EDITOR'S UPDATE: Just hours after Andrew wrote this blog post, the last remaining Soul Daddy at MOA announced it had closed.
Soul Daddy is dying. Need proof? Was it ever alive?
Eater reports last week that two of its three locations (New York and Los Angeles) closed after being open for only a month. The chain was created by America’s Next Great Restaurant winner Jamawn Woods, get this, AS THE PRIZE FOR WINNING A REALITY SHOW. . . it was doomed from the start.
The show led us to think that the show’s celebrity judges, including Chipotle founder Steve Ells (Hello, this is the INS), Lorena Garcia (whom I had never heard of until I met her while she was promoting the show in Miami), Curtis Stone (toothsome and annoyingly everywhere chef without stove), and Bobby Flay (talented genius/owner/operator/author/chef ).
The one remaining Soul Daddy sits on the third floor of the Mall of America in Bloomington. I went; it’s boring and the food’s nothing to crow about. Its Soul-less Daddy. I think the judges need to come out here and help this poor guy out. He’s a smart hardworking family man from Detroit who won a prize on a reality show, and it was a Faustian bargain. He didn’t pick his location, and I think all the talk of the support from the judges has withered on the vine. I hear nothing about a second season for ANGR so I assume this fellow is simply stuck with a dying restaurant. Sad. Even sadder is the fact that it was highly publicized that the winner of the show would get the "prize" of a three-unit restaurant chain. In fact all the show materials say that Mr. Woods (or other winner) would receive "an extraordinary prize" of "three restaurants in three cities."
What happened? And do you know of anyone who likes this place? I know Flay well enough to tell you he never saw this coming. He is a great dude, a standup guy, and a shrewd businessman who never would have done this show if he knew it would turn out this way. I don’t mean to impugn the other judges when I say that, it’s just that I don’t know them. Now, on the other hand, the producers of ANGR have some explaining to do.
Jun Bo, the supersized dim sum joint that sat on 494 near the old Menards is closed. They had tax problems and liquor license renewal problems, and last year the Menards people bought the land the resto sat on so that doesn’t help. But mostly it closed because in addition to offering some of the better dim sum in town, its ‘open all night’ policy, and its many cheaply acquired banquet rooms made for strange partnerships with shady promoter types. Mix all that up with live music and plenty of booze, and, you guessed it, lots of visits from the police. I loved the place on Sundays with the family. Guess I should have been going at 2 a.m. on Saturday nights if I wanted to see the real appeal of the joint.
James Beard Award winner Alex Roberts, chef and owner of Restaurant Alma and Brasa, will be July’s featured guest chef at Gather, the new restaurant at Walker Art Center. The Fratelli D’amico are crowd sourcing their specials by inviting guest chefs on site at the new museum restaurant. Guests can sample free tastings of his menu items on July 7, and the two-featured special items will be available on the menu for sale on subsequent Thursday evenings throughout July. The hook moving forward is that on the first Thursday of each month, a newly featured guest chef serves complimentary samples and is on-site to answer questions. It’s a fun idea and a great way to prove out my hypothesis that this restaurant community of ours is very supportive of each other.
Travail is closed for most of July. So go there next month. I am going, for sure. I can’t wait to see what those guys are doing over there but I am psyched about half the stuff I hear about: beef tongue sliders, duck balls from au bon canard, and yes, the Organ Grinder, an offal burger experience that seems to be too good to be true.
If you want to subscribe to an awesome food mag, grab Lucky Peach , the new food magazine from David Chang, Peter Meehan, and McSweeney's —the first issue is devoted to ramen.
James B. Stewart in the NYT rips Tyson Foods in a big way. Reading this made me angrier and angrier. Tyson is emblematic of everything wrong with our food system in America today. I have a column coming out in the August Mpls.St.Paul on this very subject.
I just came back from New Orleans, and wow, is that city ever back on its feet. Not everywhere, mind you, and many neighborhoods got screwed and continue to, but the vibe is sweet again in the Crescent City. From a late night at Vaughan’s to meals at Cochon, Cochon Butcher, August, Herbsainte, Bayona, Mothers, Mahony’s, Parkway, Antoines, Willie Maes Scotch House, Dooky Chase, and more, I was reminded of the central fact about ‘Nawlins: It’s the only city in the world you can taste when someone says its name. Thanks especially to the folks in Bayou Pigeon at Rick’s place and to all of Don’s family in Rayne, you know who you are and you put on an amazing bunch of meals and adventures for us. Thank you.
And you all will see it in January when Bizarre Foods New Orleans premieres.