Whatever Happened to Maple in Hlfx?
On one of our visits to Halifax we had quite a good meal on one of the upper levels of this restaurtant which I think was on Barrington. Micheal Smith was no longer in the kitchen but may have had an equity position.
On our next trip, Smith was apparently completely out of the picture and they either had or were about to convert the bottom floor into a wine bar.
Is there a restaurant at that location currently?
No urgency ...or admittedly any particular point other than curiosity....
Yes, Michael Smith started Maple at that location (1813 Granville, one block below Barrington) and after some very strong intial reviews it apparently ran into difficulties. I am not sure how much of it had to do with Smith being too much the celeb chef (the Rocco Di Spirito effect) and how much was that it was a little pricey and grand for this market. In any event, it tried to remake itself into a wine bar, which also failed, and then it was an Italian place (Pastavino, I think) for a while before expiring as a restaurant. It is now Thumpers salon, a hairstyling place.
As the former sommelier at Maple...I can tell you lots about Maple's downfall. The problem was two-fold., maybe three-fold. Michael is a good chef and great personality, but he and the owners never came to any ownership agreement, so when the financial reality of running the operation came to light after a couple years, tension mounted and the two parted ways. Anytime a celebrate chef leaves a restaurant, its bad news for the restaurant. Michael did some silly things at the beginning as well, such as putting on an Oestra Caviar app for $70. Stuff like that gave us the perception of being too expensive, when in reality, the more expensive restaurant to dine at was Da Maurizio -- but Da's does a much better job of allowing its staff to increase the guest check instead of trying to get the $ by trickery or trying to sell the big ticket food item or big bottle of wine. Next, the sous chef who took over was good at food cost but had zero business being a head chef at this type of restaurant, so inventiveness suffered dramatically after Michael's departure. I love Cathy, the owner, but for whatever reason they tried to turn the downstairs into a wine bar (but giving no $$ to invest in a wine program) and made what begged to be a cosy intimate room open and bistro looking...not good. Finally, the location was awful. No walk by traffic, no parking, and poor street lighting. Better suited to be a hair salon apparently
Thanks for the update. Too bad about the winebar effort. We must have visited just before it was to open because I too thought the setting looked right for what you have described. I am not sure but I think we sat at the bar before our reservations upstairs were ready.
Not a good sign for a wine bar if mgmt is not prepared to spend the $ as you observed. Next thing you know you are only getting glasses of Yellow Label and labels with animals and fish on them.
re: Bob Mac
Mark's analysis is accurate and informed. The only thing that I would add to the discussion is to suggest that the owners didn't put money into a wine program because they didn't have any money to into a wine program. The new restaurant was done on a wing and a prayer, as my Mom would have said, with no margin for error.
Exactly. I think had the owners had the money to put in a wine program they would have I can't think of a more supportive owner than Cathy LeVangie. There isn't a harder working person in the business in Halifax. I hope some day Cathy and Maria (who works in the kitchen at the Cellar) open a Spanish restaurant. Maria who once worked at Paloma - a restaurant ahead of its time - could produce a great tapas/wine bar. An authentic alternative to the ones now available in the city.