Monday, March 13, 2017

The Luminary Fails to Inspire, Confirms Closure at Krog Street Market

Photo from The Luminary's Facebook page
"French inspired Southern bistro" to shutter

The Luminary, the chic, upscale  restaurant from chef Eli Kirshtein, confirmed earlier today it will close after dinner service on March 31st.   The restaurant opened in early August 2014.  The closure follows last year's closures of The Spotted Trotter, Frankly and Cockentrice and the reconcepting of the full service Craft Izakaya to the quick serve Makimono earlier this year.

Superica from Ford Fry is now the last remaining original full service restaurant from the property opened in 2014.

An Atlanta native, Kirshtein got his start in the culinary world with Buckhead Life Restaurant Group's Buckhead Diner where he was trained by Kevin Rathbun, eventually landing the gig of Executive Chef at the now shuttered ENO by Zaza in Midtown.  Kirshtein was also a contestant in Top Chef season 6.

I first got word of The Luminary's planned closure earlier this month when  I learned privately that the restaurant was actively for sale.  At that time, I elected not to go public with this news out of respect for the restaurant, its investors and employees.

With the news now public that the restaurant is in fact closing, it's worth noting that the writing has been on the wall for weeks that things were not going well for the restaurant.

On February 25, Facebook member Julie J. left a review on the restaurant's Facebook page that started:
"Horrible. Honestly the worst restaurant I have been to in several years."

This review was one of many critical of the restaurant's poor service.

No restaurant management responses were left to the various comments on the restaurant's Facebook page, which was last updated February 18th.

Yelp.com user Kristin B. was one of the most recent to review the restaurant on March 6th when she left a 2 star review.

"I'll be shocked if they make it till the spring. Went with a Groupon, so the price was right, but a Thursday night dinner should not take 2.5 hours. The foie gras Dutch baby appetizer was fantastic, but by the time our entrees came an hour later, we were so hungry we would have eaten shoe leather. Dessert was dry, crumbly, and not at all sweet. Next!"
Kristin's previous review from late 2014 was a 4 star review.

I was provided the following statement from Chef Kirshtein regarding the restaurant's closure:

"I am so proud of the staff, purveyors, and partners of The Luminary, and all we have achieved together. The dedication, commitment, and effort everyone has put forth over the last two and half years has been truly humbling, and I couldn't be more appreciative of the community support we have received. It's becoming more and more difficult to run a successful restaurant in a city with such a high level of saturation. With costs increasing across the board, the challenges became too great for us. I always sincerely and deeply love the city of Atlanta and the people in it. Being born and raised here and having the ability to continue my career here is a dream come true. I look forward to cooking for Atlanta again - sometime soon!"

Are you surprised that The Luminary is closing?  Do you think Groupon is the kiss of death in the restaurant world?  What would you like to see open in place of The Luminary at Krog Street Market?

Please share your thoughts below.

29 comments:

Disa Chantel said...

This news broke here, on What Now ATL, and on Eater Atl all at the same time. I've never even heard of the restaurant.

Ham said...

While the City of Atlanta no doubt still offers a lot of opportunities for small business to succeed it does appear there may be a limit. With an increased population base, lower operating cost and less bureaucracy I wonder if we might start to see more restaurants bypassing the city for the burbs? No, I don’t expect to see Kevin Rathbun opening a restaurant in Snellville, but might we see more high-end restaurants in Toco Hills, Peachtree Corners or even Tucker?

vespajet said...

Perhaps we've overdone it with these market spaces? Krog Street Market seemed to be chugging along fine until Ponce City Market opened. One of the common complaints about KSM and other similar small urban markets is the lack of parking. While these markets are geared towards the surrounding neighborhoods, even those residents don't always want to walk to them. Ponce City Market has plenty of parking, which helps attract more patrons.

Anonymous said...

If a family of four set a goal to eat once at every dinner restaurant within five miles of their house, committing three nights out per week, it would require the better part of half a year to accomplish. There are simply too many restaurants. Even people who dine out most nights generally cultivate a core group of favorites. Many people are not willing to risk satisfaction in search of adventure, so they generally stick to their 'reliables.' In order to pull diners from the relative predictability and price points of the ubiquitous chains, independent spots must offer broad appeal, unwavering consistency, and especially value - which requires flawless efficiency and minimal waste - as the foundation for the proprietors' creative goals. There is not sufficient restaurant staff available and willing to do what is necessary to make all the independents stand above the crowded competitive field. In addition, social media immediately amplifies every disappointed reviewer.

It is a very tough business where only the very best manage to prosper and survive - and those that do succeed do so because their owners and managers work much longer and harder than most of us would even consider.

Anonymous said...

the menus at many of these boutique restaurants are far too foodie...if a retro diner were to open (and not that disaster that was at Atlantic Station)...I'd be there all the time.

Steven Crofut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Crofut said...

Too many foodie destinations, not enough special nights' out to accommodate. Amazing how popular diners are in densely populated cities like NYC, San Fran, Miami...perhaps a local restauranteur will want to cater to a steady stream of customers, and not the AJC food critics...someday. (and please, that disaster from Atlantic Station doesn't count)

AJ said...

I've eaten at KSM probably about a dozen times or so. I live in Smyrna and work in Vinings so it isn't like I'm in the area that often. My favorite is Fred's, so when their GT location opens, I'll probably go to KSM less. But I do have a point. I'm a single man who makes a good living. I can eat at any and all of the places in KSM as often as I like. Is a sandwich at Fred's more than a sandwich at most other places? Sure, but I like the sandwich (& the quality) enough that it's worth it to me. I like Jenni's ice cream. Is the ice cream more than ice cream at most other places? Sure, but it's good ice cream. I can make this same comparison to most places at KSM and that's the issue. The Atlanta restaurant scene seems to be thoroughly embracing high end options only. It works for some diners, but does not work for most. As others have stated (& is just common knowledge), the restaurant business is hard. If you start with a price point that is out of many people's league, then you're already putting yourself at a disadvantage. Does that mean there isn't a place for a "Rathbun's" or "Marcel"? Of course there is, but it doesn't mean that every new restaurant should require that you spend $100 on a meal for 1 person. It seems that Atlanta is missing the variety of price points. Yes, I'm generalizing as I can say I want to spend $X on a meal and find a place where I can get a meal for $X, but it seems the vast majority of new restaurants have a high $X value. I noticed this because I've lived in Atlanta for 20 years. My parents visit and like to go out to eat and always want to try a new restaurant. They want to pay. Lately, every new restaurant I suggest, they question the price. It's a valid point. It seems a restaurant should be able to have entrees in the high teens to low 20s and still survive. If not, there's an issue with the business model somewhere. Not every restaurant needs to have Springer Farms Chicken and every other "brand name" of meat and local farm. Many people just don't care! And if the issue is high rent, an easy solution, as another commenter wrote - head OTP. Smyrna will support you. Tucker will support you. Peachtree Corners will support you, etc.

Anonymous said...

@Ham - already happening. Noble Fin in Peachtree Corners is a prime example.
Plenty of spots in John's Creek as well. Not sure if/when it will happen at Toco/Tucker area, as the average household income in those areas may not be high enough yet to justify.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there may be an oversaturation of restaurants but at the same time I find it incredibly difficult to get into very good restaurants inside of a few days notice (looking at you, BoccaLupo).

As for the Luminary, I never sensed that they were doing well from the beginning as I don't recall seeing it busy or there being a mostly full restaurant. It's location within KSM isn't the most visible but it's not a walk-up type restaurant either.

It's years away but the NAP mixed-use development will help bring more residents to the area within walking distance of KSM.

Anonymous said...

Shocking!

Anonymous said...

AJ: " I'm a single man who makes a good living. I can eat at any and all of the places in KSM as often as I like"

Define good living, a simple figure like your 2016 taxable income.

Anonymous said...

Atlantans in general just don't support small businesses. Put a Longhorn or Olive Garden in the Luminary space and call it a day.

Anonymous said...

Just cook what average person can eat at a reasonable price & decent quality. All these type of restaurants cater to very limited patrons so they are doom yo fail. Check out Buford Hwy. Everyone's in business and doing good from Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Cuban, Persian, Vietnamese all kind of others ones. Decent food at reasonable price. Nothing fancy.

Anonymous said...

Atlanta: the city too transient to care.

AJ said...

@Anon @ 2:33PM - Irrelevant to the discussion because whether I make $50,000 or $5,000,000, it's enough for me. But thanks for asking.

jeff a. taylor said...

Malls are dead, retail is dying, and a glorified food court is supposed to be bulletproof? Don't get it. Tell me the realistic 10min walking distance foot traffic and I'll tell you how many dollars per hour that could net. And if that number is a third of the rent I'll be shocked.

Anonymous said...

AJ said...
@Anon @ 2:33PM - Irrelevant to the discussion
-----------------------------------------

Um NO, YOU brought up your income. But thanks for showing us your delusions of self importance to the marketplace once again.

Anonymous said...

These new places are just too expensive to take my family of four. We like the ethnic, Buhi scene, where we can eat for cheap (and we can eat things 'family style', sharing a $12-$14 dish amongst us, and taking home leftovers). We really miss the S&S, just good solid southern fare with low prices for kids. Maybe 'Gunshow' was aimed at regular folks like us, but $10-$15 per bite of food is too steep for our budget.

Anonymous said...

Wait a second...you share one $12-$14 dish among a family of four and have leftovers? That's less than fast food prices. You sure you know what you're eating over there?

Anonymous said...

10:02: We'll get 3 things, a noodle, veggie, a meat dish, maybe totaling around $35 or so, maybe an appetizer too. More bang for the buck than these Luminary type places. We like General Muir every so often, and Stiles fish camp was good too, but they're rare splurges.



Anonymous said...

Wow so we have the wealthy single guy that overeats and the struggling family of four that under eats. Maybe this party of 5 of can meet over at KSM, where AJ buys the meals and the family pays the tip. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about Toco Hills, Peachtree Corners or Tucker, but Marietta Square already has two - The Butcher The Baker and Spring, and they're both doing very well. Throw Two Birds Taphouse, which is more of a higher end brewpub, Tsunami and Stockyard into the mix and you've got quite a thriving independent restaurant scene right on the Square... And that's just counting the truly good ones that we like. And at least one more is in the pipeline. Come check out the Square sometime!

Anonymous said...

Ponce killed KSM.

AJ (not my name) said...

Hey Anon - If I was deeming myself so important, wouldn't I use my real name? I was making a point. Even if that portion of my statement is untrue, it doesn't change the crux of my statement. Call me fictional and that I made up that I "make a good living" if that helps you sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

I'm so tired of the "cook average food for average people" argument. Go to applebees or olive garden if you want bland "non foodie" meals. Just because you dont like good food, doesnt mean every new restaurant should cater to you. Also, if you cant afford it - dont go!

The Luminary failed because it was not a good restaurant, not because it was geared towards a different demographic

Anonymous said...

Oh good grief! AJ and AJ (not my name) seem to have a multiple personality problem. The topic is Krog Street Market and the failure of Luminary (and other restaurants), not you and your alter egos!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree. What the heck is a french inspired southern bistro. Make a choice and stop with the menu schizophrenia

Unknown said...

Ponce City Market cannibalized a big part of KSM's higher end customers. People that come into town from any of the burbs go to PCM instead due to the immersive experience including better parking and higher end retail. Anytime I go to KSM it's 20-somethings that just got off the beltline and are buying a beer from Hop City and a sandwich from one of the other places that they can walk around and eat. KSM still gets a good amount of traffic - but 20-somethings can't usually support higher end eateries.

That being said - Ticonderoga Club seems to be doing just fine, but is also much hipper than some of the places that didn't make it.