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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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On 8/26/2018 at 8:01 PM, DonRocks said:

If anyone needs help finding employment, please contact me, and I will do my best to help you.

14 hours ago, Josh Radigan said:

Contact me if looking for a solid Food and Bev job. Always growing, always looking for good people- who in this business isn’t.

This is one of many reasons that sets Donrockwell.com apart from any other resource on the net.  When you need help, whether its for a place to eat out, or a place to help find work, this is your one stop for just about everything. I hope all those who are affected by the closures of any of Isabella's operations happen to  find work. 

 

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I didn't think that article made it clear enough that it was MIC, the restaurant group, that filed for bankruptcy and not him personally.  Maybe that's just the way I read it, but I'd imagine he'd like the distinction to be clearer.

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4 hours ago, Pat said:

I didn't think that article made it clear enough that it was MIC, the restaurant group, that filed for bankruptcy and not him personally.  Maybe that's just the way I read it, but I'd imagine he'd like the distinction to be clearer.

Either way, they can't touch his residence.

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23 hours ago, Pat said:

I didn't think that article made it clear enough that it was MIC, the restaurant group, that filed for bankruptcy and not him personally.  Maybe that's just the way I read it, but I'd imagine he'd like the distinction to be clearer.

I’ll go a step further - the title is downright misleading. You’d think two seasoned journalists would know/ do better.

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8 hours ago, Keithstg said:

I’ll go a step further - the title is downright misleading. You’d think two seasoned journalists would know/ do better.

I thought the reporter doesn’t have a say in the title?

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Tysons Galleria is "moribund"? Really?? It looks just about as busy as it's ever been. Methinks I detect groupthink about "all malls are dying".

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7 minutes ago, kgottwald said:

Tysons Galleria is "moribund"? Really?? It looks just about as busy as it's ever been. Methinks I detect groupthink about "all malls are dying".

It took two reporters to come up with that spurious/specious statement.  

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From ‘Top Chef’ stardom to bankruptcy: The rise and fall of Mike Isabella

Carman and Judkis doing a deep dive, including an interview with Isabella. One of the biggest takeaways is that Isabella just. doesn't. get it. Or, perhaps more accurately, he does not want to. Choice quote:

Quote

'I am old school. I did work in a kitchen 20 years ago. It’s a different world,' he said. 'Obviously, everyone learns every day. I still learn . . . I’m always learning, and I always want to continue to learn and get better. That’s what it is. Nobody’s perfect in life.'

In other words, "I want the latitude to continue being a chauvinist and a prick because I came up during a different era where it was acceptable or wasn't questioned."

Other choice info include the fact that his investors were pushing him to hire a CEO to manage the expansion and Isabella refused to because, seemingly, he didn't want to relinquish control:

Quote

Hiring a CEO is expensive. Very expensive. So you have to be able to afford it first. We talked about it a lot last year. . . . We were definitely interviewing and talking to them. At that point, it was just very hard to give my control up. 

(emphasis added)

I have no love for Isabella, but I did appreciate Kapnos. To my mind, other than Komi, those restaurants were doing really good things for Greek food in the DC area. My late father, who was notoriously finicky about restaurants (he didn't like going out to eat), actually enjoyed the meal we had at Kapnos Kouzina and, in fact, days before he passed, took my mom out to that same restaurant for her birthday. So, notwithstanding it's affiliation with Isabella, I hope that restaurant manages to survive this shitstorm.

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3 hours ago, monsterriffs said:

One of the biggest takeaways is that Isabella just. doesn't. get it. Or, perhaps more accurately, he does not want to.

It will be difficult for me to patronize one of his restaurants after reading that story, and I'm not usually the boycott the owner kind of guy (hell, I still regularly attend Redskins games).  Everyone deserves a second, and even a third, chance.  But this guy is still stuck on "bad press" this and "someone else's fault" that.  He is not helping himself with these interviews.

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Wow. I can't imagine he has a publicist, or if he does he should find a new one. Isabella isn't a sympathetic figure, and this article makes it clear he hasn't learned anywhere near enough from this experience.

That said, Carman and Judkis still characterize the bankruptcy in a misleading manner. Ugh.  "It’s the day before the chef and restaurateur will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy" - only Isabella's was a business, not a personal filing. Come on. 

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57 minutes ago, Keithstg said:

Wow. I can't imagine he has a publicist, or if he does he should find a new one. Isabella isn't a sympathetic figure, and this article makes it clear he hasn't learned anywhere near enough from this experience.

This doesn't surprise me. The guy wouldn't even hire a CEO.

Quote

That said, Carman and Judkis still characterize the bankruptcy in a misleading manner. Ugh.  "It’s the day before the chef and restaurateur will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy" - only Isabella's was a business, not a personal filing. Come on. 

It's a little misleading or, perhaps, Carman and Judkis are assuming that their target audience, i.e., well-educated DC area types, know the distinction between Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 bankruptcies. But, it's likely because the headline is clickbaity.

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Not to totally derail this discussion, but both Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings are (or at least used to be) available to both individuals and business entities.  Chapter 11 is not well-suited for an individual for at least a couple of reasons, but it is an option.

I think Ericandblueboy above has raised an appropriate issue--the possibility that the authors are not writing the headlines.  Thus, we may not be able to pin it directly on the authors.

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16 hours ago, JBag57 said:

Not to totally derail this discussion, but both Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings are (or at least used to be) available to both individuals and business entities.  Chapter 11 is not well-suited for an individual for at least a couple of reasons, but it is an option.

I think Ericandblueboy above has raised an appropriate issue--the possibility that the authors are not writing the headlines.  Thus, we may not be able to pin it directly on the authors.

Not only is it quite possible the authors didn't write the header, it's quite likely.

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From a business perspective the article was interesting and informative imho.  In the course of several years Isabella went from operating his first restaurant to about 14 or so.  (more?  less?  hard to keep track of that growth).   That is crazy fast and enormous growth.   For anyone  managing that is a huge chore.  An experienced hand would have suggested a major warning sign regardless of the law suit.

Reports from the court documents--WHOA.   Enormous financial HITS.   That sexual abuse case CRUSHED his business.  So be it.   Per the court documents, even running at $1 million/month in revenues at Tysons Galleria, with all those employees--I doubt they were making money.   That is my gut based on old experience.   Too large a payroll, too many mandated hours for staffing, too high occupancy costs.   The other business element that surprised me is that business seemed hugely under capitalized.  It failed quickly.   He didn't have enough cash into it.    Another small detail;  with opening the Galleria the business went from 400-700 employees.   Not only is that huge growth, but it compounds the enormous issues with employees who are unreliable, don't show up, get fired.   That is a management bear.    The above were just a few of the details I gleaned.

I agree with commentators above;  per the article Isabella doesn't seem to "get it" and comes across as an arrogant character.   He needs serious PR help.  

The article headline messed up between personal and business bankruptcy.   Okay...not the most serious issue.  It was written because Isabella is a personality/star in today's world of "stars".  It documents his rise and recent fall.  

Now that is tasty celebrity gossip. ;)

 

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37 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:

Top Chef brought way too much attention to some chefs.  Under the normal business model, Isabella would probably never have been funded.

Coincidentally I received and scanned an email today looking to raise a last share or so of about a total of $3.2 million for some food related “thingy”.   The last share is at $120,000.   An investment firm handling a “private placement” was pushing it.  I don’t recall how I got on the email list.   I get some of these things.  Most of the time I ignore them.

I was thinking about the money raising thing w/regard to Isabella when the article cited someone who lost $100,000 on the Tyson’s Galleria project.  Where does the money come from?

All those projects over the recent years can’t be self funded.   Isabella et al  couldn’t have self funded so many new deals and not be able to afford a CEO.  That doesn’t compute.   The number of projects and money was too large to be funded by friends and family  unless there is a rich “Rockefeller” type among relatives/friends.

Investment groups do “private placements” on these things and have been doing them for decades.  I first ran into them over 3 decades ago when selling commercial real estate.   While the percentage of people who can easily invest $100,000 without thinking about it too much is small the actual number in a world of billions is sort of large.

Anyway having a “Top Chef” designation is certainly one way to put some pizzazz into a funding request for investment shares at 100 grand or so.  

Hmmm.  Being accused of sexual abuse is  now a clear way to destroy a business.  Really powerful examples of that in how the article described how Isabella restaurants tanked after the case broke.  

I bet investment documents never “used to” describe sexual harassment as a business risk element.  They should now 

(I haven’t been to an Isabella restaurant since the story broke)

Back to the article-  I gleaned a lot from it- even as it is a slice of celebrity gossip.

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16 hours ago, DaveO said:

Coincidentally I received and scanned an email today looking to raise a last share or so of about a total of $3.2 million for some food related “thingy”.   The last share is at $120,000.   An investment firm handling a “private placement” was pushing it.  I don’t recall how I got on the email list.   I get some of these things.  Most of the time I ignore them.

Depending on how the investment is structured, in most situations like this SEC rules prohibit a general solicitation of private placements such as you described.  The investment firm that sent you the email likely violated the rules just by sending the email.  In any event, before you invested the firm would have to ensure that you are a "qualified investor."

The number of people in this area who can invest $100,000 in a private placement is actually quite large and those investments happen every day.  Some pan out and some don't.  They are not for inexperienced or small investors, however (hence the requirement to be a "qualified investor").  Restaurants, in particular, can be risky, but sometimes pay off.  As Ericandblueboy noted, though, funding becomes easier with Top Chef celebrity (have we forgotten Shaw Bijou already?).

Back when I was in private practice, my firm represented a well-known local chef in setting up the corporation and raising capital for his first restaurant.  The chef opened a couple of others but wisely did not take on too much.  While not making a fortune, the original investors did okay.

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36 minutes ago, jpbloom said:

Depending on how the investment is structured, in most situations like this SEC rules prohibit a general solicitation of private placements such as you described.  The investment firm that sent you the email likely violated the rules just by sending the email.  In any event, before you invested the firm would have to ensure that you are a "qualified investor."

The number of people in this area who can invest $100,000 in a private placement is actually quite large and those investments happen every day.  Some pan out and some don't.  They are not for inexperienced or small investors, however (hence the requirement to be a "qualified investor").  Restaurants, in particular, can be risky, but sometimes pay off.  As Ericandblueboy noted, though, funding becomes easier with Top Chef celebrity (have we forgotten Shaw Bijou already?).

Back when I was in private practice, my firm represented a well-known local chef in setting up the corporation and raising capital for his first restaurant.  The chef opened a couple of others but wisely did not take on too much.  While not making a fortune, the original investors did okay.

Yes to above.  Better description than mine.  I don't know SEC rules as applied to investment firms on this.  I used to receive many such solicitations pre and post web.  Less so now.  As noted above the absolute number of investors who can invest in a private placement of this size range is sizable.  Been that way for decades.  As a percentage of the population its a small percentage. 

Reference to Shaw Bijou is an excellent example of more accessible, easier funding due to celebrity.  That restaurant also quickly collapsed (although my reading suggested it was self funded by a partner)  So much for the stand-alone value to celebrity chefs.  On the other hand  As an investor in a private placement like this in the low six figures category, restaurants are "sexy" and attractive.  If you are local you can visit your investment, take your friends, see and taste your products, get great service.  It beats the visual hell out of investing into a packaging factory that makes cardboard boxes. ;) 

The point that grabbed me from the article was the impact on sales/revenues following the court case and publicity around the sexual abuse charge.   Boy the losses were severe and devastating in scope.  Regardless how Isabella talked around the topic (possibly due to the court order on the negotiated settlement)   that was a vivid picture on how society (or at least this region) is currently reacting to such charges.   Fair warning to one and all.  But as an investor if putting out money on some individual, how the heck can you evaluate for risk on topics like potential sexual abuse. 

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10 hours ago, DaveO said:

But as an investor if putting out money on some individual, how the heck can you evaluate for risk on topics like potential sexual abuse. 

I would say watch the season he was on Top Chef. I'd say names here to describe said individual, but DR hates that, and I know TV good vs evil is easily manipulated and extreme. But I am far more trusting of journalists that did the massive legwork to identify, find and extensively interview folks surrounding that maelstrom that is this guy at the center of it.

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4 hours ago, dcs said:

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

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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.

Well, I, for one, am *blocked* from viewing any of @MikeIsabellaDC's tweets. This, after I've spent the past several years playing traffic cop, and trying to stop people from writing personal insults about him. He would have been welcome on this website just like everyone else (still would be).

Maybe I'm the one responsible for all of this (as recently as two-months ago, there was total silence about all of these issues). Was that a bad thing to write? Didn't mean it that way; just noticed the remarkable turnaround of media coverage - oh well.

Cheers,
@DCDining (<--- Nobody is blocked.)

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32 minutes ago, B.A.R. said:

It's gone....what did it say?

Minus the profanity, it basically said, I'm a nice guy, so if you have a problem with me, you're the problem. And, in a stroke of genius, the insult followed his invitation to visit his restaurants, which are all listed in the tweet.

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