Mar 3, 2017

Molovinsky, The Morning Call and News

The article about Hooks Seafood restaurant closing states that this type of failure isn't unusual in an urban renewal area, according to experts. So says the Morning Call.  The article also states that The $6 million renovation of the long-closed Sal's Spaghetti House included a crystal chandelier from Hess's department store.... As you can see from my photograph above, Sal's wasn't renovated. The long closed former spaghetti house was demolished, and a new building was constructed in its place.  Now, I can understand the paper not knowing this, after all, the building is over a quarter block away from the newspaper building.  Assuming that people at the Morning Call read the paper, apparently nobody caught the error, twice. This was the second time in about a week that this misinformation was printed. However, this post is about the important part of the story, not covered by the paper.

The restaurant was built pre-NIZ. Save for a $50,000 city grant, the entire cost was borne by the owner. It happens that the owner and his wife were retired from a very lucrative business, and always wanted to own a high end restaurant. Opened as the Cosmopolitan, it was high end indeed.  When that failed to attract enough well heeled, it was transformed into the more price friendly Hook Seafood. However, with the NIZ and Reilly's hospitality group of eateries, the market was now over-saturated.

The owner of the restaurant when asked about lack of foot traffic downtown stated, "I'm not going to get judgmental or say anything negative." Those are traits that nobody accuses this blogger of having.

photocredit:molovinsky- site of the former Sal's Spaghetti House being prepared for new foundation


Dave said...

I wonder what happened to the sign from Sals that was supposedly going to be restored?

LVCI said...

Someone asked on the Morning Calls Facebook page-- How many dinners & special events would they have to hustle in order to make the $6 million investment payoff?

doug_b said...

Hey LVCI - that's right up my alley! The building looks like it's three stories - so say the restaurant occupies 1/3 - that's $2,000,000 (I think this is conservative, assuming all the furnishings / equipment / etc) .

At 4% a 15 year mortgage on $2,000,000 is $19,700 a month (I included 2% property tax and 10,000 yr insurance).

Assuming each dinner is $40 and there is $5 profit you would have to serve ($19,700 / $5) = 3,940 meals @ $40 per month - $157,000 a month in gross sales.

Assume that there are 25 good traffic days in a month: 3,940 / 25 days = 157 meals a day - just to pay the rent. No wonder it failed.

Also if you look on Yelp, the reviews are really bad.

JoshLCowen said...

I think moving into a relatively limited appeal cuisine as a high-end seafood place with two highly respected venues like Youell's and Henry's Salt of the Sea was a gamble to begin with. I wish the owner's well in the future, but can't for the life of me understand what research they did (add Costas at the defunct Shula's) to see a light at the end of the tunnel. At best the NIZ was going to be a 'put in your 8-hours and get in the car to go home kind of place. Surely hockey fans wouldn't be dining there with 7 p.m. starts to games. It may be that they fell for the nonsense about dozens and dozens of concerts and other events a the PPL Arena. There is no real expense account, corporate types working downtown. It's full of mid-level bankers and medical workers...and assorted other Yuppies who don't generally pull in the big bucks that those classy restaurants need to draw. This is not a criticism of those people or their professions. Heck, I'm a Seafood Shanty kinda guy.