RIP - Wilhelm's Chophouse @ Irvine Marketplace
David Wilhelm's eponymously-named "chophouse" at the Irvine Marketplace has closed. This place had been French 75 Brasserie (also a part of Wilhelm's restaurant group) until it was re-branded sometime around the beginnning of this year IIRC. A sign posted on the front entrance says that regrettably in these bad economic times they had to close their doors, and that gift cards etc would be honored at their other locations.
I'm sad to see this place go - my wife and I had really enjoyed it when it was still the French 75 Brasserie - we loved the fact that it was a nice place with some well-made food and nearby - we loved the swanky lounge, the great frites, and the interesting wine list. When they changed over to a "chophouse", I think I could see the writing on the wall, that they were struggling a bit. Oh well I hope that this is not a harbinger of things to come in terms of the vitality of our local restaurants, we'll see I guess.
Yeah, Culinary Adventures announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, and Wilhelm resigned. Two other locations are closing, but I'm not sure which ones. Some will remain open, like the Savannah next to the South Coast Mall, and the one at the Huntington Beach pier.
Here's the OC Register article on the bankruptcy:
Quote from that article in Wonginator's post,
"Besides the French 75 brand, Culinary Adventures operates Savannah restaurants in Costa Mesa and Laguna Niguel; Savannah at the Beach in Huntington Beach and Sorrento Grille in Laguna Beach.
"Those remaining eateries are expected to remain in operation."
That articles gives him credit for opening Culinary Adventures in 1997, but I remember his handsome face gracing magazine covers in 1982 (locally in Newport Beach), as a great restauranteer. Remember his Bistro 201 in Newport Beach? and the unique drive-through gourmet lunch place across the street from there?
He started as an executive for Taco Bell Corporation, but had no professional chef school training. He just loves what he does cooking and, of course, who wouldn't get good if they do what they love?
Mr. Wilhelm is probably of retirement age. But, the article also says he resigned from the business, but may rise up and start again?
I wonder if the catering company section of Culinary Adventures is doing any business.