Friday, January 02, 2009

What Day Is It?

For that matter, what time is it?

Things are a little out of kilter at our home. Both Mama Wordbones and I took off today. The girls slept in this morning. It felt like Sunday. Around 11:00 or so this morning Mama Wordbones whipped up some breakfast which meant that lunch would screw up dinner. When we get a holiday in the middle of a week it really throws off the normal ebb and flow of our household.

The ebb and flow of the Columbia lakefront restaurant scene was the topic of conversation while watching the Trojans maul the Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl with some neighbors last night. We were mostly talking about the recent demise of Jesse Wong’s Hong Kong. One of my neighbors contended that it is just a lousy spot for a restaurant.

I could understand why he would think that. There has been a progression of failed restaurants in that spot. The first was a salad concept called Fresh Choice. They were followed by a Brazilian steakhouse concept. I can’t recall what that place was called.

And now Jesse Wong’s, a dim sum concept, closes.

So is it the operator, the concept, or the real estate?

Jesse Wong’s Hong Kong was run by an experienced successful restaurateur. That tells me there is nothing wrong with the operator.

The lakefront location is flanked by Sushi Sono on one side and Tomato Palace on the other. Both of these restaurants are doing fine, even in this current recession. That tells me that there is nothing wrong with the real estate.

So it must be the concept.


Almost Sooted said...

I totally agree about not knowing what day or time it is. Going back to work on Monday is going to be one big pain. Oh well, according to my vacation sun dial I would have to guess that it is Friday. That means we have two more full days of no work!!! Hurray!!!

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with you. I think the location was fine for Jesse Wong's Hong Kong, but the concept did not fit.

Maybe a European style restaurant could sustain longer, like a French bistro. I think it would fit clientele in the area better.

Tom said...

So the Lake Front is good for Japanese Sushi, but not High End Chinese? Doesn't make sense. Except there are enough good Chinese restaurants around Columbia that people just don't think it's necessary to go to the Lake Front for Chinese. Customers are fickle.
Maybe a Maryland, Maryland type store would be good in that location. (No I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.) Just my $.02.

Anonymous said...

A nice bar would probably do well there.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a bar, but I can tell you from the perspective of someone who used to drive into Columbia regularly for restaurants, the trip cost/benefit became skewed (or skewered if you're the establishment); would the establishment have a seat or would I be left waiting for 30 minutes, no room at the bar? Would the weather hold out so that I didn't get drenched on the lengthy trip to the car? Would the wind die down so I didn't get frost bitten on the car-restaurant walk and would it be cool enough inside in summer? Would there be reasonable parking? Would the parking lot be safe late at night? Would the food and company be worth all this?

Seemed much easier to stay away.

This might be of no consequence, but a woman who has to walk alone could feel uncomfortable traipsing through narrow blackened sidewalks, tall bushes - nevermind what the excursion does to hair and skin and clothing on the way inside. More people are opting to stay uncoupled, according to the census, and at some point this will affect so much, if it hasn't already.

Anonymous said...

Midday yesterday I was also asking H what day it was. I had spent about 6 hours in the office, the phone rang infrequently, the staff was off for the holiday and I had a chance to clean up my desk...and put together a letter to hire a new employee. A four day weekend in the winter is phychologically disjointing. Glad to hear someone else was confused about the day.
It is a shame that Jesse Wong's left. I have to admit I never frequented his place. There are just too many restaurants and too little time to seek them out. If it were my money, I would try a decent seafood restaurant...McCormick and Smhmick.
This is Saturday so have a good one.

Young at Heart said...

We went to Jesse Wong's twice. Once when it first opened, and it was okay. Another time there was not another customer in the entire restaurant and it took us 15 minutes to get waited on and 45 to get our food. Never again.

Although Sushi Sono, Tomato Palace, and Clyde's seem to do fine, that particular location doesn't seem to work. Is it because it doesn't have as good a lake view as the others? It's too big? Restaurants on the lake need to be unique because of their hard-to-find location?

I think because those restaurants are not visible from the street, you have to specifically seek them out or remember them. That makes it hard for a new place to survive.

Anon 9:05 has some good points, too.

Anonymous said...

Y'all are crazy. Christmas should be on a Thursday every year! What's wrong with so many days in a row feeling like SUNDAY!

As for the lakefront restaurant, there is absolutely nothing WONG with that site, as evidenced by the fantasmaghoric success of the other 3 fine operations there. What's WONG is the shortsightedness of the Landlord (read Rouse/GGP)refusing to "pay the price" to nab a top-notch well-known operator there. M&S, Ruth Chris, Flemings - they would all kill in that location. Heck, Phillips Seafood was the original interested party in 1992 for the entire upper level of the building! But the BIG BOYS demand huge concessions to lock up a top location, and TRC's mgmt. culture (after Mike Spear died) never had any vision/gumption/balls to do that. Behind the scenes they also turned down Nottingham's for that same location a year earlier. And queered the deal for Whole Foods Market to anchor the remake of Harpers Choice Village Center in the early 1990's as well. Adn turned down Trapeze from taking the spot at the Mall that Uno now occupies. (On a side note in the 90's, Columbia's sister city to the south,Reston, paid Clyde's $2.7 million - $300/s.f. - to anchor their Town Center retail! This town center gem of a location needs a combination of a big playa and a willing Landlord with a pile of concessions to offer.