Trouble in Morningside?
A number of readers have contacted me regarding rumors of Ron Eyester's restaurants (The Family Dog, Rosebud and Diner) each being in trouble. The Family Dog and Rosebud allegedly lost their liquor license while Diner, open since March, apparently had yet to obtain theirs. This past July, Eyster's restaurant group, Grateful Tables, shuttered its Timone's eatery... for a second time.
It's no secret I don't think much of Eyester or his restaurants following one of the worst restaurant experiences of my life at The Family Dog. Eyester and I famously got into a "twitter war" in early 2013 when it was announced that he was opening Diner at Atlantic Station. The spat was chronicled by Creative Loafing.
Among Eyester's more notable tweets were ones in which he questions my qualifications:
"What qualifies u to warn people about the pitfalls of possible restaurant ventures? #DoTell"
And another where he calls me out for typing my observations:
"Easy to put up a fight behind the keyboard in your parent's basement."
Earlier today, Eyester penned a rather heartfelt message, distributed to his email list and posted on his restaurants' facebook pages, detailing the state of his restaurants. One female reader who contacted me about the post likened it to "a drunken plea letter someone sends to an ex."
"I remember standing in the middle of North Highland Avenue on a late January night in 2005 just staring in amazement at the newly renovated Food 101. It was bitter cold, and I remember laughing at how quite unimpressive our exterior sign was in comparison to the lavish build-out the interior had just received. In fact, I also remember how after years of sheer neglect the wisteria had literally overtaken the circus-like tent that used to cover the patio. I remember in the weeks that followed, some folks just freaking out about us removing that wisteria. It took some time to get adjusted to Morningside...And to this day we still haven't quite figured out that patio.
During those days, I was just the chef and a sweat equity partner (a lot of sweat); but I had a foot in the door and I formed a connection to this space that has never been rivaled by another restaurant space in which I've set foot. For the next decade it would be a thrill to unlock the front doors each morning of this iconic restaurant space (did you know that Indigo and Partners used to be here); I've always been especially grateful for the mornings in which I was greeted with the rich aromas of a simmering chicken stock. Fast forward about 4 years, some good, some not so good; I find myself ready for the next steps of a budding restaurateur, and take on a more significant piece of ownership. Although a trying process, with the guidance of my former 101 partners/mentors and the faithful investment of a local neighbor; my creativity and passion blossomed further and ultimately Rosebud was brought to life. Most of you know the rest of the tale, The Family Dog bursts onto the scene in 2010 (damn, what's in that mason jar drink), Morningside has it's own bar and people laugh about how often I'm seen crossing the street. The long strange trip continues and then comes Titanic Pizza...I mean Timone's Pizza.
Now for the current chapter.
The intention of this letter is not to venture down memory lane, nor is it an attempt to evoke sympathy. I really just wanted to take some time to reach out to everyone and let you know what indeed is going on, because I am more than the aware of many of the rumors circulating. In this day and age, we're all accustomed to giving and receiving information almost instantaneously and I think we've always done a great job at staying engaged with you all and I really believe that our willingness and ability to share information with you all removed a certain barrier that might exist between guests and the help in an ordinary setting. We have truly cultivated a unique and genuine environment here on North Highland Avenue, and no matter what our fate, we'll always be grateful for that.
It's no secret we're struggling...we ended biting off more than we can chew. We ended up encountering some scenarios that we obviously could not have and did not forecast. After all, who the fuck closes the same restaurant twice...This guy! And who likes discussing matters of this nature anyway. Well, it's time to share some details. What once was a haven of consistency and stability is now somewhat a tumultuous road of uncertainty and sometimes, unpleasant surprises. And while we have endured more than you can imagine, we have suffered a series of consequences. Nonetheless, it's our current state of reality and we are dealing with it, everyday. What's the final outcome going to be? I wish I knew...But no matter what transpires, I am making every plausible effort to preserve what we have established and maintained for many years now. I thank you for the continued support and vibrant sense of community that we have all helped create over the years. And I thank my entire staff, both past and present...none of the success that we have enjoyed could have ever been imagined without your tireless efforts to bring my ideas to life...Thank you!" -Ron Eyester
What are your thoughts on Ron Eyester and the state of his restaurants? Did he do too much, too soon? Did you find his twitter persona that at times called out guests' personal appearance and openly griped about patrons, offputting?
Please share your thoughts below.