Death of a Restaurant and The News & Observer

starlu.jpgAndrea Weigl wrote a super piece on the closing of Starlu in today’s N&O, including a poignant description of the restaurant’s final day. Weigl really captured the emotion, the economics and the reality of a chef-owned restaurant. This article is a must read for anyone who believes their favorite restaurant will always be around or for a chef contemplating opening his or her own place. The final paragraphs put a lump in my throat.

On another note, have y’all noticed how much the N&O’s food coverage has improved? With two full-time food reporters in Weigl and Amber Nimocks, Greg Cox’s expanded role beyond mere restaurant criticism, and columns by Debbie Moose and Fred Thompson, we here in the Triangle now have some of the best food writing in the Southeast. Several of these individuals are good friends of mine, so I may be a little biased, but the proof is in the print: the writing is tighter, more relevant, and frankly, a lot more fun. So we should give credit where credit is due and congratulate the N&O for expanding their food coverage when many dailies have cut back.


4 Responses to Death of a Restaurant and The News & Observer

  1. valerio says:

    I rear the article: I agree in how hard it is the restaurant business, but I also want to express the frustration of dealing with this world as a vendor. I wish Sam the best luck and I am sure he is a great chef. I should have followed his work and stayed close to him to get reciprocal motivation. I also would like to suggest to all the people to adventure in the business to keep it small: it is better 400 people for 10 $, or 100 for $40?

  2. PolitiPornster says:

    Varmint, you’re right on the money about the biz and the N&O’s food section. After reading the article I came to regret never having tried the STARLU. C’est la vie.

    As for the writing, after having moved here from DC, I’ve really been impressed with the N&O’s food section writers. Being a newbie to Raleigh I rely on the food critics, yourself included, a little more these days. Beyond survival, and can honestly say that I haven’t enjoyed reading the food section of a paper this much since Phyllis Richman retired from the Wash. Post. It was always a treat to read about the gastronomic adventure of The Grande Dame of food in DC. The N&O folks are growing on me.

  3. Jeff says:

    I read the article and had the same thought about the N&O. As for Starlu, I had never heard of it until yesterday. Blame the restaurant’s demise on location, Katrina, local belt-tightening, or whatever, but it helps if your existence is a little more widely known.

  4. Chuck Samuels says:

    Yes, Varmint! Well written and throat lump inducing as well.

    Of the handful times we could make it to Starlu, the most memorable was last summer. With a two-year old, it’s hard to get out for dinner often, and even harder when you have to get a sitter, so we went down to Starlu for an early supper with Phoebe and little M in tow. There were just a handful of other folks there, some getting an after-work drink or a quick bite. The staff was incredibly accommodating, bringing out some quick snacks for M, and cocktails for Phoebe and me. Sam came out and greeted us; he and Phoebe have been pals in the biz for a while. He returned to the kitchen and soon came back with some extra snacks for us and a couple of bendy toys for M.

    As anyone with kids knows, attention spans will usually not last much past appetizers, and M began to get pretty fidgety. Noticing our difficulties, Sam returned to our table and volunteered to take Marilyn on a tour of the kitchen and go see the fountain outside. It was a warm summer evening and M was smitten! Sam entertained M for at least twenty minutes giving Phoebe and me a chance to enjoy the rest of our food and even fit in another glass of wine. This turned out to be our last visit to Starlu.

    Starlu may have gotten some things wrong; location, planning, who knows. But one thing they got right more than most other restaurants was personal service and amazing hospitality. That will be unforgettable to me.

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