Kentucky Derby Week is hell on restaurant crews.
“Derby week was the most hellacious experience I’ve ever seen,” Saltzman said. “So we closed for two days to do a reset, a reassessment of how we should improve the way we run this business.”
Saltzman endured the combo blessing-curse of seeing Quattro swamped with business Derby eve and Derby night. So swamped that customers were four deep around the restaurant’s massive bar, its patio was jammed and Saltzman’s wife recruited to ferry drinks to outside tables.
“I already work a 50- to 60-hour week with my regular job at Pallas, but last week I was working until 3 in the morning,” he said. “I absolutely have more respect for the people who make it look easy.”
Normally closed on Sunday, Saltzman and his team took one look at its depleted inventory and frayed nerves and decided not to reopen until Wednesday.
“This Derby was the first real battle to test us and tell us what we could be,” he began. “When you go into a war like that, you find out who can stand up and who crumbles.”
Translation: A come to Jesus meeting with his staff is on the agenda, and a new plan of operations will result.
“We were out of about everything, so we said, ‘Why just order more food and keep moving the way we were moving and only compound the problem?’” Saltzman said. The kitchen is doing a new menu rollout this week, he added, and Mondays and Tuesdays typically are slow days anyway. “I’d rather close it, reset it, get the inventory straight and take the opportunity to discuss what’s happening here. Then we can reopen for dinner with proper expectations.”
• Bad Meat threatens to spoil Blind Pig’s liquor license: It appears that trouble at Meat, the avant garde cocktail bar in Butchertown, might render a meltdown at The Blind Pig, the restaurant atop which Meat sits.
According to a blog on EaterLouisville.com, Meat has operated in violation of liquor law standards since it is a second floor bar, which is only permissible in hotels, restaurants and certain nightclubs.
In addition, that meant Meat was kinda-sorta leaning on the liquor license of the landlord downstairs, which is The Blind Pig.
Nay-nay, says the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Worse, it’s also saying The Blind Pig wasn’t blind at all to what was going on and now it’s moved to revoke or suspend its liquor license.
The relationship between the two businesses could see Blind Pig cleaving its relationship with Meat. Losing one neat nightspot in Butchertown is already a shame, but losing both in one “fool” swoop would be doubly bad. Read the whole blog to see the truly dyspeptic details.
• Martini No. 2 headed for Dutchmans Lane: Finally, a good story! Martini Italian Bistro, owned by Jim Davis, is setting up shop in a second location at 6201 Dutchmans Lane, originally home to Oldenburg Brewery and then to Ernesto’s.
Davis isn’t returning phone calls or texts to talk about the new restaurant, which means he’s focused on the task at hand and not acknowledging hacks like us. Who can blame him, right?
This restaurant business is hard stuff. (See opening paragraph as your paradigm of despair.)
But even though Jim’s ignoring us, we’re still excited a truly nice guy like him is growing his business. A few of his key employees are long-term folks, which says a lot, and he’s a gracious host when we’re in the restaurant.
Some wonder if Davis can break the dubious jinx on the property. When it was Oldenburg, it might have done well were it not for the disgraceful monetary mismanagement by then operating partner Richard Reeves. (Reeves also performed a similar book-cooking demo at Tumbleweed that wounded the company several years ago. Those who know him say he’s been on the move around the country ever since.)
What happened at Ernesto’s? We’re not sure. Lack of business in a large, pricey space could have been the problem. Commonly is.
• We’ve got Lynn’s for sale … Lynn’s for sale: Sing it with us, Talking Heads fans, you know the tune.
Anyway, we don’t have a bunch of facts we can share on what’s going on at Lynn’s Paradise Café, but we have it from multiple sources that Lynn Winter and a buying group are discussing a sale of the property and its crazy-kitschy contents.
Whether that includes the business as it is, as it was or as it might have been had Winter kept it open while trying to sell it — which surely would have increased its value — we don’t know. We’re only being told discussions are underway and, for the love of Pete, quit calling!
LPC’s website does have an email link for intersted buyers, and some homepage text about Winter reads:
She’s scouring the universe for the perfect next owner of Lynn’s who will not only carry on its legacy but also make it more awesomer!
So, we suppose that tells you something.