Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wolfgang Puck Making a Quick Getaway, More To Follow?

Wolfgang Puck Express which opened at Selig Enterprises' Brookwood Place in August 2003 will be closing its doors as of this Saturday September 12. After delays in opening as a result of its location next to Spa Sydell, it finally opened to much fanfare with Wolfgang Puck himself in the restaurant for the the grand opening. That same month, Emeril Lagasse opened Emeril's Atlanta in One Alliance Center in the heart of Buckhead but was panned by critics and local media and closed last April. Sorry to say it but Celebrity chefs have not and will continue to have limited success in our fair city. BLT Steak by Laurent Tourondel at the W Downtown is a prime example of the new crop of celebrity chef's foray into the Atlanta market with marginal results. Having dined their, we can say with the utmost of certainty, its not nearly the "it" spot that its sibling restaurants in NYC are and not nearly as popular or as talked about. Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant and Spice Market and Market by chef Jean-George Vongerichten are novelty additions to an already crowed restaurant landscape. We here at Repeat Atlanta are far more fond of local establishments than chain and celebrity endorsed and or operations establishments that have flooded the city in recent years. On a positive note, local restaurateurs Nan and Charlie Niyomkul of Nan Thai Fine Dining and Tamarind Seed are progressing on their new eatery "Vertigo" in the old Taurus space next door to Wolfgang Puck Express. Said to feature traditional Thai barbecue, the restaurant is said to be on schedule to open in late November. Repeat Atlanta!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought Wolfgang's place was a decent lunch spot and always seemed fairly busy... Oh well

Jonathan said...

I'm not so much concerned about the closing of Wolfgang Puck Express as I am curious about Atlanta's restaurant market as a whole.

What does it say when cities like Minneapolis, Dallas, and Charlotte can support Wolfgang Puck restaurants compared to Atlanta which couldn't support a Wolfgang Puck Express. I know it was there for 6 years, but still. His other locations aren't closing.

Does it mean we are just spread to thin with too many dining spots per capita? Or is it indicative that we have an overstated reputation of a big, metropolitan city with money when in reality we're a bit on the spendthrift side, sticking to a few favorites without giving the new folks a chance?

Having just been to California, I noticed that every restaurant (and there were a TON of them) was packed.

I also tend to think that restauranteurs have a propensity to overestimate Atlanta and therefore undermarket their product. This city is not going to go somewhere just to see and be seen.

Anonymous said...

I would venture that ATL has a much greater dependence on out of town visitors than say Chicago, Dallas, and the greater part of California. (Charlotte may just not have many alternatives).

The drop in high spending convetion traffic has certainly pushed it's share of ATL restaurants over the edge - be they celiebrity chef, or locally run.

Of course in Emeril's case, his unwillingness(inability?) to correct what were clearly some major kitchen execution issues lead to the early demise of that restaurant.

- SalMonela

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, "we" didn't support Wolfgang Express because it sucked. It royally sucked. I'd rather eat a Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.

Anonymous said...

I think it has something to do with the terrible labor market here. Hard to find good service staff that actually practice good service without attitude. Case in point - Cheesecake Bistro in atlantic station. Worst service I've ever seen in a restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Certainly not the best pizza in Atlanta, but certainly was convient to us Brookwood residents. We loved just sitting at the bar, watching our little individual pies being made. Hopefully the Tamarind group will take over Taurus upstairs. Chef Gary Mennie is sorely missed. That space has one of the most fantastic balconies, giving great views of the city. Drinks we always wonderful.

George said...

We were so excited when Puck opened! We went on a Saturday afternoon; sat at the bar to watch the show.

A side of mac&cheese I'd ordered arrived cold in the center. I told the server, who replaced it with one that was . . . cold in the center, so I asked for a hot one and received a repalcement that was . . . cold in the center.

As our spirits flagged we watched the pizza makers for entertainment. Watched one drop a pizza paddle on the floor, pick it up, look at it, wipe a bit of detrious off with his hand, lift a clean(?) one from the rack, hang the dirty one, and rehang the first one in front of it. So we placed bets how long it would take before someone used it. (3 pizza orders later.)

And that was enough entertainment for us.

In future, when friend or business associate suggested Puck it was always easy to suggest an alternative.