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Another One Bites the Dust, or...

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let's just say the fabric is getting very frayed.

Burlap shutters on June 10th and will morph into another Searsucker

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  1. Too far from the racetrack for the cowboy theme - I think that the "Searsucker" concept is a better match for the Del Mar Highlands.

    1. Pretty soon, it'll be threads or rags!

      19 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        I'm thinking more along the lines of the tale of the emperor...

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Exactly!

        2. re: cstr

          May I ask question or two or three?

          I don't watch Top Chef and I have never been to any of his restaurants,

          Is he dissed for not serving good food?

          Is the service at his restaurants lacking?

          Is the pricing out of line for the satisfaction factor?

          The monickers for his restaurants appeal to me as clever, a sly theme joke; but I would never would be chose to go there based on the name of the place.

          1. re: Gypsy Jan

            I, for one, like Searsucker.

            Good esp. for happy hour (burger and calamari are must gets) and the lunch entrees -- while not rock-your-world revelatory -- is better than what you will generally find for that price-point in/around the DTSD area.

            People here who bash Searsucker and/or Malarkey are doing it more because of his association with his business partner (Brennan) and the fact that his restaurants tend to be more "style than substance" than most people on this board can stomach -- and the fact that he (and Brennan) is succeeding at making "style over substance" work so well.

            It's like wanting Shakespeare, but instead you get a box full of Danielle Steel's bestsellers.

            I, for one, really dig an afternoon of Fifty Shades of Grey instead of another reading of Romeo & Juliet.

            Never let politics get in the way of your food choices. But that's just me.

            Flame away.

            1. re: Gypsy Jan

              I actually agree with Ipse on the style over substance assessment. The restaurants aren't about the food as much as they are about being hip, trendy places for people to meet and spend their $$$. There is nothing wrong with that, those dollars have to be spent in order for the place to survive ;-)

              Brian Malarkey is very good at self promotion which I think puts some people on this board off. For others it's that his "style" seems a little too contrived and TV-ready. He's actually a pretty good cook, but there are quite a few others here locally who are just as good, or better, who aren't into being that high profile, media darling. I think some of the issues do stem from a perception - real or imagined - that Malarkey is riding off his media image and not his talent.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                "The restaurants aren't about the food as much as they are about being hip, trendy places for people to meet and spend their $$$." If a restaurant is not about the food, then why bother? If I want ambiance, I'll open a good bottle of vintage red and sit on my lanai and watch the waves come in. I guess I am beyond hip, trendy and burning C notes to look cool in front of the cougars!

                1. re: cstr

                  Cuisine = art.

                  Restaurants = business.

                  1. re: Fake Name

                    Restaurants = business, which is why SD has long threads about closing restaurants! His latest place didn't last a year, great business plan don't you think.

                    1. re: cstr

                      Certainly better than mine- was it better than yours?

                      I suspect he (and his investors) made a fair amount of money during that period- either actively (salary) or passively (via popularity and additional opportunities).

                      Guys, this is a business, like any other. It exists to bring in money, not to bring us good food or raise our understanding of life. It is not intended to give us a warm, calm place to exchange conversation, nor help us bond with our friends and families. It does not bring us closer to a nonspecifichigherpower, nor does it enhance our sense of global conciousness.

                      Places like these (and most places we discuss here) are intended to motivate us to buy alcoholic beverages on which the markup is significant. That's it- get us to buy cocktails, beer and wine. Everything else is ancillary to that goal, including the food. The food is there to give us something else to do while we consume the alcohol on which the markup is significant.

                      We, and most of the culinary industry about which we wax rhapsodically, have invented the entire foodie paradigm around the carrot, not the stick.

                      Business- yes, it's closing or changing concept. I suspect it's not because it's losing money, but more likely *not making enough money fast enough*.

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        The restaurant business does not cater to Chowhounds.

                        We are lucky when by happenstance or sheer blind luck when a restaurant falls into a Chowhound orbit.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I know of a deli that does, but we aren't allowed to mention its name here.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Maybe like the cycle of Haley's Comet!

                          2. re: Fake Name

                            The UT article had a quote from Brennan that said that Burlap was getting away from the food, and they wanted to refocus. I see no reason why that comment was genuine.

                            I know that Del Mar Highlands might as well be Alaska for Fakey, but how many of you frequent that area? We are by that mall on occasion, and when there around dinner time I'd never noticed Burlap not being busy. I think not making enough money fast enough might have nailed it.

                            1. re: Fake Name

                              "That's it- get us to buy cocktails, beer and wine" I agree within the scope of the business model and target group that, if you have 'nothing special' to offer on the food front, you practically give it away to get the booze business. However on the other side of the model and target group, I'd rather go for the special food offerings, make a profit and then add to the bottom line with supplemental purchases of liquor, wine etc. Lastly, I pity the investors, there's a lot of up front costs to open a place, can't believe they received much, if anything back this early in the game.

                              1. re: cstr

                                What makes you think the investors in Burlap were cut out in its metamorphosis to another Searsucker? Or were you speaking in general, cstr, and not about this particular instance?

                                1. re: RB Hound

                                  didn't say they were cut out, just said I can't believe they received much this early in the game.

                              2. re: Fake Name

                                Tons of truth in this post, which reminds me why Fake Name is such a valuable part of the SD board.

                      2. re: Gypsy Jan

                        I largely agree with Ipse and DD's summaries, and find myself falling into that group. My personal opinion of the fabric empire (having dined at 3 of them) is that it is an overly PR hyped, personality/style driven concept that ignores the quality of its food. Mr. Malarkey supposedly moved to Point Loma so that he could oversee and personally cook the food at Gabardine, yet he is traveling so much for promotion that I believe it is a stretch to say that he is cooking on a daily basis. Not that it matters anyway, IMHO the food at Gabby's has not been interesting or consistent since Chad White parted ways with the restaurant. I love the design and feel of Herringbone and want to love the place, but find the prices sky-high (dinner entrees even surpass the $$ mark of Amaya), and the talent level of the chef that they hired to run the place is sorely lacking (tough, rubbery pizza crust, greasy limp crab cakes and french fries, over-cooked fish and extremely salty sauces).

                        Lastly, on a completely personal note, I have no respect for the business ethics that Mr. Brennan has demonstrated in this market. Non-payment of construction contractors, backing out of partnerships and contractual agreements that have resulted in numerous lawsuits, and the casual commentary about employee benefits for his workers - going so far to say that they will carefully measure the size of all future restaurant sites so that they will not be required to hire the number of employees that would meet the minimum federal guidelines for mandatory healthcare benefits.

                        On many levels, this is not a business model that I can support.

                        1. re: foodiechick

                          Yes, to all of the above

                    2. No big loss to the dining community.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                        Not really a loss - they are only going to take a week to transform from Burlap to Searsucker.

                        1. re: RB Hound

                          Closing June 10 and reopening July 17 (opening day for Del Mar Racing Season). More than a month.

                          1. re: Cathy

                            Gosh, you'd think I would be able to distinct "July" from "June". One week would have been pretty much impossible for any sort of interior work. Sigh...

                      2. They are doing what we often talk about on this board - just looking at restaurants as businesses and not so much at places with very unique and ambitous dishes and so they had several "brands" to test over the last few years and are now eliminating the ones which don't give the expected profit. There is nothing wrong in focusing on the parts of a business which work best. And the food we had at Herringbone and from Malarkey was actually not bad. (And yes, he is good at self promotion but in todays world this is part of the business skills you need to survive and there are many restaurants in SD and anywhere else with very respected chefs who do the same but in their cases it is always regarded as "clever" and "business savvy"

                        1. More importantly is that they are focusing on a concept that has the widest appeal and using that as a template to expand. No different than a Katsuya or Puck enterprise.

                          Focus on what works and duplicate. Rinse and repeat.

                          1. Wasn't Burlap the cougar den?

                            Gives 'Saddle Up Cowboys' a whole new meaning for their motto.

                            1. And yet more change within the quickly fraying fabric empire

                              http://www.sandiegoville.com/2013/06/...

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                Another loss for the fedora set

                                (Apologies to CH mods, they do not seem to like my lame attempts at chow humor.).

                                1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                  Just the facts, ma'am.

                                  1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                    The real loss for the fedora set is that apparently Malarkey has no actual plans to open a Muslin Terrace.

                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      not again...

                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                    The UT had an article today, with more information. It actually pretty much lays things out. Nothing surprising, but it's nice to see people actually quoted.

                                    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/J...

                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                      Interesting article, thx for posting it.

                                      Interesting also that all 3 chefs seem to be leaving because of creative differences. It's clear (and clearly stated <gg>) that the Brennan/Malarkey enterprise is set on becoming a chain. In order to be a successful chain they need structure, they need infrastructure and they need to creative power concentrated in 1 or 2 hands, not individual unit chefs.

                                      I think this article made if pretty clear, even though it wasn't so precisely stated, that the Brennan/Malarkey business model was, essentially, "run it up the flagpole and see who salutes". That could explain why they were opening all these seemingly unrelated resto concepts, they had more ideas than 1 restaurant could support, but didn't know which one(s) the public would embrace.

                                      Anxiously awaiting to see the new incarnation of Gingham. On paper at least it sounds more promising than jazzed up cowboy grub

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        We can laugh and criticize all we want, but I'm not all that sure this wasn't (isn't) a good business strategy. What leaves me scratching my head is why they though "Asian Cowboy" would work in Carmel Valley / Del Mar Highlands. Just because a lot of Asian families buy houses there (primarily because of the highly ranked schools) does not mean they're a great target audience. Sheesh.

                                        1. re: RB Hound

                                          Just like I could never figure out why they thought backyard cowboy worked in La Mesa with Gingham. They totally did not understand the location into which they went. If they had gone into, say, Lakeside or Ramona with that concept it might have been a better fit, but I've never associated the greater La Mesa area with "cowboy"...and I've been in and around it most of my life.

                                      2. re: RB Hound

                                        The fedora was a warning.

                                      3. re: DiningDiva

                                        Mr. Malarkey's last name is a fitting metaphor for the company that he and Mr. Brennan run.

                                        1. re: foodiechick

                                          No argument on this end :-D

                                      4. And apparently Amanda Baumgarten the chef at Herringbone is out and Malarkey is coming back to take over there for awhile.

                                        1. This is all so goddamned annoying. It's all so predictable. Person "A" who has a reputation for failed ventures hooks up with Person "B" who was on tv and likes to be photographed and they decide they are going to take the world by storm with these vapid ego-based credentials.

                                          1. Looks like they are betting big in LA - Eater LA reports the rumor that they might go into the Mondrian Hotel with a Herringbone spin off. The monthly lease is described at $100000

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: honkman

                                              That is insane

                                            2. They should all bite the dust! We had dinner at Herringbone this past weekend, and everything was lackluster...except for the cool look, and beautiful olive trees. All the food we had, starters, fish entrees and beverages...was ok, but nothing special. The restaurant was pretty empty, nevertheless the service was unbelievably slow. The price was high...definitely not worth it for pretty uninspired and average food. With the other excellent restaurants in La Jolla (Tapenade, George's, Eddie V's, etc.) at the same or lower price point...and some with wonderful views, I can't see how Herringbone exists. We've had food at least as good and with a wonderful view, even upstairs at George's for much less money. And downstairs at George's which is pretty elegant and has way better food and service, it is only very slightly more expensive than Herringbone. When Herringbone also bites the dust, which it will, it will not be missed!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                But I will miss the olive trees.

                                                1. re: foodiechick

                                                  Me too...they're beautiful!