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Isabella Eatery, Mike Isabella Lends his Name to a 41,000-Square-Foot Eatery at Tysons Galleria - Closed

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5 hours ago, dcs said:

I saw it.  Outrageous.  Both arrogant and symptomatic of someone who "doesn't get it". 

1 hour ago, Pat said:

Eek. How long until that tweet is deleted? Any PR people working for that company must be ripping their hair out.

Agree with Pat.  Some PR aware person got that tweet removed as soon as was possible.  (I don't know what time he put that up....but there are certain people who should be banned from tweeting insulting tweets that reflect significant anti-social anger provoking reactions....--it would be for their own good).

The last element I learned from the Carmen Judkis article:

As a business person Isabella has a mix of naivete and arrogance; or possibly so much arrogance that it blinds him to grown up business. and responsibility.   When he complained/whined about a judgement that terminated his lease in College Park--those words exemplified that he lacks understanding about his lease and the seriousness of the contract.  Having read that as a prospective landlord I'd never lease to him--ultimately too unreliable by a significant level. 

The following paragraph also indicated a mix of arrogance and naivete:

Quote

“You know why I didn’t think it was too much? Because I had about 20 other f---ing deals on the table” before the lawsuit, he said. Eight of them were underway, including plans for more restaurants in the District, as well as in “Vegas, Houston, Atlanta, Philly. Some of them, multiple projects in a city.” Bankruptcy filings also mention a project in the Middle East.

Being offered many deals is not an indicator of "too much" in any way or form.  It simply means there is a ton of empty space around the globe.  It has nothing to do with being capable of responsibly handling that level of business.   The statement completely misses the point. 

Investors, as the one cited lost $$ on his deal(s).  He never bothered referencing that.  I guess he doesn't care.   He whined about being evicted from the college park location by court order.  I guess he doesn't get the seriousness of the lease contract.

All in all I found it to be a revealing article.   oooh.  That tweet was sort of symbolic icing on the cake.

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3 minutes ago, DaveO said:

(I don't know what time he put that up.

I was curious about that so made sure to check the time stamp on the tweet. It was yesterday 6:33 PM (or thereabouts. I may have the exact minute wrong).

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Lingering question in the back of my mind....I watched that buildout for about a year. It was extravagant. Who eats that expense, and what does the Galleria do with that single-purpose space now?

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2 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

Lingering question in the back of my mind....I watched that buildout for about a year. It was extravagant. Who eats that expense, and what does the Galleria do with that single-purpose space now?

Before I flap my lips, the only folks who know who spent what on buildout are the parties to the lease.

Without knowing the details I suspect the landlord (ll) put out the majority or all the $$.  With that the lease rate would be higher.  If Isabella spent a lot on buildout the lease rate would be lower.

Now it is the ll’s responsibility.   Ripping it out is far less expensive than building it, but doing so means the money spent now goes down the drain.  I read somewhere the landlord is targeting a new restaurant group or groups.  That would make financial sense with regard to the buildout.

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On 9/14/2018 at 7:04 AM, Kibbee Nayee said:

Lingering question in the back of my mind....I watched that buildout for about a year. It was extravagant. Who eats that expense, and what does the Galleria do with that single-purpose space now?

Right now when I stroll by during the week I always see at least a handful of folks working on laptops at tables that have not been roped off.  This leads me to suspect that some are using the space as a co-working / remote working venue until a new tenant emerges.  The Galleria does offer free Wi-Fi and plenty of parking.

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I drove by Liberty Center (II???) on my way home from picking something up on Nextdoor and thought to myself, that with Taylor closing so quickly and likely screwing them on rent, and the other retail tenants being 3 Isabella joints, they must be praying those checks cash or that bankruptcy payment plan includes good terms for them.

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Biscuits to the rescue

Stomping Ground, the farmhouse-styled Southern breakfast stalwart in suburban Alexandria, plans to open another location in part of the former Isabella Eatery space in Tysons Corner. Owner Nicole Jones, the woman behind the Del Ray shop that churns out some of the finest biscuits in the area, tells Northern Virginia Magazine she agreed to fill part of the Tysons Galleria ghost town. Stomping Ground’s website says “Stomping Ground Tysons” is coming soon. Isabella Eatery closed in August, leaving behind infrastructure from 10 different concepts.

Jones told Northern Virginia Magazine that the new Stomping Ground will take over the former location of Non-Fiction Coffee, and other restaurants are being recruited to fill up the food hall. Jones also says she doesn’t think it’s an accident that, as “a queer woman,” she’s being tabbed to take over for Isabella, who is fending off his partners for control of his restaurant group. Isabella filed for bankruptcy in September following a sexual harassment settlement with Chloe Caras, who was the director of operations at Isabella Eatery. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Copied from Eater.  So there's a movement to replace male sexual harassers with lesbians?  So the next POTUS would be a lesbian?  🙄  

ETA:  I don't have a problem with a lesbian POTUS - I just don't think it's some kind of movement.

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2 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I just don't think it's some kind of movement.

I don't think anyone would assume that, although I admit to not fully understanding Nicole's comment.

Anyway, regarding Stomping Ground, Eater wrote: "They've brought in pastry chef Heather Roth to whip up creations like ginger scones and coffee cake." This may have once been true, but Heather and James Roth are moving to Portland (does anyone else remember when Heather and Lisa Scruggs were the Pastry Cooks at Equinox?)

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"Thip Khao, Donburi and Other D.C. Food Businesses To Take Over Isabella Eatery Space in Tysons" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com

"Three months after embattled chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella closed his sprawling multi-concept food emporium in Tysons Galleria, the luxury mall has announced a replacement: A Taste of Urbanspace, a food hall that’s expected to open in late November with eight diverse businesses from the Washington-area market, including Thip Khao, Donburi and Ice Cream Jubilee."

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I'm not an expert on food halls by any means, but I know this Tysons space from working in the area for decades.

The mostly millennials that work in the tech industry will stand in line at Sweetgreen for a salad, or will splurge on bad coffee at Starbucks, but I can't see them understanding and flocking to Thip Kao or Donburi at the lunch hour. For happy hour, they'll pack the bar at Wildfire or Maggiano's, but mostly because cheap (or free) snacks are passing around.

What am I missing about a food hall concept succeeding in a low-traffic upper crust setting?

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40 minutes ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

What am I missing about a food hall concept succeeding in a low-traffic upper crust setting?

My guess is that this isn't about succeeding; it's about minimizing losses. How, I don't have a clue, but letting things sit vacant probably isn't the optimal path. Does the Lerner family own Tysons Galleria? If so, I suspect they don't spend a lot of time stewing over this.

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On 11/22/2018 at 2:58 PM, DonRocks said:

My guess is that this isn't about succeeding; it's about minimizing losses. How, I don't have a clue, but letting things sit vacant probably isn't the optimal path. Does the Lerner family own Tysons Galleria? If so, I suspect they don't spend a lot of time stewing over this.

Galleria is no longer owned by the Lerners.  According to google, it's owned by Brookfield.

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I think one of the (many) problems with Isabella Eatery was it was really poorly suited for lunch traffic since it operated more like a sitdown restaurant with moderately high prices.  Donburi I think will be appealing to people working nearby looking for an alternative to Sweetgreen, and hopefully the Thip Khao branch will be able to gain followers quickly after people try the food.  I work down the street for T1 and am way more inclined to go over to T2 for those two options alone than I ever was for Isabella Eatery even before the whole sexual harassment stuff came to light (after which I never went).

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On 11/22/2018 at 2:18 PM, Kibbee Nayee said:

I'm not an expert on food halls by any means, but I know this Tysons space from working in the area for decades.

The mostly millennials that work in the tech industry will stand in line at Sweetgreen for a salad, or will splurge on bad coffee at Starbucks, but I can't see them understanding and flocking to Thip Kao or Donburi at the lunch hour. For happy hour, they'll pack the bar at Wildfire or Maggiano's, but mostly because cheap (or free) snacks are passing around.

What am I missing about a food hall concept succeeding in a low-traffic upper crust setting?

You have heavy millennial representation at KPMG, EY, PwC & Deloitte, whose offices are are all within walking distance to Tysons Galleria. As long as the price is right, I can see these offerings as viable alternatives to Sweetgreen.  

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1 minute ago, @Lf82 said:

You have heavy millennial representation at KPMG, EY, PwC & Deloitte, whose offices are are all within walking distance to Tysons Galleria. As long as the price is right, I can see these offerings as viable alternatives to Sweetgreen.  

We may be veering off track, but I understand the Big 4 demographic quite well. They may be employed by the firm that occupies that building, but these millennials are onsite at clients earning their keep, and might get called to a random meeting in Tysons on rare occasions. Of the hundreds or thousands of millennials employed by these firms, less than 10% are anywhere near the Tysons offices at the lunch hour.

Which brings me back to my original confusion.....I don't understand the business model for this concept in Tysons 2.

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Doing a bit of research on the group that is financing the new food hall at Tyson Galleria, and I stumble upon this,  Eldon Scott on Modernizing the Communal Food Hall , a podcast posted on Bloomberg that was recorded this past summer.  Eldon Scott, one of the partners of Urbanspace has been at this since 1972. His company has created artisan food halls, along with holiday gift markets in the UK as well the US.  In 1993, his sights were set for NYC.  In 2008,  a Q& A   was conducted on his development of Union Square  Holiday Market. I  too am  intrigued as to why he selected Tyson Galleria as location. Some of the markets developed by Urbanspace  include  Union Square, Columbus Circle Holiday Markets, Mad. Sq. Eats,Broadway Bites, Dekalb Market, and the  Urbanspace Vanderbilt are but a few of the food and design spaces in the heart of New York City. 

Their next venture, Northern VA.

Sleuth,

kat

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3 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

Which brings me back to my original confusion.....I don't understand the business model for this concept in Tysons 2.

KN:  I started working on commercial leasing around 1980.  I was the junior leasing dude, learning my way through apprenticeship at Georgetown Park Mall, another 3 level luxury mall.   Think about some other examples in this region, Mazza Gallerie and the late great White Flint, along with Tysons II.    All 3 level malls with rather small footprints vs the sprawling Tysons I or other large regional malls such as Fair Oaks).   All the 3 level malls with small footprints have had a hard time getting customers to the most remote floor (it was the bottom floor at GTownePark).   Over time they all have had leasing problems and vacancies at the most extreme/remote spaces.  (usually the upper floors).  I've seen the same phenomena in other cities in other parts of the nation.   Its a recurring issue with malls.  The volume of customers that enter through the main entrances thin out toward the extreme spaces (usually the upper floors).

I'm not aware of studies on the issues but astute real estate developers/leasing teams realize this by now.  Assuming these luxury malls started developing in the 1970's they have decades of experience seeing the same thing again and again.  I've never seen a study on the phenomena but that doesn't mean it hasn't been well documented and researched.

In 2012/13 the property took on a mortgage of $1052/foot on its retail/NON department store space.   That makes the leasing rates danged high.  There is also a helluva lot of money for management and all the costs associated with the property let alone extremely high real estate taxes.

It is expensive to carry the space vacant and its expensive to lease as a tenant.   Possibly the landlord places a rental premium on the first and second floor spaces and a discount on the top floor.  We don't know.  The landlord isn't telling us their inhouse secrets and your company doesn't tell competitors its inhouse secrets.

I would guess that from a corporate/landlord strategy they want to fill the space and get rents.  From a tenant side I doubt few tenants have watched this space for decades as have you.  Possibly the new tenants will be that attractive that they will draw more eaters than the most recent effort.

The decades have taught us that it is tough getting lots of shoppers to the top floor of a luxury 3 level mall such as this.  But once they are built you do what you have to do to get tenants.

I looked back at a financial document that describes the mortgage and rents on Tysons 2.  It is referenced and linked to upthread.  The mortgage began in 2013 and runs through 2020.  If I were the landlord I'd try and get some tenants in now and work to help them stick before a new mortgage comes due.

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3 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

We may be veering off track, but I understand the Big 4 demographic quite well. They may be employed by the firm that occupies that building, but these millennials are onsite at clients earning their keep, and might get called to a random meeting in Tysons on rare occasions. Of the hundreds or thousands of millennials employed by these firms, less than 10% are anywhere near the Tysons offices at the lunch hour.

Which brings me back to my original confusion.....I don't understand the business model for this concept in Tysons 2.

Agree that we're on a slight tangent, but you still have a material percentage of millennial Big4 employees on the tax, advisory and back-office side that do report to their local offices regularly (I know because I used to be one of them), so I think your 90% figure is aggressive. In any case, we'll see how this venue fares to the bread and butter (upper-class stay at home moms and real housewives), since Urbanspace's target demo in NYC are white-collar professional millennials.  

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I have an office near the space, if there is something cool over there, I would go for lunch.  There just isn't a lot that is cool as of now.  I did take a client to Lebanese Taverna for lunch.

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1 hour ago, Marty L. said:

Haven't read it yet, but thought I'd get it out there.

"The Inside Story of Mike Isabella's Fallen Empire" by Jessica Sidman and Anna Spiegel on washingtonian.com

I'm just now starting to read this article (it's halftime during the Texans-Titans game), but my initial impression, after reading the subtitle, is this:

"How alcohol, infighting, and a sexual harassment scandal turned the prince of DC dining into a pariah."

The prince of DC-dining media; not DC dining itself - let this be a reminder to restaurant "critics" who would be so quick to jump on a rapidly moving train, regardless of what's on the track up ahead.

I have vivid memories of a certain critic essentially wagging his finger at me when I said that this person had already peaked. 'Nuh-uh-uh! He has a massive project with Tysons opening next year!' Yeah? So what. Seriously, so what. Mariah Carey has a movie coming out next year, too - she'll make more from that movie than I'll make in ten lifetimes.

Remember this. I promise everyone that I will never write anything other than what I deem to be the truth ...

"If you had any ties to the local food scene in 2011, you remember the opening of Graffiato. There was a line to get in the door, before lines outside restaurants were really a thing. Rock blasted over the speakers. Bartenders tapped kegs of Prosecco."

I had ties, and I can assure everyone, in no uncertain terms, that the grossly overhyped, overpriced Prosecco being doled out at Graffiato sucked donkey dick. From the review, which is one of the most painstakingly accurate things I've ever written:

Early on a Sunday evening, there was an hour wait for reservations, and the restaurant was packed. We stood behind the crowded, impossibly noisy bar and ordered a couple of drinks – my friend a Bluecoat Gin & Tonic ($8), me a Montelvini Prosecco ($7) on draft. Right away, there were several problems: the chalkboard was listing wines by the glass that were so eye-poppingly expensive that I thought they were by-the-bottle prices at first. They were out of their Bluecoat Gin & Juice Tonic ($9) cocktail (probably ran out of lime-quinine ice cubes, because the ice cubes we got were plain old ice cubes), and the drink my friend got ($1 less than the craft cocktail) was in a glass so small that it made us laugh: it looked like someone took a standard pint beer glass, and cut off the top with a machete, and just used the top part for the drink. My Prosecco – and I don’t care how much positive press this cool, hip drink is receiving, bordered on being undrinkably bad. I finished the glass, but I sure didn’t order a second one, nor will I ever.

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