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Closings Wed Jun 29 2011

Old Town Deathwatch: 33 Club

Owning a restaurant is tough. Really, really tough, in fact. And apparently it isn't necessarily any easier for a wealthy restaurateur like Jerry Kleiner, either. If you're not familiar, Kleiner is the man behind Carnivale, Gioco and the now-defunct 33 Club, which very quietly closed its doors this month. A note on its website reads: "It is with regret that The 33 Club announces it has closed for business. We thank all of our patrons for their loyalty and support. We enjoyed serving you and wish you all the best. We hope to see you again down the road."

Now, it's easy to write off 33 Club's failure as one rooted chiefly in its flawed due diligence - a restaurant with too much overhead and too little understanding of the local clientele - however that would be to ignore the larger issue. A quick walk down Wells St. reveals an awful lot of available commercial space. The last two years have seen Eivissa, Palermo Bakery, Cold Stone, Old Town Brasserie and 33 Club all come and go. And that's not to mention the half dozen retailers that couldn't make a go of it.

True, it's still impossible to walk into Topo Gigio without a reservation on a Friday night, and Fireplace will always be packed, but those are Wells St. institutions. The real question is:

In this economy, what does it take to open and run a successful restaurant in Old Town?


alan lake / June 30, 2011 1:49 PM

one thing it takes are realistic rental rates. greedy landlords demanding unsustainable leases are partially to blame. then add would be restauranteurs that haven't done their due diligence biz plan wise that take on more risk than they should.

daruma / June 30, 2011 4:04 PM

just saw a sign at 1551 n wells: opening soon flight 1551 restaurant and wine bar. And although there is still a "restaurant available" sign on 33 Club, there's also a new sign saying Milano's Pizza (or something like that)

Brian / July 1, 2011 8:29 AM

So Fresh Choice is actually closing and opening Flight 1551 as a new concept. Not sure how it will fair. The pizza place isn't in the same location as 33 Club, it's set back just a bit and difficult to see.

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I was using Rick Bayless' restroom, I mused, staring up at the ceiling window that was projecting a heavenly beacon of light upon my less-than-angelic duties. I could barely distinguish Rick's faint murmurs through the orange walls, something about how...
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