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Tempo closing

Sorry if this has already been posted....it didn't pop up when I did a search.

My wife and I had dinner at Tempo on Sunday night and heard from our waitress that this coming Saturday will be their last night. I guess the recession has hit them hard, with their huge space. Too bad...this is a loss for the Slope in my book.

So, if you're jonesing for some of their bucatini, try to get it in this week.

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  1. Damn! That's really sad news. A true loss for the Slope, indeed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lochina

      What!!! This is terrible news if true. It has been such a staple for so many years and we go often. Please say it isn't so....!

    2. Absolutely one of the best of Brooklyn. I will miss the great space, food and wine. And the classiest of owners.... Michael and Robert.

      1. This is terrible news! Tempo is my favorite restaurant in Park Slope. I just called them to confirm and it is, apparently, true. What a loss.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Olive123

          My neighbor called last night and confirmed as well.

          This is a loss. I was always a fan of Tempo.

          However, I must admit to not going there as much as in the past. They didn't really change the menu as much as I would have hoped, and so I got a little bored with the offerings (although they were always delicious). More recently, I find myself driving over to Noodle Pudding or Le Petit Marche for the Friday night out.

        2. You're going to find a lot of restaurants closing in the near future. Fancy and non-fancy. Consumers are not spending their money on restaurants that much. The only eateries I see doing well are pizzerias and those " $4 fried chicken with french fries" Chinese joints.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bigmackdaddy

            Im really sorry about this one, though. One of the very best downtown brooklyn restaurants.

          2. We are deeply saddened to learn of TEMPO'S impending end.

            We have spent many,many lovely evenings there, enjoying the wonderful food and the gracious hospitality of Robert and Michael.

            I sadly agree with the OP that this will be the first of many closings. Restaurants in Brookltn Heights, and surrounding areas is down 30-40% or more.

            Park Slope seems to be the hardest hot. Partly because of the mentality of the residents, partly because the Slope is not a destination, as is the Heights. Many oif the better reataurtants in the Heights like Henry's End and Noodle Pudding get clients who come recommended by the concierge at the Brooklyn Marriott..

            Very sad, indeed. Sadder still, a harbinger of much more to come.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Fleur

              Fleur hits the nail on the head when he mentions "mentality of Park Slope residents". I think this plays more of part in Tempo's demise than the economy (which of course only exacerbates the problem). Recently, after ordering a bottle of wine, Robert commented that very few people order moderate priced bottles or any bottles from his wonderful wine list - we were one of a handful of couples. I don't believe this is because diners can't afford it. We're comfortable (and so are most slopers) but we're not new slopers and we could never have bought into the Slope in the past 10 years. So, PS'ers, the old guard and the new, are frugal, to put it nicely. And to further generalize - Slopers are notoriously reverse snobs (healthy incomes and the shlumpiest looking folks around. Shlumpy with pride!)- Tempo was too nice for us! What a shame. One of the things I'll miss, along with the wonderful food was that you could actually have a conversation as you dined since everybody doesn't have to sit on top of everyone else. One of the few "adult" dining experiences in PS. Very, very sad to see it go.

              1. re: Roxy9

                " Robert commented that very few people order moderate priced bottles or any bottles from his wonderful wine list - we were one of a handful of couples. I don't believe this is because diners can't afford it. "
                Since I'm not from your nabe, I'm not touching the whole PS mentality thiing, but I can say that there are lots of people who enjoying dining out, but don't or no longer drink alcohol. Part of the reason may be financial (There is often a 200% + markup on wine and 'moderately priced' is relative ) but other reasons may be for health, personal preference, etc.. I say that b/c I often dine with people who just don't drink alcohol or prefer to spend the money on a higher priced dinner or dessert,. If wine was not selling perhaps, as a cost cutting move, the owners should have considered reducing their inventory or dropping their liquor license entirely.

            2. Last night I went to enjoy one final dinner before they close. It was a great as always, and they were very gracious.

              It seems the word is out, they were very busy. So anyone who would like to enjoy one last fine meal there should call for reservations.

              1. I was there last night too, for the first, and I guess, the last time. This thread inspired me to finally make the trek out to Park Slope. Everything I had - warm goat cheese salad, Fregola with spicy calamari, chocolate gelati, and a quart of a nice Red (dont remember the name) - was wonderful. I wish I had made it out there earlier!

                Also, I overheard one of the servers tell another diner that they are going to e closed today, 06/05, for a private graduation party. So please call ahead if you were planning on going tonight and confirm....that would leave only tomorrow night open for the public.

                3 Replies
                1. re: fatema

                  we called and were told they were booked for tonight, but we were able to get a reservation for tomorrow (6 pm!) If only they'd been this busy all the time maybe they might have stayed open!

                  1. re: jinx

                    yeah. I guess we are part of the reason they are closing. We always thought they set the bar in Park Slope but almost never went.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Well to us it was sort of a special-occasion place; not that it was necessarily more expensive, but just that it felt "special" and so it wasn't an "every other friday" kind of place. We went there about three or four times a year--often brought out-of-town friends there. Maybe it was too nice for its own good, in a way!

                2. I've never eaten at Tempo but I've always seen very favorable reviews from many esteemed 'Hounds.With that in mind, is it at all possible that the owners are planning to open in another less pricey location? If not, has anyone tried to find out where the Chef will be relocating?

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: Tay

                    I heard Robert say when I was there that maybe he'll write a book....nothing about opening at a new location.

                    1. re: fatema

                      I find it isurprising that no one seems to have mentioned specifically why it's closing.
                      Is it just a given that it's due to financial reasons?.

                      1. re: Tay

                        Yes. Definitely financial. They've been incredibly inventive in keeping afloat, changing around the fixed price menu concept several times, offering specials on things, having 1/2 price wine nights (an incredible bargain, given their selection.... I've been able to learn about some very nice wines from Robert, while basically paying retail prices on Tues and Wed), joining forces with a charity for awhile (lots of posts on this) and even closing down one of the Tempo Prestos. As far as I know, nothing kept them out of debt over the past year or more.

                        I'm not going to try to draw conclusions on why.... it's not my place and I'm not knowledgeable enough anyway. But these were very business savvy owners who offered a quality product at a more than reasonable price point in a dense, reasonably affluent neighborhood & did it in a professional, personable, friendly manner. Whatever went wrong, it's a real shame and we'll miss them greatly. I anticipate sending them off with a bang tonite! (7:30pm for us... party of 6, if anyone else from CH is there and wants to introduce themselves).

                        1. re: Steve R

                          Steve R
                          Thank you for your excellent post. You really gave a detailed account of the owner's efforts to keep the restaurant afloat.. One can only hope they'll rreopen the restaurant in a less costly location.
                          I hope you have an excellent evening. :-)

                          1. re: Tay

                            Tay- your post made me chuckle- The first "real" restaurant to open on 5th ave back in the day was Cucina- in the space that is not Tempo. They were pioneers. No one could imagine that a high priced (!) and high quality restaurant could open in Park Slope, let alone that stretch of 5th ave. So for us old timers to hear that the location is associated with the word "costly" is ironic. But you are probably right!

                            1. re: carfreeinla

                              I've never lived there but growing up I remember my parents taking me to Snooky's. They liked their salads. :-) When I was older, it seemed as though half the area was lined with beautiful brownstones and the other half was 'Red lined' I don't know when/why it became (gag) "Trendy." and the real estate so over the top.. Now we're seeing it happen in Greenpoint and the Williamsburg Bridge area. Once they are no longer the 'Neighborhood du Jour I wonder if many of the restaurants there will go the way of Tempo?

                              1. re: Tay

                                When I was 18, when one could drink legally at 18, my friends and I used to commute from Midwood to the Slope to barhop. There were as many bars in 1974 as there were realtors in the '90s. The Iron Horse in that eyesore at 2nd Street that the owners don't seem to be doing anything with, Minsky's, where Miracle Grill now is, and three bars within 1/2 block from the corner of Garfield toward Carroll--City Lights (now a realtor), The Coach (I think now either part of D'Vine Taste or Back to the Land) and Snooky's (now, but apparently not for long, Elementi). And we used also go to The Gaslight, which was a little more divey, at Berkeley (either Mr. Wonton or Oshima now). North of Union was considered a bit dicey, as was south of 9th St. and west of 7th Avenue. It was funny looking at the recent 40th Anniversary issue of New York magazine, where they had a piece about Park Slope being a new destination for urban pioneers, but that they had to be able to pay cash because of redlining by the banks.

                                1. re: Peter Cherches

                                  Ahh, Snooky's in the 70's. We used to walk up the hill from President & Nevins to drink there. And being 18 was a mere technicality. It was the place that everyone went to before they hit the Bay Ridge discos.

                              2. re: carfreeinla

                                "So for us old timers to hear that the location is associated with the word "costly" is ironic".

                                Don't you live in Bay Ridge carfreeinla?

                                1. re: bklyndoc

                                  Now. But I spent over 20 years in the Slope.

                            2. re: Steve R

                              I think Park Slope is simply oversaturated with restaurants at this point.
                              Its just a shame that one of the best, perhaps THE best is the one that is closing, rather than some of the mediocrities.Tempo was not a casual place, the sort of place you might think of just drifting into. The last time we went to AlDiLa, we considered Tempo, but my girls hadnt been to AldiLa before so we went there. It was very good with delicious wines, but crowded and a bit noisy, with much less of a selection than Tempo. Afterward, I wished we had been to Tempo instead. Now I particularly wish that.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                And I thought it was SO comfortable - not stuffy at all and absolutely a place to drift into..
                                I'm back to my original post's premise: slopers are reverse snobs - lovely service and ambience is "too much" for them and Tempo was thought of as a special occasion place when it was truly a great "any night" restaurant appropriate for an upscale neighborhood and no more expensive than al di la or stone park.

                                1. re: Roxy9

                                  seems to me the only snob here is Roxy. As your original reply seems to be directed to me, since I was the one who said I felt Tempo was a special occasion place, let me clarify a few things. First of all, I don't live in the Slope now--so I'm not a "Boho sloper"--I live in Windsor Terrace. If that makes any difference--maybe not. Second of all, I did live in the Slope from about 1972 till about 1986, so I am of the "old guard". Third, you misunderstood completely when I said that I felt Tempo was a "special occasion place"...not that it was "too much" for me, or stuffy or uncomfortable---far from it!!! but that it was "special" in the best of the sense of that word---a place that you *saved* for special occasions, because it WAS so comfortable, so comforting-- so that it would always remain special and not be just "another night out". Sorry, I don't see anything wron--or snobby--with that.

                                  I don't think there's anything to me that says "snobby" more than making generalizations about other people. I am not one to get into flame wars online but I just felt I had to defend myself--and Jen, who is one of the folks here who contribute so much.

                                  Anyway, I just got back from Tempo and it was indeed a wonderful, truly special evening, we were conversing with everyone at all the tables around us and everyone was really in shock and denial and could only talk about what a void will be left by Tempo's passing. We had a wonderful talk with Michael who assured us that he'd be in touch (as we are on their mailing list) and let us know where he ends up. I'm sorry for you if you think that's snobby. I'm just really happy we got to eat there one last time--although sad never to have those Duck Pastilla rolls again :-(

                                  1. re: jinx

                                    we agree. "it was SO comfortable" which was my only point - again, it was in my view a "drift into" kinda place). And we agree that it's so sad that they're closing. I was not responding to your post (and yes, I am so heartbroken about the closing and yes, I am generalizing about slopers, of which I am one - but I stand by my generalizations). I'm glad you had a great meal tonight and I'm sorry that neither of us can go back next week and that more slopers didn't enjoy it on a regular basis like we did.
                                    PS: I can't understand your statement: "I'm sorry if you think that's snobby" re: you being on the mailing-list, so I won't respond. But, in any event, I raise my glass to Tempo for all the wonderful meals we both have had there.

                                    1. re: Roxy9

                                      "I raise my glass to Tempo for all the wonderful meals we both have had there."
                                      we agree--I'll drink to that! :)

                                      1. re: jinx

                                        I raise my glass to Robert and Michael for creating such a wonderful dining experience so close to home.

                                        Their restaurant savvy and expertise made everything seem so seamless and effortless.

                                        Last night we had the last of many, many wonderful dinners. Celebration dinners, family dinners, and just wonderful dinners for no special reason at all.

                                        The food, as always was excellent. The service correct, polite, and gracious.

                                        As Robert and Michael visited with their customers, one got the feeling again that TEMPO was a labor of love. They were the most gracious attentive hosts, and carried on under very difficult times.

                                        We wish them success and Godspeed in any new venturew they undertake.

                                        If only there were more restaurantas like TEMPO.

                      2. I am not a park slope resident, but travel to park slope regularly to dine at Tempo. I consider myself to be friends of the owners, and have been a huge fan of their efforts since they opened. I will miss the duck pastille rolls immensely! I will also miss the warm and friendly, professional, courteous and knowledgeable staff!
                        Also, I don't drink alcohol, yet was never made to feel that I was in any way slighting their efforts by not ordering a wine. They were just as happy to accommodate me with a non alcoholic beverage.
                        I wish Michael and Robert the best in their next endeavors, and for my sake hope that it is another restaurant - - not necessarily in park slope though.

                        1. As I said, I have long been a fan of Tempo. There was a stretch were we were going at least once a month, if not more. I always thought it was the best restaurant in the Slope, and I mentioned it numerous times here. (I still don't get the mad love for Al Di La).

                          However, I see two things as being instrumental in the demise of Tempo (I know that these two things caused me to go less and less in the past 6-8 months):

                          1. The elimination of the prix fix. I remember when they first eliminated the prix fix and Robert explained why they had to do it (economics) and that the new pricing structure was "aggressive" (which it was.) In truth, the all al a carte structure generally yielded the same total bill as when the prix fix was in effect, and in fact could be less because you were no longer tied to three courses. HOWEVER, for whatever reason, the al a carte structure FELT like it was more expensive. There is a perception of value often associated with prix fix (especially one as reasonable as when it was first instituted at Tempo). And regardless of what the actual numbers may tell you, I believe that this perception is hard to overcome.

                          2. The menu felt a little bit stagnant. I know they changed items -- often it was replacing one item at a time, rather than a complete overhaul every season. And, in general, the items on the menu were all quite delicious. However, this relatively static menu, coupled with the lack of daily specials, meant that you were not often going to be surprised by a visit to Tempo. It was an extremely comfortable place, very warm and friendly, and delicious -- but if you went to often, it just did not wow over time. I would find myself excited to go and be like, I know I am going to order the usual -- but then when I got there I found myself wishing I did not HAVE to get the usual, but could get something UNUSUAL.. Again, maybe this isn't fair, but I think its there. (This is the reason I don't find myself yearning to go to Canaille much anymore, yet I am always eager to go to Noodle Pudding).

                          And, I don't wonder if maybe the kitchen felt this was a problem too, because the last few times we went, my wife and I both felt that the dishes lacked a little something that they used to -- almost as if the kitchen were getting bored of preparing these same dishes.

                          Couple that with the fact that the space they usually seemed to be too big for their needs (nice and spacious, to be sure) and I think that this was bound to happen.

                          Again, this is a true loss for the neighborhood (and this BS about bo-bo PSers is ludicrous), and I will take my share of the blame for foresaking Tempo for new and more exciting places in recent months, but I can't help but think that more could have been done to keep the place vital.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: elecsheep9

                            Thank you for your intelligent, thoughtful and well presented posting. :-)

                          2. I have been trying to make reservations for the 13th (an unlucky day???) for several days now and I couldn't get through to anyone. I finally checked this board to see if anyone else was having a problem and learned the sad news. Bah! Now I can't even figure out where else equivalent to go this Saturday.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: KingsKetz

                              Try CONVIVIUM. We had dinner there last week and it was wonderful.

                              1. re: Fleur

                                That's funny...that's where I've decided to go. It is my favorite restaurant in the Slope and in general. But it's a price point that fairly above where Tempo was at the end. Thanks for the suggestion, Fleur.

                                1. re: KingsKetz

                                  I am so disappointed to hear about Tempo's closing. My wife and I always thought it was one of the best and most consistent restaurants in Park Slope. However, I have to say that, starting about a year ago, I started to worry that it would close. From my perspective, as someone who likes to eat out but is not in the restaurant business, the following always struck me as mistakes:

                                  1) Stagnant Menu. Particularly given the recent trend towards using seasonal ingredients, restaurants that are trying to deliver a fine dining experience (as opposed to comfort food or food that is cheap and tasty but not necessarily refined, both of which are great but not what Tempo was going for) need to make some attempt to vary the menu and use seasonal ingredients, I felt that Tempo fell short in that regard.

                                  2) Fanatical dedication to concept - I thought that the main dining room at Tempo was gracious, if a little staid but I liked it. The second dining room was always a mistake. When we were seated in there I felt like we were in a different restaurant because there would only be 2-3 tables occupied. Part of the reason they had to do this, in my opinion, is that the main dining room's layout did not allow for enough tables. However, the second dining room was not nearly as nice and really took away from the ambience.

                                  It isn't all doom and gloom, Al di La and Blue Ribbon continue to pack them in, as do several other restaurants on 5th including Get Fresh and Beer Table (although it isn't strictly speaking a restaurant) which recently added a dinner menu. The restaurant business is a tough one and kudos to Tempo for surviving and thriving for as long as it did. I suspect that the recent downturn will bring commercial rents down and maybe we will see more restaurants like Franny's and James open along 5th Avenue. I think there is room for restaurants that have the vibes of these two restaurants in Park Slope.