurately making their way into the bank account? Who's making sure the payroll is getting reviewed and the employer taxes are getting paid? Who's making sure the credit card portion of the waiter's tips is transferred to the payroll account so if the restaurant were to close tomorrow they wouldn't get sued for not paying those monies to the waitstaff? Who's making sure the cash sales minus any paid outs are equalling the cash deposits and that money isn't simply disappearing along the way? :hmmm:

It isn't about being up the chef's ass, it's about sound fiscal management and oversight. Chowderow has owned enough restaurants for enough years to know better than to let shit get this out of hand (if indeed it is as out of hand as it's being described and isn't just for the camera's benefit) before "stormtrooping" the place. And if he did let it get this out of hand then he has no one to blame but himself.

And Rocco is just an ass. He's reaping what he sowed by entering into this Faustian deal in the first place. I hope he thinks it's worth what was once a stellar reputation. Now he's just a punch line. He earned it.

Really good post, Katie. And by the way, Lizzie Okin says hello. :biggrin:

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I agree with KatieLoeb. Chowdorow was caught with his pants down. In the show he mentions how he just left Rocco alone to do his own thing for a while...

Well, when you leave people alone with piles of your cash, sometimes bad things happen.

The show is full of villains and assholes, but I still say the intern, Drew, is a tool...

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If you told me before season 1 of "The Restaurant" that in 2004, the talented Rocco DiSpirito of Union Pacific would become the laughingstock of New York and Donald Trump would become the new golden boy of television... I would have said you were unhinged... Rocco makes New York look sleazy and The Donald makes it look sexy.

This whole reality show thing is... :wacko:

Chodorow compared Rocco's 22nd to another of his restaurants -- China Grill. I have dined at CG on numerous occasions, and I like it a lot. To urban sophisticate New Yorkers it's one of those Yogi Berra places -- "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded." But for me and the folks I bring there it's delish and fun. There is no doubt in my mind that Rocco's was just as busy as CG. But reading some of the actual lawsuit and from what was gleaned from the show, the expenses at Rocco's were probably astronomically higher. Hmmm... How come I am speaking about Rocco's in the past tense....

As he did at Mix, I think Mr. C would have pulled the plug on Rocco's except he knew he had another season of prime-time tv on-air publicity--this time for himself. Remember it was announced at the end of the last season that there would be a season 2. Ka-ching. I agree with others who said that after he milks what he can from the hype, the doors at Rocco's will darken and morph into something else.

Someone mentioned Rocco's generosity -- giving Lola, the bartender, a Vespa. He never did. The Vespas were on loan and he had to give them back when shooting was over. After her initial ride she never got to ride it again. How's that for generosity?

As for the Star Wars references... O.K. you can call Chodorow Darth Vader... But Rocco is no Luke Skywalker... With his swagger, tunnel vision and helplessness.... Rocco is C-3PO.

Edited by TrishCT (log)
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Really good post, Katie. And by the way, Lizzie Okin says hello. :biggrin:

Thanks mags :smile: ! It just really grills my cheese to see these "successful" people whining and moaning about losing so much money when it was all in their control in the first place. That is, until they let it out of their sight and grasp. Which was entirely preventable. Meanwhile, I toil away in obscurity keeping the ship afloat (or the cabin cruiser, by comparison), day in and day out with no big fat salary, no TV show about me, no celebrity status, etc. and the jackasses with the really big bucks sit around and watch their millions get pissed away on idiotic purchases and no cost control whatsoever. Mind boggling. I think Chodorow needs to hire me to whip those worthless accountants into shape. I'd move to New York if he'd pay me enough to live there in the style to which I'm accustomed. :biggrin:

Thanks for the howdy too. I'll call and say my hellos in person!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Considering The Restaurant is a Mark Burnett show, how's this for synergy....on the second season of The Apprentice one of the tasks will be to figure out how to improve revenues at Rocco's.

Brilliant!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Considering The Restaurant is a Mark Burnett show, how's this for synergy....on the second season of The Apprentice one of the tasks will be to figure out how to improve revenues at Rocco's.

Building on that - on the Apprentice second season, Chodorow's intern should definitely go up against The Donald.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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Quick question for those in the know.

There seems to be a lot of personal antipathy towards Chowderow on the board. The show doesn't portray him in a flattering light, but I tend to see his point of view.

Is the hatred/disdain expressed towards Chowderow because he really is an ass, or is it a general dislike of the money-men and their interference in how a chef wants to run a restaurant?

I don't know him but,

I thought it was really distasteful to be looking at the P&L sheets in the restaurant itself, not to mention having this corporate chef guy in there too.

The whole lot of them were so, Rumsfeld like in their cynicism.

The only person in that crew that seemed to be decent was the woman who was trying to tame intern boy.

We all know this has been edited to highlight conflict and drama but that scene happened.

It seems that these guys ( Rocco and Jeffery) should have been discussing how to make this place stop losing so much money earlier then six months into it.

When I was involved in a New York Opening, within two months the chef was getting heavily pressured on food and labor cost's, and in month three it had been for the most part corrected.

I suppose the change's going on at Ducasse's 'MIX', another Chodorow joint venture, lead me to distrust him.

2317/5000

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Quick question for those in the know.

There seems to be a lot of personal antipathy towards Chowderow on the board. The show doesn't portray him in a flattering light, but I tend to see his point of view.

Is the hatred/disdain expressed towards Chowderow because he really is an ass, or is it a general dislike of the money-men and their interference in how a chef wants to run a restaurant?

It may not be all of it, but go to the bottom of the page linked here (click me).

Of course Rocco isn't much liked here either, I think, and that article dares to call him "likable", which seems like bullcrap to me.

Chodorow has 20 filings in Dade county?

Rocco may be an ass, but this guy is, crap...

2317/5000

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I have a hard time not siding with Chodorow after watching the show.

Same here. Kinda sad isn't it.

Its sad, if you consider how a truly talented and hard worklng chef like Doug Psaltis at Mix serving high end, high quality and technically complicated food got totally and undeservedly and prematurely shafted by Chodorow while Rocco was permitted for months upon months to be completely incompentent, a non participant at his own restaurant and lose mountains of money with a far more touristy place serving glorified pizza parlor food that was expected to be a huge profit center, yes.

Roccos should have been closed/repurposed and Dispirito should have been thrown out on his ass after the first 3 months. With Mix and Psaltis, Chodorow erroneously committed infanticide on a restaurant that was arguably just starting to be one of the most innovative and best new high-end restaurants in the entire city, if not the whole country. Now we will never know what potential that could have been reached.

I totally agree with you on the MIX matter.

It's hard to swallow that Ducasse would let this guy screw up his concept so early, makes me wonder how much money Mix was losing a month.

And can't you see Chodorow just not understanding how this red sauce joint could be losing when supposedly China Grill grossed 7 mil it's first year?

2317/5000

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OTOH, Chodorow seemed almost boastful about it. Perhaps he knew full well about the mounting losses and chose to not intervene in the hopes of leveraging what he considered to be Rocco's inevitable failure

So rather than giving him enough rope to hang himself with, he lets him buy the biggest and most expensive chef's knife available with which to commit ritual seppuku. Nice.

I agree with Trish about JC letting Rocco fail after season 2 is over. Just as chefs can have large egos, so can restaurateurs. Perhaps he's of the belief that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Perhaps he just wants folks to recognize his name for a change, as opposed to the name of any of the chef's whose paychecks he signs. For the average consumer (as opposed to an eGulletarian), the name of the restaurateur is often an afterthought. In fact, many average consumers don't even know the names of the chef at any given restaurant, they just know the place has a lot of buzz, good reviews, is hard to get reservations at, is expensive, etc. :shock: I realize this is unthinkable to those of us who need to know the chef's name, reputation, resume, and mother's maiden name before we'd even consider setting foot in the door, but it is sadly the truth for many folks sitting at the next table.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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What did Chef Tony do to Rocco to deserve such humiliating treatment? Petulant, egotistic, juvenile, abusive. That's our Rocco.

Tony is very nice person. Rocco wasn't very nice to him for all of Tony's loyalty. Rocco treated him horribly.

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This whole travesty can be spelled out in two words.

"BULL SHIT"

There was in professional estimates considerable less then $2,000.000.00 Dollars in Cash actually ever invested into the "Rocco's" operation. I'm pretty sure that was the total amount originally mentioned regarding the investment.

The $4,000,000.00 Investment is part of the entertainment provides for those Gullible to believe that there are actually $600,000.00 in Operation losses incurred since they began doing business. I'm even skeptical about the business cards costing the price quoted. Even kickbacks are that blatant.

The easy part to a professional negotiator, observer was picking up the "TIC"S" in almost all the participants during this performance of the travesty of a restaurant.

This rendition has hit the bottom of the barrel for reality television. I was somewhat bemused watching the first 6 shows, but the series has started off being nothing but irresponsible and annoying without anything endearing. I will predict that this 6 showings won't be comparable in the rating's as the initial performances.

The only amusing thing to watch is how badly the actors/restaurant employees try to act credible, while being filmed on camera. In the orient being two faced is not considered appropriate, but everyone at "Rocco's" is acting multi faced. Even the best performers aren't capable of pulling that off.

Am I the only viewer who has seen through all this GARBAGE ?

I'm amazed that the Director with his ability to cut, manipulate and edit couldn't find any way to put anything amusing, funny or human interest into this opening show. There wasn't any positive hooks or connections with anyone this segment.

Well that's my opinion, I feel that the whole hour was not entertaining.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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'See my enormous ego here'...a picture of Rocco (my blog).

Rocco is insane, the show is crazy, mama knows nothing, poor mama, so much drama! Poor Antonio cooking in the kitchen and not speaking English, what is a fullatore? I know...do you? I know why they're losing money, Rocco's ego is getting in the way of payroll. Just cuz the place is packed everynight, doesn't make it profitable, Duh, look at your food cost! I didn't go to cooking school just to cook, I learned a thing or to about running a restaurant.

Edited by Seattlegirlychef (log)

Chef by trade, writer at heart.

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I feel sorry for Mama... although I've heard that Chodorow is paying the rent on her apartment...

DiSpirito has said that she isn't on the payroll, but Chodorow claims that in addition to paying her rent she also receives a salary.

Edited by carp (log)
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New York Magazine on Rocco vs. Chodorow.

Just read this article...

This quote from the article is completely indicative of why the people in the restaurant business think poorly of RocD:

" Is there something wrong with selling out?” asks DiSpirito. “Every chef is looking to cash in on his brand and notoriety. I don’t have a brand like Martha, but negative press certainly affects it. Sure, we got letters saying ‘You were so mean on the show.’ It bothers me. I want to be loved just like everybody else, but people should judge my products on their merits and not figure out what is right for me. Put me next to any chef, any time, and I’LL BE BETTER THAN THEM. I can cook."

This is the arrogance that has lost him the respect in our community.

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It isn't about being up the chef's ass, it's about sound fiscal management and oversight

If by "Chef" you mean that guy Tony, and how Rocco jumped all over him I'd agree. But if you mean Rocco the Rockhead when you say "Chef", he's VERY responsible for management and oversight--he PUT himself in that spot through an insistence that Chowderhead stay at arm's length (this may not be apparent in this edition but I think it was made clear in the last one--Rockhead gave Chowderhead a huge "go away" vibe, and frankly Chowderhead's biggest mistake, as Jason has mentioned, was listening). Rocco was apparently making business decisions, or at the very least had designated his own people to do so.

OTOH, Chodorow seemed almost boastful about it. Perhaps he knew full well about the mounting losses and chose to not intervene in the hopes of leveraging what he considered to be Rocco's inevitable failure.

Even with the NBC subsidy, that would be one very expensive form of revenge... so I kind of doubt it. I think he deluded himself that the media exposure would turn things around more than it did.

Chodorow and DiSpirito DO deserve each other though. Our favorite Chowderhead is not the nice man he wants the cameras to show him as, just as much as Rocco isn't the charmer he wants us to see him as. Chodorow is technically in the right here, but he's a shark and even if that seems justified in this case it hasn't always been with him.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Thanks to all on filling in some info on Chodorow.

Upon further review, I agree that it was very classless to discuss the joint's finances in earshot of employees. BAD.

Will be interested to learn more about how much money decision-making power was left to Rocco and how that affected Chodorow decision to wait 6 months to lower the boom.

Of course, being the paranoid person I am, I'm willing to lay fair odds that Chodorow waited in order to guarantee that season 2 would have good ratings. To steal someone else's idea, I bet Rocco's is open as long as the series continues and closes for the last episode of the last season.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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I feel sorry for Mama... although I've heard that Chodorow is paying the rent on her apartment...

DiSpirito has said that she isn't on the payroll, but Chodorow claims that in addition to paying her rent she also receives a salary.

Did anybody else notice that when Rocco and Chodorow went up to "mama's" apartment for the big off camera meeting, that the inside looked like it just had a pile of boxes and a mattress on the floor? Exactly what kind of housing is Chodorow providing? And, Rocco didn't just hit the scene last week, so sureley this isn't his first paycheque. Why would he have his own mother beholden to his investor for shelter?

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I feel sorry for Mama... although I've heard that Chodorow is paying the rent on her apartment...

DiSpirito has said that she isn't on the payroll, but Chodorow claims that in addition to paying her rent she also receives a salary.

Did anybody else notice that when Rocco and Chodorow went up to "mama's" apartment for the big off camera meeting, that the inside looked like it just had a pile of boxes and a mattress on the floor? Exactly what kind of housing is Chodorow providing? And, Rocco didn't just hit the scene last week, so sureley this isn't his first paycheque. Why would he have his own mother beholden to his investor for shelter?

From what I understand (and I could be wrong here) having the apartment was part of the deal in getting the space for the restaurant. Since they had no other use for it, it became "mama's apartment" ... simply so she could have an easy place to get away. She still has a house on Long Island. So her "apartment" serves as a place for her to rest, as well as additional office space for the restaurant.

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Just saw the show and I gotta say I have a hard time finding ANYTHING realistic. Katie was on the mark about the finances. However, it's just not plausible that anyone with half a brain -- and Chodorow is a bright guy -- would let his business sink $600k into the hole before saying anything. With all the editing and "acting", who the heck knows what's for real. It is not an easy task to lose that kind of money in one year, especially for a business generating large revenues. I also find it hard to believe that the business would be so out of control that no one notices such things like business cards costing $1.80 each. (I'd love to see that business card.)

And that 17-year-od "apprentice"?? What the heck is that all about?

In my dumb opinion, I think the show is accomplishing what it set out to -- to be controversial and generate chatter such as on this list. Rocco and Chodorow are laughing all the way to the bank while we smugly mock them. And you can bet your life I'll be tuned in to every show this season ;-)

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This whole travesty can be spelled out in two words.

"BULL SHIT"

However, there is a real lawsuit out there...

I agree with you and see through it also. This shouldn't be a television show...but it is.

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I think the show is accomplishing what it set out to -- to be controversial and generate chatter such as on this list. Rocco and Chodorow are laughing all the way to the bank while we smugly mock them.

Hmm...I don't think either man is THAT good an actor.

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Considering The Restaurant is a Mark Burnett show, how's this for synergy....on the second season of The Apprentice one of the tasks will be to figure out how to improve revenues at Rocco's.

Building on that - on the Apprentice second season, Chodorow's intern should definitely go up against The Donald.

:wink:

The intern'd last about ten minutes. I dislike Trump's pretensions, and I'd never work for him -- but he appears to have a decently discerning eye for phonies and excuse-makers in his operations, and he appears to weed them out pretty rapidly the minute they get anywhere near his bottom line.

:cool:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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