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End of a Cincinnati Era - Maisonette closes


MichaelB
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I'm sure that it's a very sad day for locals and regulars alike. Although, it appears that The Maisonette will re-open in some form very soon.

From the article linked above:

The Maisonette, a fine dining institution in downtown Cincinnati since 1931, closed today.

But the five-star restaurant still plans to re-open in a new Sycamore Township location in late 2006, owner Nat Comisar said.

“We’re closed,” Comisar said this morning in the restaurant’s lobby. “Our intention was to keep it open through the transition, but with cash-flow pressures, and delays from those cash-flow pressures, our investors just said they’d prefer not to fund it.”

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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It's just moving from Downtown Cininnati to the Mason/Sycamore area (still a suburb of Cincinnati) which is booming & where people with money have moved to. Nobody wants to come to downtown Cincinnati anymore & it affects the businesses. We were hoping they'd come across the river to us. Donwtown is losing business to Newport on the Levy & Nat was deciding where to move, between our side of the river & Sycamore township.

Rock is dead. Long live paper & scissors!
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It's still closed for at least a year and a half. Anyone want to look up the re-opening statistic on restaurants that are out of business for that long?

I, for one, do hope that the new location comes about as planned. I would have had a lot more confidence had it been iopen until a move.

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It's still closed for at least a year and a half.  Anyone want to look up the re-opening statistic on restaurants that are out of business for that long?

I, for one, do hope that the new location comes about as planned.  I would have had a lot more confidence had it been iopen until a move.

Yes, 1.5 years is a looong time (more than a lifetime, in some cases) in the restaurant world.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Nobody wants to come to downtown Cincinnati anymore & it affects the businesses.

This is not intended to be a personal attack at you. I hear this all the time.

/RANT ON

I am really tired to hearing this. Nobody wants to come downtown

except:

The tens of thousands who work there every day, including those at the headquarters of the 6 (or 7) Fortune 500 companies located downtown (out of 11 Greater Cincinnati).

The 25,000 on average who make it to each of the 81 Reds games played at home each year.

The 75,000 who make it to each of the 10 Bengals home games each year.

The 400,000 or so who attend the annual Labor Day fireworks.

The 200,000 who attend each of Octoberfest and Taste of Cincinnati.

The people who stay in the couple of thousand downtown hotel rooms available each night.

The people who attend the Symphony, Opera, Ballet and the Braodway series, not to mention the hundreds of art and music events that take place each year at Music Hall, the Aronoff Center, the Taft Theatre and the Arena.

The people who visit the two major museums located downtown plus the two other major museums located less than a mile outside downtown.

It reminds me of the famous line attributed to Yogi Berra -- Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded.

/RANT OFF

The fact is that a restaurant like the Maisonette needs to serve perhaps 40,000 meals a YEAR to have good year. That's anywhere from 1.5 times to 10% of the people who attend some of the single day events downtown I identified.

Tell me people no longer want the kind of dining experience that the Maisonette represents (or, perhaps more accurately, that they think it represents) and we can have a sprited and lengthy discussion of the whys and wherefores. Don't tell me that people won't come downtown and spend their good money for a product that they want -- because that is patently false.

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Read about it here:

Mobil 5 Star Maisonette Closes Doors

Lots of memories there; sad day.

Wow. I'd heard it was going to happen. I can't believe it! The last normal meal my husband and I ate together -- our fifth wedding anniversary -- was at the Maisonette and I can still remember every mouthful. (I'm a native and used to write for the magazine, back when George Haidon was the Chef ...) Dean Fearing worked there. And so many chefs I've met over the years still speak fondly of Pierre Adrian (and those amazing spuds he used to do, which I've had at dbBistro every time we go there).

I haven't lived in Cincinnati for years and years. but it's still my hometown. I really do need to look at this forum once in a while.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I'm a bit of an outsider in this forum, but thought I could add something. My wife is from Cinci and we've made a few trips there in the past few years. A good friend of hers is a major player in the downtown business scene and implied a heightened commitment to pumping up downtown. The last time we were there, we checked out the new modern art museum, had drinks at Bella, and dinner at that Steakhouse, Jeff(?) Ruby's. After dinner, we did more bar-hopping at places who'se names I forget. At any rate, everywhere we went was quite busy.

If the revitalization of downtown Cinci is anything like what's going on here in Durham, NC, it's often driven by a somewhat younger and more progressive demographic. Perhaps that's not what fills up Maisonette. It is entirely likely that their clientelle have fled for the burbs, thus inspiring them to do the same.

Here's another take: The new breed of people looking to spend top dollar on food are trending towards more innovative places. I'm treading lightly here because I don't know enough about Maisonette to know how old school it is. When I was a kid, I bussed tables at what had been the top dog in my town for decades. However, during my time there, business continued to fall off until they eventually closed. Why? Because their client base was literally dying off and the next generation of diners was not looking for bow-ties, velvet, and old-school french. Again, this may or may not be the case here. That is for someone more informed than I to say.

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Expanded coverage from the morning paper today:

Cincinnati Enquirer Story plus links to related stories

From the story linked above:

The Maisonette, a dining institution in downtown Cincinnati since 1949, closed Monday, and prospects for reopening in Sycamore Township next year remain uncertain.

A white sheet of paper taped to the door heralded the closing of the region's only five-star restaurant, and shocked employees were told in an emotional morning meeting. Six of the employees had worked there for more than 30 years.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Wow.  I'd heard it was going to happen.  I can't believe it!  The last normal meal my husband and I ate together -- our fifth wedding anniversary -- was at the Maisonette and I can still remember every mouthful.  (I'm a native and used to write for the magazine, back when George Haidon was the Chef ...)  Dean Fearing worked there.  And so many chefs I've met over the years still speak fondly of Pierre Adrian (and those amazing spuds he used to do, which I've had at dbBistro every time we go there).

I haven't lived in Cincinnati for years and years. but it's still my hometown. I really do need to look at this forum once in a while.

My first visit was during the Haidon era. Adrian's two daughters operate a small restaurant and catering operation in the suburbs called La Petite Pierre. I have every reason to understand that their father was as class an act as they are. I have had the opportunity to peruse the scrapbook they have of clippings and articles involving their father and the Maisonette. I was particularly struck by the photo showing all 8 Mobil 5 star from one particular year that included three chefs from Cincinnati.

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I can't help but wonder if the reopening of the old Pigalle's on 4th Street with a former Maisonette chef as owner (name???-can't think this early in the a.m.) doesn't have something to do with the closing. It's doing very well. I'm sure Jeff Ruby's place is also a factor.

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I can't help but wonder if the reopening of the old Pigalle's on 4th Street with a former Maisonette chef as owner (name???-can't think this early in the a.m.)  doesn't have something to do with the closing.  It's doing very well.  I'm sure Jeff Ruby's place is also a factor.

You are thinking of Jean-Robert at Pigalls.

I think the factors that lead to Maisonette's closing are too numerous and complex to cover in a reasonably lengthed post. But clearly the addition of popular fine dining options is a factor. I believe that Jeff Ruby's draws a large number of the "power" business dinners -- "let's celebrate with a big steak!" -- that Maisonette had an exclusive on for many years.

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My first visit was during the Haidon era.  Adrian's two daughters operate a small restaurant and catering operation in the suburbs called La Petite Pierre.  I have every reason to understand that their father was as class an act as they are.  I have had the opportunity to peruse the scrapbook they have of clippings and articles involving their father and the Maisonette.  I was particularly struck by the photo showing all 8 Mobil 5 star from one particular year that included three chefs from Cincinnati.

I can remember when Suzanne Adrian was cooking at The National Exemplar -- doing lots of cutting-edge wrapped-leaf fish. (Our neighbors and friends owned the place, and we went often.) That was a lifetime ago. I did a school-related thing at the Aspen F&W last year, and most every chef I met, who learned that my hometown was Cincinnati, mentioned Chef Adrian.

When I was writing for Cincinnati Magazine, there were more 4-star restaurants per capita in Cincinnati, than any place in the country, except San Francisco. So many years later, I still remember the walnut oil on Kentucky bibb lettuce, the salmon with lobster mousse in puff pastry (bastardized into "salmon wellington" all over the place, now), and the Gateau St. Honore, served by the tiniest woman I'd ever seen. (We had our first kid less than a year later, and started the first of many relocations immediately after that. But still, I remember.)

Fabby

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I can remember when Suzanne Adrian was cooking at The National Exemplar -- doing lots of cutting-edge wrapped-leaf fish. 

When I was writing for Cincinnati Magazine, . . . .

Fabby

And in the what goes around category, the new issue of Cincy Mag arrived Tuesday.

The reviewed restaurant? La Petite Pierre. Sorry, on line access not available.

Michael

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The first time I drove cross-country was in the Spring of 1974 and I had a 1973 Camaro. One of the best meals during the excursion was dinner at Maisonette. It was memorable and had a great wine list.

It's hard to believe more than 30 years have passed.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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According to one of our local news stations, it appears as though there are money problems as well. Evidently the staff hasn't been paid in a while & they don't know if they even will be paid.

Rock is dead. Long live paper & scissors!
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And in the what goes around category, the new issue of Cincy Mag arrived Tuesday.

The reviewed restaurant?  La Petite Pierre.  Sorry, on line access not available.

At least tell me: is it a good one? Who reviewed?
The first time I drove cross-country was in the Spring of 1974 and I had a 1973 Camaro. One of the best meals during the excursion was dinner at Maisonette. It was memorable and had a great wine list.
My Camaro was a '78, but I couldn't afford Maisonette until 1987 ... I was always bothered by people saying it was a snobby place, and that the staff treated customers poorly. Sure, they insisted on jackets for the men, but I saw many people wander in off the street without them, and the maitre d' always was kind and discreet about getting jackets. Now, the saleswomen at Gidding's ... that's what I called snooty!
According to one of our local news stations, it appears as though there are money problems as well. Evidently the staff hasn't been paid in a while & they don't know if they even will be paid.
Oh, dear. That makes me so sad! I'm sure some of them have worked for the Comisars forever.
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I used to work with an ex-wife of a Comisar - I'm sure she's having a field day with this.

I just had absolutely no idea things had gotten this bad for the family. I truly hope they are able to recover & move to Sycamore Township as planned. It was reported that the creditors have been calling asking for their money & now the staff's union may become one of their creditors.

Rock is dead. Long live paper & scissors!
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And in the what goes around category, the new issue of Cincy Mag arrived Tuesday.

The reviewed restaurant?  La Petite Pierre.  Sorry, on line access not available.

At least tell me: is it a good one? Who reviewed?
According to one of our local news stations, it appears as though there are money problems as well. Evidently the staff hasn't been paid in a while & they don't know if they even will be paid.
Oh, dear. That makes me so sad! I'm sure some of them have worked for the Comisars forever.

The ususal -- Dawn Simonds. The sub head is "La Petite Pierre has grand ideas about fine dining." That tell you enough?

Many of the Maisonette employees were there for more than 20 years. I think there were 3 or 4 left with more than 30 years experience. The story referred to above is at:

Money Problems

We'll hear more soon I am sure.

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The ususal -- Dawn Simonds.  The sub head is "La Petite Pierre has grand ideas about fine dining."  That tell you enough?

MichaelB, what's the connection between Maisonette and La Petit Pierre? (not from cincinnati - just curious).

With about 70 employees at $60 each cycle, the debt added up to about $21,000 since the end of winter.

Some of the employees said Comisar told them he could make the final payroll, but they would have to wait in line for the rest -- like everyone else on his list of creditors, London reported.

Comisar wouldn’t elaborate, but those close to him insist he kept things going as long as he could.

"We'll be meeting with our attorney this week to discuss what suit or suit options we have in recovering the workers' money," said Terry Hacker, union representative.

A spokesman for Scott Street Partners said Maisonette remains a key part of the Sycamore Square project, but employees still feel betrayed.

"Based on conversations I've had with employees, (it appears that) they were pretty callous about it," said Dennis Hyden, union representative. "It's like, you know, 'See your union. Good luck.'"

Wow, that sucks. Lots of startup restaurants fail in the first year, but it's sad to see a long-established place go under.

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  • 1 month later...

This is very sad news.

From the Cincinnati Post article linked above by aengus9:

Just months after staging a press conference announcing plans to relocate to Kenwood, the owner of the five-star Maisonette restaurant said he has no plans to reopen in Kenwood or anywhere else.

"It's the end of the Maisonette," Nat Comisar said Thursday.

Comisar had abruptly closed the longtime Sixth Street downtown location in July, still planning at that time to reopen it in a new development in Kenwood.

Instead, the contents of the once-exclusive restaurant will be auctioned off.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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