Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not Jenicca's II: New Place to Open in Old Space

According to an article in today's CJ that tries to convince us Loueyvillagers that the restaurant scene ain't as dire as we all know it is, the former home of Jenicca's is about to become the home of a new fine dining restaurant, brought to you by the Wiltshire Pantry catering service folks (who also own the former Jenicca's building). According to the article, owner "Hershberg plans to do the bulk of food preparation at her catering headquarters in the Highlands. 'I'm not even going to need a separate prep staff,' she said. Wiltshire on Market will only be open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and Hershberg is embracing the 'small plate' concept.

In the article Tamara Ikenberg cites the losses of Park Place, Brownings, and Primo but fails to mention the loss of Market on Market or Jenicca's or Mellilo's-- not to mention the quasi-closing (Are we dead yet?? It's so hard to tell.) of sometimes food-serving bar/pool hall Ice Breakers. Six (or seven) restaurants within just a few blocks of each other, all very much a part of that East Market corridor we were all so proud of just a year or so ago.

Wiltshire on Market and the upcoming Green Building eatery 732 Social will attempt to plug in some of those holes in the corridor, but let's be realistic, what was once a food destination in the city is no longer. These rapid-fire restaurant deaths make the article's title ('Sky not falling' on dining scene-- a quote from some natty U of L economics prof) ring pretty derned false, if you ask me. Things may be good in the Highlands (or "not as bad as we sometimes think they are"), but in this much-hyped area, just a stone's throw from the future home of our arena, we've got some ghost town shit going down.

(If there is good news to be had in this corridor, FYI, it's in retail not in food... Scout's new home store is beautiful and right next to the brand new flower shop boutique... Red Tree seems to be doing well... Joseph Ley's... always-our-favorite-Design-Star-baddie Tracee Dore's store. No retail stores have closed in the past year or so, to the best of my knowledge.)

I don't know about this (small) influx of more fine dining in that neck of the woods. The only two restaurants open for dinner in the area are Mayan Cafe and Artemesia, both priced out of my budget except for special occasions. Both 732 Social and Wiltshires claim to have embraced the "small plate" trend, a style of dining that strikes me as being very trendy and perhaps short-lived.

We'll see what happens. I wish them luck. And while it's nice to hear good economic news at times, it would be better if that news felt honest.

No comments: