|THE GREAT OUTDOORS: The backyard garden at Compass is now Suribaya's|
Anyone else think last week's 28 FEAST was more like 28 BUST? The concept--worked up by well-meaning neighborhood boosters hoping to capitalize on Northeast 28th Avenue's restaurant boom--is to highlight one night a month when diners can stroll the streets and get special deals at the neighborhood restaurants. Thing is, hardly any of the restaurants were actively participating last Wednesday. Sure, Holman's had a sign up welcoming Feasters to their back porch and the scrappy Hungry Tiger was dishing out chicken skewers, but when Miss Dish stopped at Taqueria Nueve she was told that 28 FEAST "didn't fit into our business set-up." Things looked to be zany as usual at Navarre and Noble Rot, while Esparza's wasn't even open! What's the deal? Miss Dish contacted Leather Storrs, the maestro of Noble Rot's kitchen, to find out. He said that NR participated in a minor way by offering a $1 item on the menu and that, while he appreciates the gesture of the neighborhood-association folks, the 28 FEAST event is a no-win proposition for most restaurants. "We get a lot of tire-kickers in who get the $1 item and a glass of water and then take up a booth for a while," he says. "Our check average plummets on that night." But this probably isn't the reason why there's been such lackluster participation, in his estimation. "Most of the restaurants on this street are decidedly individualistic," he says. "These aren't the kind of businesses that like to follow someone else's plan."
Joe Rogers, the flaxen-haired prince of Saucebox, reports that his downtown pan-Asian cocktail paradise is expanding into the space next door. According to Rogers, they're already paying rent on the space, but they don't have a complete timeline on when the new design will be blueprinted and completed ("we want to feel the soul of the space," he says), but the idea is to have a non-smoking component to Saucebox and offer a place where diners don't feel crowded by drinkers on the busy weekends.