A couple of weeks ago I was at a friend’s house for dinner and commented on her new dining room chairs. Turns out they are from the new restaurant on France Avenue that took over the old Pizzeria Uno place – you know, Via. Well, Via wasn’t doing so well, so the company that owns it, Hemisphere Restaurant Partners, decided to reinvent the concept and totally renovate the place. They did not just rework the menu and price-points, but have created an entirely new restaurant. In fact, they are not the only restaurant company with a lot of cash to throw around. Turns out that Laredo’s on Excelsior in St. Louis Park is owned by the same company that owned the previous restaurant in that location, Brix. The Collins Restaurant Group is throwing big money towards concepts until they can get it right, too. There must be really big bucks in certain types of restaurants, but to find what the people like is a little more elusive.
I like creative and fresh food. I like lots of vegetarian options and nice wine and beer. Laredo’s didn’t have much of interest. I had a plate of cheese enchiladas with a chipotle mole type sauce – they just called it “red sauce.” Jeff had a black bean veggie burger and Max had grilled cheese with fries. Yikes! They do have very nice chips served with a flavorful habanero sauce, but everything else is pretty blah. Since they have a full bar and lots of specialty drinks, I thought I better try their mojito – terrible. It was bland! How can a mojito be bland?
Ultimately, I find it pretty disgusting that a restaurant company can throw millions of dollars into a concept that will fail, and then turn around and do it all over again in the same location. These guys are totally disassociated with the reality of location and thinking only of dollars, and when those are the parameters, the patron and community loses.