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Jan 2, 2007 03:22 PM

Emperor at the Linden, Hartford - Anyone been?

I've heard rumors of financial strain in getting this effort off the ground. Wondering if quality has been compromised as a result.


The menu looks a little pretentious, but I guess that is the idea.

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      1. I happen to live upstairs at the Linden and was able to watch the Emperor go through it's metamorphesis. It's true it took a while to complete, but, that was mostly due to the fact that the space had been vacant for years and in need of many major repairs. The good news is that when it finally opened, the owner did not sacrifice anything. The reviews for the food, the ambience, the bar, the desserts have been great. One reviewer said the food was a bit pricey but definitely worth every dollar. There's a great "house music" scene in the basement level and live jazz starts this friday in the dining area after 9 pm. It's an all around great scene.

        PS: Try the conch fritters (appetizer) and the painkiller (special cocktail)

        10 Replies
        1. re: sundaywar

          Do you remember what the bar/restaurant was called before? My husband and I spent many a night there during our younger days and we can't remember the name.

          1. re: llblair

            Corny T's wasn't around long enough to spend "many a night there". (Thankfully. It was dreadful). How about Spencer's? Perhaps that was it. One of the many earlier incarnations.

          2. re: sundaywar

            wasn;t it corney T's? after the basketball player?

            1. re: sodagirl

              Yes, after the Basketball player. And that building was previously co-owned by Mike Tyson. Prior to that, it was Spencer's. That was a really "happening" place.

              1. re: rrdrums

                When the building (circa 1890) was made into condos in the '80s, the restaurant space on the 1st floor was Spencers, quite the rockin' place, *everyone" went there. Then in the '90s Don King (not Mike Tyson) bought the space (not the whole building - there's something like 50 condos in it) and opened Corny T's with Corny. Corny T's lasted only about 6 months, then folded. The space sat vacant for 6 years or so til the current owners bought it for a song (maybe 2005?) and renovated the kitchen and prettied up the place. They also built a nightclub in the basement, complete with beds. It seems the nightclub is doing better than the restaurant, whenever I walk by there are a few people in the bar but not the dining room. I've heard they are on their third chef since opening a little over a year ago - not sure why. I ate there a couple times when it first opened and the food was very good (if a bit expensive) but the service was slow. Not sure what it's like now.

                1. re: citybrunette

                  I used to work at the Emperor. The place is vast and beautiful, every piece of furniture inside is exquisite, they went for the best when they created this place. However, the owner doesn't have a good reputation with the employees, he's quite a hothead! He gets extremely intoxicated during work and flips out on the employees, actually his first 2 chefs were fired in similar fashion - alcohol rage!

                  1. re: kellyo_08

                    Do you know that it took five years between the opening of the first Max On Main and the next Max restaurant? Many years ago I asked RR about the long time gap and he said it was because he wanted to learn how to run a business...he know how to run a restaurant. Duh...anyone listening?

                    I watched the previews of the emperor...and wondered to myself...how can someone who has so little experience in one of the most challenging games in the world spend so much money on a place...the size alone means the start up costs are immense...the dept on a $100k is $2K a month...the margins must be pretty high to service something like that...and all that inventory...seafood and steaks just going bad after a slow week.

                    The article in the Courant on the start up was something no serious restauranteur would have allowed.

                    Now...if you watch food trends...high end meals work in a couple of places...Vegas...and some of the larger cities...where the vast populations mean someone is going to eat in your place...but to be honest...Hartford is not one of those places.
                    L'Americaine proved that 20 years ago...they lost $1M over ten years...haven;t heard from those folks for a while. (The Cavey's downstairs has some nights where only two or three parties are booked and they do what the Emperor does with food but much better)

                    I could go on...but the last smack in the head was this...did these people ever stand outside on a weeknight...or a weekend for that matter, and count the people and cars driving in downtown Hartford...?

                    There aren't any...

                    and the georgraphic size of hartford means there will never be any tax base to increase investment ...at least of the size that would drive population increase...wasn;t Hart Com College supposed to being people into the city? Most of those are students with second jobs or families...not really the type that wants to spend time n the basement of a nightclub ...lying around on beds...a concept that was passe a year before they brought it to Hartford...

                    It's a poor location...and I won;t even comment on an owner who drinks while working...and denigrates the responsibility he has for running a business...does he realize he is responsbile for his employees being able to pay their rent and put food on the table for their families?...arrogance and poor behavior is inexcusable...(see Rocco DiSpirito...the onslaught of emails from CIA alumni to the school after he as given an award made his debacle as a impudent adolescent one of the all time greatest examples of stupidity...he lost all credibility with professionals.

                    It's just a matter of time for the Emperor to abdicate ...

                    1. re: sodagirl

                      So should I try this place while I can or just forget about it?

                      BTW, I really appreciate the scoop on why places are going down, but I can't help but wonder if there are potential risks in posting certain stuff. Must be lots of atty chowhounds out there, any thoughts? (this question is far from limited to this chain of posts)

                      1. re: jkuhlen

                        I'm in so deep I'll never get out...give it a try and let us know

                        1. re: sodagirl

                          Thanks, sodagirl, if I try it I'll let you know.

                          I wasn't referring to your post (which I thought was excellent btw) with my comment. Here is what I'm thinking: If I post "Joe's Cafe has gone way downhill", its my opinion. If I post "Joe's Cafe has gone way downhill because the owner is a drug addict and beats his kids", I think I'm risking being sued for defamation or slander or something (assuming my identity could be established, which I bet it could). So I guess I'm just saying "be careful out there".