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Jan 22, 2007 07:21 PM

MSP - Auriga Closing

Things really do come in threes. Ten years is a good run and all but I can't help but think if they focused as much on the front of house as they did on the product coming out of the kitchen, Flicker & Co. would have maintained their clientele. At least that's been my experience there.

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  1. 10 years is a helluva run. This is a business of the heart. Basic economics have to be there, but the financial rewards seldom begin to meet the physical/mental/emotional requirement. Auriga was relatively recently joined by the forces of La Belle Vie, 20.21, and Lurcat. Could have been the start of a dining district, but might have led to a few too many seats (on the high end) for the neighborhood.

    All this angst about the TC's greater food culture is a puzzle. This market is coming to maturity in an interesting age. The food media, cult of celebrity etc. has created a set of values and expectations which are new and sometimes unrealisitc. Essentially you (the dining public) have to put your money where your mouth is. What options do you want to have? National chains, high end concepts managed by groups from afar, the local restaurant groups, or a smattering of local chef driven concepts? Ownership and leadership are factors which need to be more widely understood. It's not so much a matter of strengthening the local economy as it is a matter of supporting the local culinary brain trust. What's distinctive about a city are it's one of a kind, chef driven establishments. We've just lost one which I felt had a place. There are other losses which represent hubris or lousy management, not Auriga.

    1. Sometimes I wonder if restaurants such as Auriga are actually intimidating to many Minnesotans. I've heard quite a few people say that they are and I'm somewhat like that myself. It takes a wee bit of adventureness (is that a word)? But when I become anxious about visiting a new restaurant that I see as maybe being too fancy for me (just my observation), I just go to one of the *many* I've been to and are comfortable with.

      1. I was just going to post this.

        How disappointing. However, I was pretty surprised they lasted 10 years with that low a number of tables and high quality product.

        1. What a bummer. Do you think the population of the Twin Cities is just too small to support this many restaurants in the fine dining price point and the new Chambers and Cue's and 20.21's just push the older ones out because there's just not enough of that business to go around?

          Restaurants like SF and NYC and Chicago has such a big tourist base that, I assume, helps support these restaurants. Is that part of the issue?

          EDIT--by the way, appetizers and amuses at Auriga was on Dara's top ten list last year. What a disappointment to lose it.


          1. This city lacks fine diners and fine dining servers & management. Any monkey with $$$ can hire a great chef and get a concept up and running, but day in day out, there has to be a commitment to the ideals from the entire staff and from a large number of dining constituents.

            5 Replies
            1. re: g rote

              But why don't we have fine diners? Are we just too small, population-wise? Is it the relative lack of tourism? Is it the urban-sprawlness and the dual-downtownness of us? Or is it a cultural thing?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                --Culture of Modesty
                --Lack of tourist dollars (the "tourists" we do have are concentrated around a 5 block area of downtown on weeknights, and tend not to stray beyond a few places that are very well located)
                --Lack of local disposable income(seems to me everyone in MN has a mortgage and crushing daycare bills)

                --Sprawl is not a factor...there are more spread out cities that still manage (LA)to have great restaurants.

                1. re: g rote

                  I'll buy those as reasons. When I was doing some (very casual) research on various US cities a couple of years ago, the Twin Cities had one of the highest (if not highest) rates of home ownership and of married people in the country. San Francisco, for instance, is just the opposite, as well as being one of the most travelled to destinations in the world. That must bring in enough extra dollars, plus reinforce a dining out culture.

                  Well, it's too bad to lose some of the great restaurants. I suppose we should work hard to enjoy them while they're here.


                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  g_rote's points are all very good. I'd like to add that "fine diners" are not born, they are made and the fine dining factory around here hasn't been open that long.

                  I just hope these talents stay in the TCs while we work that part out.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    in today's STRIB analysis of the closings, someone referred to there being a lot of Lutheran DNA here. that may be good for Garrison Keillor. Bad for quality restaurants.