Last Update: Dec 2nd, 2010
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Suite 100 Shakeup

After only 1 month Suite 100 has a new Executive Chef. Sous Chef Ted Inserra, formerly the Sous Chef at Smith and Jones, has been named to replace Reed Alenick. Reed who? Exactly.

I got into a bit of trouble suggesting that opening a restaurant in a place that nobody wants to go with a chef that nobody has heard of is a bad combination. Local people know who Ted is; the question is what do people think of him? He has a reputation that's somewhat controversial. He's worked with Mark Militello (Mark's, Trina, The Office), Michelle Bernstein (Michy's, Michelle Bernstein's), Peter Bouloukos (YOLO) and Johnny Vinczencz. I personally raved about his brunch at Smith and Jones. But as good as the brunch was; nobody was ever there. So why should we expect that he can lure people to the Riverfront? The big issue with a move like this is that there is no big change to the restaurant. When you promote a Sous Chef its like making your 3rd base coach the Manager. Sometimes you make such a move because the head guy was doing a bad job. Or sometimes he's just a scapegoat for a more systemic problem. It's hard to imagine that people are going to come flocking to the riverfront now because the Sous Chef is now the Head Chef.

I haven't eaten at Suite 100, so I can't say a change in chef is going to make any difference. To me, Suite 100's real problem is marketing. The name of the restaurant isn't Google Friendly. Their web site is still incomplete and painfully out of date. Happy hour and Ladies night are still "Coming Soon". Under Events they have items for Nov 7 and Thanksgiving. On their facebook page they regularly mention their Brunch; but there's no menu on their website or facebook page. Why don't they fill us in on what they're serving? Why should I have brunch at Suite 100 instead of Bluejay's? I can't answer the question.

The concept of build it and they will come is simply not a strategy that works in a crumbled economy. You don't pump millions of dollars into a restaurant and then market it with an amateurish website and facebook. You need someone who knows how to create buzz. Someone who knows how to work the media. Someone who can steer you in the right direction when the current message isn't working. Hire a publicist. If the restaurant is going to fail; let it fail on its merits, not because nobody knows its there.

Suite 100 could have made a big splash by hiring a bigger name chef; maybe someone like Steve Shockey; someone to create some buzz; to create a menu that was intriguing and different. Man, I could go for some of Shockey's Louisiana Gumbo or Jambalaya. Instead, they chose to make an adjustment. In an interview with New Times, Ted Inserra said that he wasn't going to change the menu. He says the food is so good that once people try it they'll keep coming back. Where have I heard that before?

Ah, that was the same strategy employed by Smith and Jones. Good food. Bad Location. And Out of Business.

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