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Yet Another Steak House

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The Herald reports that a "Eddie Merlot's" steak house is planning to open in the Westin by the convention center in 2014. That will make 3 steak houses in the Seaport area -- them, DelFrisco's and Morton's. They are a small chain:

http://www.eddiemerlots.com/

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  1. 4 if you count the Smith and Wollensky's that's technically not in the Seaport but is about 100 yards or so away.

    Interesting that according to the Herald, they claim to serve 75 different wines by the glass. Anyone else in town serve that many? I know quality is not always quantity and with this location they are clearly angling for the tourist/convention crowd.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gordough

      I sure hope they have an inert-gas system. Fleming's claims to offer 100 wines by the glass, but after being served 6 or 7 spoiled BTG wines there, I've stopped acknowledging its claim to be a wine bar.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    2. With Smith & Wollensky and Umbria Prime just across the Channel. Mooo...., Ruth's Chris, the still-struggling original S&W, Fleming's, Davio's, Grill 23, Abe & Louie's, Met Club, Fogo de Chao, and Capital Grille aren't much further away.

      Does anyone else find the name "Eddie Merlot's" vaguely depressing? Boston will be their tenth outlet, the first outside the Rust Belt.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      29 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        They are opening one in Denver before the Boston location will open. But yeah, the name is awful. Was Jimmy Chardonnay's already taken?

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Sounds like Guy Fieri was consulting.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Eddie Merlot is the nickname of someone on a corporate board of directors. He loved the merlot a lot.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                the name is awful and just makes me think of those super sad geiko (?) commercials with eddie money.

                am beginning to wonder if we have more steakhouses per square foot than any other city? (add back in the palm, which is supposedly reopening in international place or some such.)

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Why is it that Boston can support so many steakhouses? Is it the collective poor taste of the upper classes?

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    lol, i forgot! bogie's inside jm curley's. a micro-steakhouse, but still a steakhouse.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Micro is right: all of 18 seats when packed to the gills, including the bar.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  Steakhouses are a marker of male travel. They signify the number of business trips and particularly conventions men attend in Boston. That they cluster near the convention center makes absolute sense.

                  Sad thing to me is how unimaginative they are. My understanding is the economics of the meat drives the menu: it costs to keep the meat pipeline filled so you can't put on dishes that cost too much less because those will draw diners from the price points the place needs to keep the meat flowing. So you get over-priced non-steak meals to drive people to steak.

                  1. re: lergnom

                    "Steakhouses are a marker of male travel"

                    ~~~~

                    not just male travel, but business males in general. we are a city thick with legal and financial types too, not just out-of-towners wanting to play it safe. i have worked as a sommelier at two of the biggest steakhouses here in boston and mon-thurs night dinners are paid with expense account credit cards 85+%.

                    nothing says he-man like a 2-lb steak on a plate. (of course our regulars suffer inordinately from heart attacks at relatively young ages too, lol.)

                    food cost on prime steaks is ridiculous, often north of 40%, so yeah, there's your $12 bowl of mashed potatoes and $6 cappuccinos. these places are not "driving" people to steak, people are there simply for that. lamb chops and veal chops and such, even salmon, account for less than 5% of sales. trust me, they'd be thrilled if more people wanted salmon. food cost on that is in single digits.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Cost per item... Menu Price.. Food Cost.. Profit
                      Chicken $4.00... $12.25... 33%... $8.25
                      Steak $20.00... $50.00... 40%... $30.00

                      1. re: T.Clark

                        am not quite sure what your point is exactly or at what steakhouse you can order chicken for $12?

                        i already said food cost on the non-steak entrees is cheap, but they are a very small percentage of sales.

                        1. re: T.Clark

                          You are leaving a large part out between food cost and profit, it's called 'overhead'. You know things like paying the lease, paying employee's, turning on the lights, funiture, inventory etc.

                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                          That assumes they serve prime beef, which is not a given as many have found the steakhouse atmosphere and choice beef sell just as well (including ones which speak about their "wet aging process"). BTW, T. Clark's costs below are probably 1/3 low for the material cost of a 12oz dry aged prime steak and there is more capital involved in cooking it than a plate of potatoes.

                          1. re: itaunas

                            i'm fully aware of overhead and actual costs of items.

                            my steakhouse experience is in places that do serve prime beef and they provide the context for my comments. it's not the non-steak entrees that help balance costs because so few are served, but the spendy sides and desserts certainly do. that souffle they charge $20 for? cost on that is literally pennies.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              The point is that there is a lot of profit in high check average places like steak houses. Just saying that their food cost is 40+ percent doesn't tell the story of real costs versus ideal cost (30%). I would rather sell 1 steak at a 40% food cost and make $30 than sell twice the amount of chicken for less profit.

                              My post isn't about prime vs. choice vs. wet age vs dry vs. chicken, it's about the mis-representation of food costs and how they affect a bottom line. When a steak house sells one steak they are making a profit even at a high food cost, if they sell two sides and a soufflé then thats the gravy of a high check average place. A person selling wine should embrace the idea of higher cost with a higher return.

                              1. re: T.Clark

                                The real profit items are liquor, beer, wine and even soft drinks.

                                1. re: treb

                                  How many soft drinks do you need to sell to clear $30 profit?

                                  1. re: T.Clark

                                    Your $30 profit depiction is incorrect, it fails to include overhead, learn the business. I've been to many restaurants, not even high-end, where coke is between $3 and $4 and there are no free refills. That can add up fast.

                                    1. re: treb

                                      My depiction has nothing to do with overhead. It has to do with contribution to bottom line. The myth is that a high food cost average is bad, when in fact it's not always bad, the steak house is an example. McDonalds has very low food cost which is good because proportionately (as a % of pbit) their labor cost is very high.

                                      1. re: T.Clark

                                        As a general rule of sound restaurant business, if you're above 40% in food cost, be ready to close the doors.

                                2. re: T.Clark

                                  and at 40-50% cost, if that steak needs to be re-cooked profit on that dish goes up in smoke. it happens -- grill guys aren't infallible.

                                  if any restaurant ISN'T making a profit on each dish (by your math) they are doing it wrong.

                                  as for wine, even in expense-account-la-la-land, a place will sell many more $100 bottles of napa cab than $1000 bottles of bordeaux, and the mark-up on the former is obviously higher than than on the latter. you can sell those with your eyes closed, while the pricey bottles may sit for months, even years. so that cakebread krap that flies out the door is helping control my inventory costs while a petrus or a pin is languishing. it's not as simple as i can make $60 on this bottle or $500 on that one.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    I'm sorry I started this subthread. Arguments always start. My point was that steakhouses don't offer great alternatives to steak because if they sell really great pasta for $21 the overall price point of the restaurant moves south. Sure they sell chicken and some fish and they need to move that - and they tend to over-charge for those because the pricing looks cheaper versus meat - but they can't afford to de-emphasize the meat so much that the focus of the restaurant shifts away from it. Then people aren't ordering as much meat and as much wine and it becomes more a restaurant than an expense account boost. But I don't think arguing about this is necessary.

                                    1. re: lergnom

                                      This is not arguing, it's great banter, as for pasta prices, better check Via Matta, pretty much all of their pastas are mid 20's or higher. Personally, I find most steakhouses offer a selection of chic, fish and even a veggie offering to accommodate most preferences.

                                      1. re: lergnom

                                        I'm sorry I started this subthread. Arguments always start.

                                        ~~~~

                                        nobody is arguing. :) we all reserve the right to have differing perspectives. please know VERY few of those eating at a steakhouse WANT an alternative to the beef, lol. the lower pricing doesn't make the chicken or fish more attractive. most are there to blow dough. it may seem weird to you or me, but it's clearly a successful business model. further, if they de-emphasized the beef, it would no longer be a steakhouse, ya know?

                                    2. re: T.Clark

                                      T.Clark - Your point is entirely correct.

                                      I was doing analytics at a locally headquartered seafood chain (not very well thought of at Chow), and I had the hardest time explaining that they were measuring and rewarding their chefs/GMs/ and District Managers using the wrong metric. Food Cost % was a/the major metric. They'd hammer everyone on it, and bonus off of it. As the metric became more and more scrutinized, the menu item mix changed and everyone started pushing chicken and low end items. It was a bear to get them to see that they needed to be pushing (and incentivising) gross profit $ per guest, rather than food cost.

                                      1. re: NE_Wombat

                                        Hey wombat... great point.

                                        I don't give a hoot what my cost of goods is as long as my gross profit per customer in real terms is good and I'm not holding on to a huge inventory in order to be able to make that number... Business 101.

                                        1. re: NE_Wombat

                                          That's all I was trying to say. Thank you for putting it in better context than I could.

                              2. I can't say enough how much I REALLY dislike the steakhouse format of dining. It really steams me to pay like $35 for just a white plate with meat on it, and nothing else, then have to pay extra for sides that tend to be subpar versions of things I can make myself. Creamed spinach needs to be put out to pasture as a side.