Independent restaurants are still struggling to hold on in a tough economy.

No Silver Lining 

Independent restaurants are still struggling to hold on in a tough economy.

Independent restaurateurs like Tom Macaluso (see review) are having a harder time filling seats since the September 11 attack sent the economy reeling. For David Rabinovitz, owner of the thirteen-year-old Metropolis restaurant in Westport, the combination of "the economy, equipment breaking down, negative publicity about Westport and 2,000 new restaurant seats -- in chain restaurants -- opening in Midtown in the last two years" all proved to be too much. He closed the restaurant with the distinctive silver facade April 1. "It just wasn't a business anymore," Rabinovitz says. "I tried and tried and tried, but it was too hard to make a living."

Rabinovitz isn't sure what he's going to do next. He has spent most of his adult life in the restaurant business. "Right now, it's too hard to think about that," he says. "I can't even go into the place today. It's too upsetting."

Trying to keep business going has affected restaurateurs all over the city. Nazeeh Hajeeh, for example, just can't make up his mind about his Middle Eastern restaurant in Waldo. Last summer, he changed the name of his then-three-year-old Promiseland Café (7630 Wornall Road) to the Ali Baba Café. Now it's the Promiseland Café once again. "The Ali Baba Café wasn't a good name after September 11," he says. "My regular customers didn't understand that it was still me, serving my food."

Hajeeh's business has picked up a bit since he took back his old name (it would be even better if he took credit cards) and began offering a $5.95 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet Monday through Saturday. His newest dinner-hours innovation is a "Create Your Own Entrée" from a list of various meats and sauces (such as mint cream, vanilla cream or Cajun-style). He's lowered some prices too. But bring cash or a checkbook.

Low prices are the primary draw at the new Twin Dragon Chinese Restaurant (3620 Broadway), in a former International House of Pancakes building. All of the lunch specials in this tidy joint go for less than five bucks. Dinners are only a few dollars more, and options include that legendary import from southwest Missouri: Springfield Cashew Chicken (invented at Leong's Tea House), deep-fried and smothered in oyster sauce. By the way, there is no connection between the owners of Twin Dragon and the similar-sounding Double Dragon (531 Main Street).

And the independently owned Moscow Nights (4515 West 90th Street) has closed in the space that was once an Ethiopian restaurant called Martha's. Now there's not a table in the place -- only yoga mats. On April 1, the location re-opened as Well Being Yoga, co-owned by Mindy Schultz and Sue Patterson. Nothing remains of the flamboyant Moscow Nights décor.

"We ripped out everything," Schultz says. "From the borscht-colored walls to the Chernobyl-style mural."

There's no food either, though sweaty yogis can buy juices, waters and apples after a brisk workout.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Charles Ferruzza

Latest in Fat Mouth

Facebook Activity

All contents ©2014 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation