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Graffiato, Modern Italian Small Plates In Chinatown, and the Original Mike Isabella Restaurant - Closed

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21 hours ago, DonRocks said:

dcs, as a point of reference, I had dinner at Hank's Pasta Bar last night. For $12, we got a very mediocre Tanqueray Gin & Tonic - served in what was probably a 10-ounce water glass, 3/4 filled with ice, and with a measured shot (jigger? not sure which side was used) of Gin, and then filled with squirt-gun tonic water - there was nothing special about this at all other than the Tanqueray. I saw a bottle of Bluecoat, and asked our bartender how much it would be for a Bluecoat G&T - he checked, and told me $14.

As a further point of reference a typical G & T is served in a highball glass or collins glass (same shape only taller with more capacity).  The glass is filled with ice, close to the top.  A bar/restaurant has a "standard pour".  But the pour (gin) varies from place to place.  I would guess that the current norm in the industry in this area is probably 1.25 or 1.5 ounces.  Might be different.  Possibly current bartenders on the board, if any, could speak to that.  In the majority of places they will use a soda gun pour.  The tonic fills the glass or to the lip with some room for sipping.  Tonic volume depends on the size of the glass and amount of ice.  (Tonic/syrup through a gun is inexpensive but might not be nearly as inexpensive as we think).  It should have a lime.   Its not complicated.

Today there are more upscale cocktail bars that will use better, more expensive, in some cases wonderful tonic mixtures, that do add tonic costs significantly above that out of a soda gun with syrup, but still not all that expensive.

Want to determine the mark up?   Take a look at the cost of Tangueray, Hendricks, Bluecoat or any Gin and divide 1.25, 1.5, or a different sized pour into 25 (ounces) (a 750 ml bottle).  Not surprisingly--pretty high.  If the bar/restaurant is located in Virginia they are locked into Virginia ABC costs.  You can look it up.

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As great as that location is, I can only imagine what the rent for that space has become over the last 10 years.  Going to take a certain type of restaurant to succeed there, one with food that satisfies the dumbed down palate and has a great bar program.  Basically, what Graffiato was supposed to be but never was able to achieve.

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I don't know why Isabella doesn't sell the business. I thought it was $28,000; well now it's $54,000, and is still not that much to keep an eviction at bay. Just keep the restaurant alive till it sells. The terms of the lease could be an excellent selling point, if they are transferable. 

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27 minutes ago, Lisa Fricano said:

I don't know why Isabella doesn't sell the business. I thought it was $28,000; well now it's $54,000, and is still not that much to keep an eviction at bay. Just keep the restaurant alive till it sells. The terms of the lease could be an excellent selling point, if they are transferable. 

I suspect Mike Isabella is doing what's best for Mike Isabella.

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I walked by the Chinatown location yesterday (Thursday) at 6:30 pm.  Empty and dark, menu no longer in the window, etc.

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4 hours ago, dpamlin said:

I walked by the Chinatown location yesterday (Thursday) at 6:30 pm.  Empty and dark, menu no longer in the window, etc.

From "Graffiato Has Gone Dark, but Mike Isabella Says He's Still Trying To Save It" by Anna Spiegel on washingtonian.com

---

"Landlord Douglas Development has sued the restaurant for $54,980 in unpaid rent and other fees and listed the property for lease. (A representative from Douglas has not responded to requests for comment.) The landlord of Requin Brasserie, which closed in April at the Mosaic District, is suing MIC for more than $700,000 in alleged unpaid rent and other fees, as reported by the Washington Business Journal."

and:

“Honestly, I probably would have closed some of the restaurants I closed now over a year ago, but since I was in the process of opening up three restaurants last year, including Isabella Eatery, it’s not a good look,” he says. “So if I had to pay to keep it open longer, then I did that.”

---

If I were an investor, the thing that would bother me the most about the second block of quoted text is how many times the word "I" is used - five times in two sentences.

This has a very different feel than, for example, Neighborhood Restaurant Group having closed Tallula and Eatbar in Clarendon - both of which were probably becoming nuisances to maintain, given the enormity of their subsequent openings.

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21 hours ago, DPop said:

As great as that location is, I can only imagine what the rent for that space has become over the last 10 years.  Going to take a certain type of restaurant to succeed there, one with food that satisfies the dumbed down palate and has a great bar program.  Basically, what Graffiato was supposed to be but never was able to achieve.

Never went. I went to Kapnos in Bethesda once and it was acceptable, but nothing really notable (except for how noisy it was).  As for the rents, well, they always keep going up - I'd imagine the terms would be running out soon if still on an initial well-priced lease, or perhaps the new terms were not as workable for this place or anyone considering to take it over.

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I took my teen-aged goddaughter there before a basketball game at what used to be the Verizon Center.  She was more in awe that it was a Mike Isabella place because she had heard of Mike from some cooking show that she occasionally watched.  I have also been to his Greek place, both the Ballston and Bethesda branches, and they were just OK.  It leads me to believe that my goddaughter, being a college student, may have hit it on the head:  it was considered better than it was because Isabella popped up on television.

If you want an economic response, it was like the Ray's The Steaks franchise in developing a name, over-expanding, and paying the price eventually.

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