Monday, January 29, 2007

The French have unprofitable restaurants, too

San Francisco may be headed the way of France, which has for some time seen its top chefs migrate away from prohibitively expensive haute, Michelin-starred restaurants to more casual bistros.

The similarities between the two cities come into sharp relief when reading John Mariani's recent interview of French food journalists. His report, from the Bloomberg wire, was helpfully forwarded by a Covers operative.

The French food writers said it is nearly impossible for restaurants to earn a return on their side of the Atlantic:
(Journalist Jean-Louis) Galesne noted that almost no chef in France is opening an haute cuisine restaurant unless backed by wealthy investors or hotel chains that can afford to lose money on restaurants that may cost as much as $1 million per 1,000 square feet.
Hmm. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

New York Chef Geoffrey Zakarian said:
``There is no way ever to make back your money on a $15 million restaurant, which is why independent chefs and restaurateurs either have to accept investors' demands or find the money on their own to open a lesser space.''

(Monsieur's Jean-Pierre) de Lucovich contended that if a top chef who might run a 50- seat restaurant with three Michelin stars is bankrolled to open in Las Vegas, he will be asked to make it into a 250-seat extravaganza like Alain Ducasse's Mix in the Mandalay Bay.

Also: It has slowly dawned on the French, to their utter horror, that animal-loving California celebrities were picking off their favorite traditional foods, one at a time.

Full story on Bloomberg: French, American Foodies Chew Over Trends of 2007: John Mariani



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