Koo Zee Doo to close July 14th
This bit is hopeful though:
"The couple plans to take a step back and resurface elsewhere". *
I loved Koo Zee Doo but I have to admit I didn't go there nearly as often as I recommended it here. That was partly because of the location and partly because of the mostly huge, family-style plates, which made it a little hard to go there with a party of two. I always had to plan to go with a party of at least four to feel like it was worth the trip. I hope they find a new space soon.
* I suggest East Passyunk!
Very sad news.
But KZD is another one of those places that I immediately started worrying about whether it had a viable business model.
Everyone includes it on their list of "favorite BYOBs", but sadly no one ever actually seems to eat there (including me). There is so much great BYOB competition in Philly. Their location also doesn't help, and if you don't have the location (or very low costs, which it sounds like was an issue), you really need to break into the realm of a "destination restaurant", which they did not. Just a wonderfully unique BYOB that I was constantly recommending, but never actually going to.
It also doesn't help that those huge serving sizes scare off dining couples.
Really hope they open a new place eventually.
I see this as part of a trend where a lot of landlords are raising rent because they have not been able to over the last five years.
I almost think restaurants may be better off either a) closing mondays and tuesdays to save costs, or getting a liquor license which can really drive profit.
I wonder if East Passyunk rents have skyrocketed... where is the next East Passyunk?
What I am afraid of is that the BYOB business model is going to die. We have seen several BYOBs get licenses recently.
The margins on just food are so slim that the owner(s) really have no choice but to be working their ass off every day... I can see getting burned out after a few years.
So you think Fishtown has enough of a concentration of people to drive innovation and new restaurants?
I almost see Northern Liberties withering on the vine.. lots of places have closed around there.
Will be interesting to watch.
I personally hope they open in Bella Vista. I think that area has enough concentration of people, is close enough to South street, and can drive business. Have no idea what commercial rents are like there verus N.L verus Fishtown versus East Passyunk...
Steven Starr has two hugely successful places in Fishtown and is rumored to be opening a third... you don't see any big-name restaurateurs in NoLibs... says to me the issue is landlords, not the market. Fishtown/NoLibs is dense and is getting denser every day, as is South Kensington. E Passyunk thirves because people come from all over the region to eat there, Fishtown already is teeming with nonresidents on weekends. Anyway just a guess, I think Fishtown will only support very casual places for a while -- Pickled Heron is not doing well -- but innovative casual spots, definitely.
The business model isn't "young chef opens his first restaurant on a shoestring without a liquor license". That's only half a business model, since it is apparently hard to turn a profit with the high rents plus all the competition for dining dollars in Philly these days.
The real BYOB business model is to do that, impress people, and then boot-strap that into getting a liquor license (Fond) or expanding into non-BYOBs (Chip Roman).
As sad as it is to see our favorite BYOBs get liquor licenses for those of us who prefer to dine that way, we should be happy that our favorite chefs are doing well enough to do that and we can still continue to enjoy them.
Fortunately, most places that get liquor licenses will still allow you to BYOB with corkage, so it's not like they actually died and went into the great beyond (it's more like they won MegaMillions and stopped returning your phone calls!).