The Year/The Decade: Flops

No one relishes disaster.

Take that back. No one relishes disaster in their own community. While wary of competition, restaurant owners also know that a popular venue opening nearby helps drive traffic, and traffic means potential profit.

Yet sometimes man's reach exceeds his grasp--a line which we stole from a greeting card but the greeting card company stole from Browning. Partners spend more on design than they can recoup, chefs and owners bicker, the popular mood shifts or disposable income evaporates...

Not every failure is the fault of the entrepreneur.

There were some notable riches-to-rags stories (Deep Ellum comes to mind). But we settled on these...

Flops of 2009:

1. Mico Rodriguez
It was a momentous year for the man behind Mi Cocina. Divorce, ouster, self-ostracization, a D magazine cover story detailing his downfall, momentary resurrection at Screen Door--then another fall out. A tough, tough year indeed.

2. Lazare
They open in the former Pescabar space (in turn the former Ferre space) to some good publicity thanks to chef David Gilbert and partner Russell Hayward. Then the chef was gone. Shortly after that, Hayward was gone, as well--leaving a shell that very quickly collapsed.

3. Pescabar
Ferre had fizzled. Riding in to rescue the spacious West Village corner came Alberto Lombardi and Pescabar. At first crowds followed. But Lombardi's team never really gelled and he quickly pulled the plug.

Flops of the 00s:

1. Il Mulino
Phil Romano imported this ritzy (in price, as well as dress code) Italian concept from New York...and it didn't fare well. We remember some comment on one of the dining sites--Chowhound, most likely--which said something to the effect of "$400 for Chef Boyardee." Summed it up nicely. Before bowing out, however, Romano tried to sue then DMN food critic Dotty Griffith for giving the place a four-star review.

2. Voltaire
It defined opulence--just as the dot coms busted and just before that post 9-11 retrenchment into comfort food. Scott Ginsburg's palace was stuffed with expensive wine and Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. His waitresses were stuffed into $5,000 custom gold leather outfits. Fitting that it's now a bank.

3. Victory Park
Sure, people beat on Victory--probably far too often. Considering the lead up to its opening, the brief heady days of Ghostbar, N9NE and other presumed hotspots and the functional shell it has become. At least Craft and the big screens survived. Whatever, Victory deserves a spot on the list.