Tuesday, September 29, 2015

With Business Lagging, The Angry Chef Turns Sentimental?

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.   

16 comments:

SB said...

I want nothing but the best for The Family Dog and Rosebud as a neighbor who walks to them multiple times a month.

AJ said...

I've eaten at Rosebud a handful of times and for the most part enjoyed it. The last time I was there, was the first time for my fiance'. He has Celiac's and is thus GF. We wanted to sub a side dish that had gluten for something that didn't. The waiter assumed it would be OK and checked with the kitchen. He said they could do it, but would have to charge. Mind you, he was not getting both sides. He was subbing a pasta for a potato (or something like that). We said "fine" as we didn't really have a choice. When we got the bill, a soft drink was not on it. I think the waiter purposefully took it off because of the up-charge for the side dish change. While I appreciated the waiter doing this, it's little things like that that leave a bad taste in people's mouths. I used to go out of my way to go to Rosebud. Not anymore. Other restaurants are willing to accommodate, why should I go to a place that doesn't want to? While I don't wish any establishment to go out of business (they just won't get my business), if any of Eyester's restaurants close, it won't be surprising. The "Angry Chef" persona may be for laughs (or maybe it's serious), but good customer service must always come first.

Anonymous said...

I was not a fan of the angry chef persona but did enjoy the food at Rosebud. I think Ron saw success and tried to capitalize on it but ultimately took on wayyyy too much. I believe its difficult for chefs to have multiple restaurants. People come for the food that THEY cook, not some guy stepping while the chef is running between 4 different venues. And I know that Ron is not personally cooking each dish...but I guarantee you that there is more quality control going on when he is in the kitchen.

Our last experience at Rosebud was brunch this past Sunday when we all looked at the food that came out and questioned what was going. Multiple menu items were not available (baby shrimp were subbed with crawfish, beef shortrib was subbed with 3 sad slivers of skirt steak) and portions were much smaller than they used to be (yet still at the same price point). The food was just not up to par and we all questioned what kind of struggles were going on behind the scenes (I guess this letter answers that question).

I do hope Ron can figure it out. I miss the old Rosebud...

nsk said...

Cantankerous, pugnacious personality. Lousy food. Iffy service. I wonder if a competent restaurateur who ever take over the spaces.

Anonymous said...

I love how you pretend to take the high road and then a few paragraphs later come in with comparing him to a love-sick ex.

Zack said...

Why do you feel the need to point out the gender of a female reader? You've never done that for you male readers or people who send you comments or emails.

Anonymous said...

Maybe because she has received such a letter from a drunken ex?

Anonymous said...

I have never eaten at either of the restaurants (though I have wanted to) because their are no vegetarian entrees listed on the menu. Though most customers are not vegetarian, most do have a vegetarian friend/family member so groups tend to go to a restaurant that accommodates all members of the group. Combined with the celiac story above, I would say that Eyester is more concerned with his "artistic vision" of the menu rather than the practicalities of serving a diverse customer base. At dinner time, that diverse customer base has many options to go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I tried to take a large group (30+) to Rosebud one time. Some of these restaurants hear large party and they immediately want to charge you like it is a wedding party. The person on the phone was so unaccommodating, it was an immediate turn off and I passed. I am not surprised to see restaurants like this in trouble. If you trace the problem with these businesses, it always goes back to the top. Somebody needs to wake up and smell what he is cooking...

Anonymous said...

In 2015, there are too many other restaurant and bar options in more interesting parts of town that offer better food and better customer service. Ron Eyester just needs to go away.

Anonymous said...

You guys are some serious whiners.

- Ron

Anonymous said...

The Angry Chef persona is done, like most successful social media personas, with crafted humor, but it isn't a joke. And I say that as someone who appreciates it. I think it's brilliant.

That said, as a former employee.. None of this is new news, and I've heard the story in that letter awhile back. The drunken ex is a good analogy. Then imagine responding with empathy, and getting a "whatever, F* you" response.

He's like that and it's been coming.

Anonymous said...

It's always been all wrong.

The "Angry Chef?" You're in a service business, dumbass, and "angry" and "service" don't go together. I don't want an angry drycleaners, or an angry bank teller, and I sure as hell don't want an angry chef. Letting this label stick to you...not so smart. But maybe in your next career you can be the Careless Truck Driver or the Dumb High School Teacher.

I don't want an inconsistent chef either which, if we were in a particularly truthy mood, would be a much more accurate name. I've never had anything better than a B+ at his places, and I've had far, far worse. Anybody try Diner yet? Anybody read the reviews?

And I still remember the time he sent out a picture, surreptitiously taken by him, of one of his female customer's ass cracks (she came in with pants that rode a bit too low). Classy chef? Naw....

Three strikes, and a bit of overexpansion, and you're out...

Anonymous said...

The 'Angry Chef' has done a good job of ruining his business by insulting customers and serving mediocre at best food. I complained about a dish a few years ago and was told to go eat elsewhere. And I stayed away for at least four years. Recently after having attending a wine tasting across the street I had a slip in judgement and walked into Rosebud for a meal.
The green beans on the plate had no flavor and were inedible. My wish is for new tenants that serve decent food and respect there customers.

Anonymous said...

As of 6pm today, still closed (sign on the door said they'd reopen 10/6). I wish they'd just give some sort of an idea what's going on.

Anonymous said...

None of the negative bloggers have a clue how hard it is to run a profitable business that employees dozens of people because they have never done it themselves or else they wouldn't post this stuff. They work for someone else. Ron put is neck out there. You should be THANKING HIM and admiring his efforts. Truth is, Family Dog are GREAT for Morningside and Atlanta in general.

Ron, keep plowing. The neighborhood needs you!