Thursday, September 24, 1998
Easy come, easy go. Or so it would seem, in the capricious world of the restaurant business. Ask the people who are in it and they''ll tell you it''s not for the money, it''s just what they do. And often they''ll wryly add that it''s the one sure way not to get rich quick.
Still, plenty of people get the itch and decide to scratch. Don Bowen, the owner of Carmel Business Sales, brokers most of the restaurant deals around the Peninsula and says that his ears are permanently ringing, a condition caused by his unceasingly active telephone. Record numbers of restaurant hopefuls dial Don''s number, even though, in his estimation, the business has only gotten tougher. "These days, to have a successful restaurant, you really have to be good," he reflects. "There''s just more--and better--places than ever."
Bowen encounters about 25 businesses on the market as an average, year in and year out. And, in our area, you can count on the fact that restaurants haven''t become cheaper to own--costs are continually compounded by hurdles like increased parking fees and shrinking water credits.
The scale often seems tipped against the success of an industry as volatile as the restaurant business. DuVal''s recent divorce from the Los Laureles Lodge is a sad case in point. This landmark spot, so well-loved by locals, nonetheless remains beleaguered by the inability to sustain a restaurant that can make it and go from surviving to thriving.
Thankfully, neither is there a shortage of good news on the restaurant beat. Even though he was cooking for some of this country''s top food editors and writers, executive chef Michael Kimmel breezed through the evening last month when D''Arrigo Bros. Produce feted their guests of honor at Tarpy''s Roadhouse. Representatives of Ladies'' Home Journal, Better Homes and Gardens and Sunset Magazine, to name a few, were introduced--some for the first time--to the abundant delights of Monterey County, including a tour of some of the finest farmland found anywhere and a trip to the county fair. Kimmel''s send-off menu included a variety of of delectable preparations of locally grown fennel and broccoli rabe, to leave them with a lasting memory.
More cool news: Crocodile Seafood Grill''s "Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator magazine, the recognized guide to restaurants that boast the best wine lists in the world. "Even though our wine list starts at $9 a bottle, we''re pleased to be able to offer our wines at about 45 percent below what you may pay in other restaurants," states owner and GM Cindy Walter.
Did someone say wine? Rancho Cellars kicks off the "Tour de France" this evening at 6pm at the Carmel Crossroads. Taste vintages from Champagne, Alsace, Chablis, Burgundy (starting to get the picture?) for only 20 bucks...and hors d''oeuvres, too.
Mourners of the dearly departed Granary Market may also take heart. A new business, Harvest Natural Foods has purchased the Granary''s old equipment and will be opening in the Holman Building. Featuring your fave foods, Harvest will begin bringing in the sheaves next month.
The trout almondine (for only $5.95) was such a hit on the Monarch Cafe''s lunch menu, chef Art Russell has decided to open for dinner. Beginning this week, seafood night happens at the Monarch Cafe Thursday and Friday evenings in Pacific Grove. 373-7911. cw