Thursday, 21 May 2009

Goings and Comings

The Compost featured the closure of Verdi's on the front page this week. It may be an icon for many with long memories of it's early days but has never been a favorite of mine. Perhaps i'm biased by experiences and perceptions of it as a haunt of some of the sleazier elements of the Cairns business boys club who splashed some grand sums of money there in their heyday.

Compost suggested there had been three high profile closures however my list of goings would now be Verdi’s, Del Sapore, Ti Adora, Salted Vue/Chocolat and Mangostin’s . The Courthouse and Lake Eacham Hotels also have closed. For at least some of these it must be suspected that issues beyond simply the slowdown in tourism have been critical.

There have however been some comings. The disappointing aspect is how many of the newer places opening are franchise chains near the Esplanade block as the place moves downmarket to shopping centre foodhall status. Subway, Nandos, Outback Jack’s, Gloria Jeans and Jamaica Joes. At Jamaica Joes I was served the most awful lamb shank ever experineced, presented in a kitch style on a bed of mashed potato with wet 'boarding school' veges.

It now looks like a Chinese franchise opening in Aplin St where the Swordfish seafood place used to be, and was Boydy’s before that, a site with a record of failure that has spent most of its time closed over recent years.

I should also note that Michelangelo's Italian did open to replace the short lived Del Sapore. Also noted this week was that there work progressing to finally open the Chocolat cafe site on Grafton under the name Cocoa Amour. Interesting as well that Kani's has an application for a 3am licence and entertainment on the outdoor balcony.


Arthur Festerbestertester said...

I heard on the grapevine that licensing people were out and about this week visiting a number of our extremely grotty nightclubs, checking that they were serving "food" to their "customers". A number had no food worth mentioning or the equipment to cook it on. Myself, i don't know what would be worse - catching swine flu or eating in one of those places.

CBD Warrior said...

Council has already written an "objection letter" about Kani's. Poor management and worse service have been the primary cause of the upper-end restaurant failures on the Esplanade, along with greedy landlords who've shown no mercy despite the slowdown. Kani's application is their last desperate measure before the inevitable shutdown.

Tourists are no longer paying for high-dollar meals without a semblance of service. High end restaurants that continue to hire shorttime backpackers instead of proper staff are seeing the bad results of this shortcutting.

Even the spectacular view can't make up for the inability to get a smile, or your water glass refilled. Bad service is endemic in Cairns, and tourism websites (like TripAdvisor) are jammed with tourist complaints about this nonsense. Locals who suffer in silence are also to blame - they should bitch long and loud to management when their overpriced meals are delivered poorly prepared by surly or non-english-speaking wait staff. Even those restaurants currently looking to be OK (Barnacle Bill's, Dundee's, Villa Romana) have seen their standards decline precipitously over the last few years.

Why the proliferation of "fast food" and other chains? Because the service there is terrific, enforced by franchisors who have rigid standards for performance.

When are the restauranteurs going to learn? I guess another dozen casualties isn't out of the question.

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