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Speck opening date?

Anyone in the know on when Speck plans to open its doors? Their facebook page has been more active lately, but calls and e-mails go unanswered.

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  1. I suspect the answer is "When it's done"... I don't know what the original opening date was supposed to be but the most recent one I heard was July, which obviously isn't happening, if the photos on Shola's blog are up to date (http://blog.sholaolunloyo.com/studiok...). From that pic, it looks like they've got another few weeks to go, at least: none of the cooking equipment seems to be installed yet. That same blog post mentions that "Studiokitchen dinners with start at the kitchen counter in September.", so I guess they plan to be open some time in September. Too late for your August visit, unfortunately, but who knows what will happen.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Buckethead

      Nearly a year ago, I said I wasn't holding my breath for Speck to happen: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6996... I'm sorry that I was correct.

      Why didn't it work? Foodbooz is now reporting that, at the last minute, Shola balked at Blatstein's demand that Shola sign over rights to Shola's future books and restaurant deals. It's not surprising that Shola refused. I just can't understand how this project could have gotten so far along without having a contract in place.

      The bottom line is that when you have two strong, intelligent, talented people with big egos, it's very hard for them to work together. As a result, this project was doomed from the beginning. It's a pity that so much time, money, and energy was wasted and that we still don't have a place to enjoy Shola's cooking.

    2. Looks to be at least 6 more weeks--I just saw this on Grub Street:

      http://philadelphia.grubstreet.com/20...

      1. As the reservation site is down, any ideas on when it will open. Has been 8 weeks since this last post

        3 Replies
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          Grub Street reported yesterday that it's opening was "imminent." I doubt it'll open before the new year now.

          1. re: gaffk

            Actually all Grub Street said was that Shola's blog "suggests an opening could be imminent", which has been true for at least a month now. Foobooz had an item today saying they had passed health inspection, but the link given doesn't say that.

            According to Speck's website though, it "Opened in 2010".

        2. I got this in my email today, it means nothing as far as when they'll open, but at least it means they are still planning on opening..

          http://blog.zagat.com/sneak-peek-vide...

          1. Hey all, just thought I'd share this link to the trials and tribulations Speck has been through...

            http://blog.sholaolunloyo.com/studiok...

            1. In the linked Q&A Shola provides more info on Speck's opening.

              http://blog.sholaolunloyo.com/studiok...

              1. Not looking good, friends...

                “it seems that the Blatstein-Olunloyo partnership is no more, with the landlord locking the chef out of the restaurant, which was – in theory – finally set to open... 'Their relationship has gone south now that they have this beautiful $1 million restaurant that Shola has been locked out of…'"

                Link:
                http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/2011/...

                7 Replies
                1. re: barryg

                  I heard rumors of this, sad to see it confirmed. I wonder what happened, exactly.

                  1. re: Buckethead

                    That's a shame. It seems like he ran into so many problems and it's so close to opening (i was speculating any day because i finally saw dishes stacked up in the window between the kitchen and the dining area -- yes, i live nearby and i'm creepy and peer in).

                    not surprising coming from mr. blatstein... after what went down at swift half and all...

                      1. re: barryg

                        Well Mr. B raised their rent quite a bit and they would have no part in it. I imagine that Swift Half didn't do quite as well as PYT but I always liked the spot since the staff was laid back and it always had somewhat of a crowd in there. So what I heard was when the owners heard about the rent increase, they called Tower Inv.'s bluff like no way will you kick us out, but then, as time came closer, Tower didn't lower the rent and no contract was signed and, well, suprise surprise NYE was the last night for Swift Half.

                        Too bad, although I'm curious about the new place in there. I won't go until I hear back from someone else about it since the name sounds like it belongs with the likes of Finnegans Wake/McFaddens

                    1. re: Buckethead

                      Indeed, waiting to hear more about what actually happened. Of course getting the truth amidst all the rumors is likely not to be easy...

                      1. re: sockii

                        It is strange from this vantage point, as I have been reading his almost daily blog posts and there isn't a peep about troubles. I am really disappointed.

                        1. re: asmith

                          Well given that there was an entire blog a couple months ago about an incredible amount of problems, it doesn't seem totally unlikely that he'd stop now that it may have gotten personal or legal.

                  2. It would appear that Speck is well and truly dead, the space has been leased and will become an additional location of Raw, the sushi place:

                    http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/2011/...

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Buckethead

                      Free Shola! Re-Speck!

                      LOL, I can't tell if this is serious or someone just has too much time on their hands:

                      http://www.cafepress.com/PhillyFoodSh...

                      1. re: ftarazu

                        LOL why does the women's shirt cost more than the men's?

                        I was really disappointed to learn another mediocre sushi restaurant is going into the space... the Piazza has not achieved what it was striving to become.. a culinary destination.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          Besides Shola, did they even try? Every other place they brought in was run by inexperienced restauranteurs (Darling's at full service, Swift Half at more than one location). In the case of Swift Half the place was designed and built before the operator was brought on, hardly a way to build a destination restaurant. In any case your gastropub better be superb to be a draw in that neighborhood. Good Dog isn't (burger excluded), and Swift Half certainly wasn't.

                          PYT succeeds as a place to go out more than as a restaurant and again was opened with an inexperienced restauranteur, though in this case it worked out well. Apollinaire was a legitimate attempt I suppose but it is not unique enough to be a major draw.

                          Bar Ferdinand and El Camino Real across the street succeed as destinations, the latter more for a good time, the former for the food. That development, Liberties Walk, is also Bart Blatstein so it's not like he strikes out all the time. If they had a strategy to build a culinary destination they really missed the boat.

                          The shopping sucks too, but that is for a different board.

                          1. re: barryg

                            Well the rumors suggested that after Shola, Garces, Kevin Sbraga, among others looked at the space but passed. I suspect it was less the space than the landlord that made the deal not look good.

                            Northern Liberties has so much promise... it could be world class.. right now its also ran. If the Plaza were run well, it could be fantastic. (Caveat, I know nothing about the financials about what it took to buld the Piazza.. that could be the yoke around the landlords neck that sinks everything.... )

                            1. re: cwdonald

                              It's no secret that BB is a heavy handed landlord, but I think that was absolutely needed to bring retail before the critical mass existed (see also Tony Goldman and 13th Street). I can imagine some people just didn't want to agree to the terms. Plus, Garces (and the like) must have investors, right? So, he just can't jump into deals without permission.

                              It's probably better suited to an existing small operation that wants to expand, but needs someone else to absorb some of the risk, even if it means handing over some of the profit.

                              1. re: cwdonald

                                I agree with you that i don't think it's a coincidence that there are no credible retailers and no credible restauranteurs/restaurant groups in the Piazza.

                              2. re: barryg

                                I think the Swift Half had a ton of potential if it had a little more time to figure things out. It certainly strove to be a more significant restaurant than whatever is there now. To me, having the Swift Half and Speck at that location would have been much more of a draw than Gunner's Run (what a joke) and Raw (meh), and I think that's the point that cwdonald was trying to make.

                                1. re: Cheesesteak

                                  Yea I'm not really disagreeing, just extending it by saying that if they really intended Piazza is be a significant dining draw they made pretty poor decisions from day one, and working with Shola may have been one of them (again--great chef but inexperienced restauranteur). So many poor decisions that I question whether a being dining destination is really a goal they have.

                        2. There's a good article on Phillymag about the Speck debacle:

                          http://www.phillymag.com/restaurants/...

                          Of course, Shola refused to be interviewed for it or even respond to fact-checking inquiries, so the article is a little one-sided as a result.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Buckethead

                            It's pretty good, overall, though is it just me or was there a bit of a snide attitude in it toward not just Shola but some of his fans? (Bringing up the egullet thread and all...)

                            Personally, no I don't think Shola's a food "god" beyond criticism. But i enjoyed a few of the best meals of my life at StudioKitchen, even if I had some reservations he could ever translate the concept and experience to a restaurant. The points about the problems of perfectionism in the article are well made. But I'm put off by the sense of Schadenfreude that seems to permeate so much of the commentary about Speck (and Shola's?) failure. Far too many seem thrilled about the drama than would ever care about the food.