Wednesday, October 12, 2005

And Then There Were None

A month or so ago I noticed that the Divinci's Wood Fire Grill restaurant around the corner from my house closed. It wasn't really unexpected, since they had spent a year blowing through their money just building the place and then opened with overpriced food, bad service and crappy booths. Still, I don't like seeing a big section of the mall sitting empty. If you were so inclined, I'm sure you could get a less then 6-month old restaurant equipped with a fancy brick oven for a pittance.

Or, you could use Scott Winer's method and just spend $5 million building one of most expensive restaurants ever in Minnesota right across the parking lot.

Literally just on the other side of the parking lot from the former Divinci's they are building a rather small, crazy looking building. It is pretty hard to miss because the entire thing is clad in copper panels. Seriously. The building looks about as bad as you might imagine, mostly because it totally clashes with the surrounding buildings, and I can't wait until the edge of each panel starts turning green from the rain. That will be cool. Or Not.

I can't imagine why anyone would think they could build a (small) restaurant less then three blocks from full-on farms and expect to be able to pull in $10 million in revenue. The Star Tribune claims the only restaurant making that around here is The Cheesecake Factory, which not only has really good food, but is much more centrally located, features a huge seating area and is always packed.

I'm sure Copper Bleu is destined to be expensive, since they will have to try to pay for that fancy building somehow. That coupled with their small size and out-of-the-way location probably doom the place unless the food and service are just spectacular. I give it a year, only because the owner obviously has money to burn.

[ Update 2/14: We ate at Copper Bleu last weekend, and I wrote a little about our experience. ]


Brenden Johnson said...

It's a little nerve-wracking to be in the custom cabinet business. But I can't fathom owning a restaurant. That kind of business would just freak me out. Seasonal during the year, "seasonal" during the week, and really "seasonal" during the day. Ick.

Steve Eck said...

Yeah, I don't think I would like the huge rush of customers, several hours of dead time, and then another huge rush of customer, day after day.

Bill Roehl said...

I had noticed that Divinci's Pizza closed within days of it occuring. Obviously I wasn't surprised but I was surprised to hear from a worker in the same strip that he owed money to both the bank and to his employees.

Pretty sad. I really wish people would just strive for good service and food rather than the way the place looks.

Piccolo's Pizzeria in Eagan is not exactly pretty to look at but their food is great!

Linzy Eck said...

Thanks for the tip on Piccolo's. Steve and I are always trying to find a new place to go for pizza!

Bill Roehl said...

Anytime! Always willing to help my fellow Minnesotans pack on some more insulation for the winter :) :) :)

Al said...

I'm not from Lakeville, and I can't see Copper Bleu go up bit-by-bit, but there's something to be said about niche marketing. Perhaps you just can't hack a restaurant that will attract some people to it? I'll let you know how the VIP opening of it goes on the 17th of this month. Officially, Copper Bleu will open for business on the 20th.

Steve Eck said...

> Perhaps you just can't hack a restaurant that will attract some people to it?

Actually, I'd like if a restaurant opened nearby that drew a lot of people, especially if that was because it featured good, reasonably priced food.

Today going out to eat involves a (soemtimes long) trek someplace, where as Copper Bleu will be conveniently nearby.

What I would rather not have is an empty, copper-covered restaurant just down the street, if it turns out that they overestimated the drawing power of their niche.