Sunday, July 09, 2006

larry b's, r.i.p.

Last year I wrote a post about what was then a new restaurant in Madison, Larry B's. I called it "the most doomed restaurant I have ever been to in my life," partly because they were serving diner food in a state with a high obesity rate and yet had these chairs that were awkward and uncomfortable to sit in if one was overweight. This was especially unfortunate because there was a story in the Cap Times about how the owners had sold all their possessions in order to buy the restaurant ("Our children think we're crazy").

Several months afterwards--but only a few minutes apart from one another--I got a couple comments to my Larry B's post:
This guy is obviously a professor with too much time on his hands to complain about a starting business. If you don't like their chairs, how bout you SAY something rather than taking the wuss way out and complain online to who knows what. Also, it takes awhile for a business to start out, and guess what, many weekends this semester boasted record sales and large success. If you want doomed, try being a sociology professor.

Hey man you have no right to post shit like this. Does it really affect you how the business of Larry B's does? Why do you feel you need to bash them when they are enjoying life and having fun running a restaurant with a staff that is like a second family?? Seriously man, get ur f-in priorities straight, and grow up.
Which did not exactly make me feel great, on several levels. When I was back in Madison this fall, I was staying downtown and thought I might be able to give the restaurant another fair shot by having breakfast. Their sign said they opened at 8, I got there at 8:15 and it wasn't open. The next morning, I had breakfast with someone at the Sun Room across the street, and we saw they still weren't open by 8:30 and there was somebody standing outside looking impatient because he was trying to make a delivery.

I've received two e-mails today that Larry B's has apparently closed their doors for good, so I won't get a chance to try them again. I cannot imagine how awful it would be to sell all your possessions in pursuit of a dream where your loved ones are telling you "you're crazy" and they turn out to be right. Having all your hard work end in failure is bad enough for the unfortunate side-effect in entrepeneurship of it also often ending in bankruptcy. In their defense, they did last longer than Moe's Southwest Grill and a few other places that have tried the campus side of State Street.

Meanwhile, here in Evanston, I was in a Starbucks (yes! go ahead and hate me!) that had one of their new highly-market-tested-and-refined breakfast sandwiches and, lo, it was delightful. All the harder for people whose dreams involve being an independent restauranteur open for breakfast.

20 comments:

dorotha said...

larry b's chairs weren't that bad. but there tortillas were, um, flaky. that was my big problem with the food.

still, you are right, it is sad to have your dreams squashed like that. and state street seems to have more than it's share of business that can't stay open.

Tom Bozzo said...

I saw your original Larry B's post as not exactly relishing the results of your analysis (though the food not being great, not exactly regretting it either). And anonymous comments saying how great the food are least authoritative form of argument there is. That/those person/people probably think the Laurel Tavern has good burgers, enjoy Quaker Steak, or something equally crazy. So you might as well say, "Doomed? I have tenure, so see you in hell, mwa ha ha ha!!"

Meanwhile, assuming the pastry is good, I hope a similar fate doesn't befall the patisserie set to open at the corner of Glenway & Speedway, which I understand is a side project of some well-to-do Shorewood Hills women who like to bake but don't have a lot of business experience. At least they won't be left homeless if they fail.

Anonymous said...

they had a tasty veggie melt, but you are so right: they were NEVER open.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

At least you never made a post that bridal shop salesgirls later used in an attempt to get their coworker fired.

Of course, I don't even feel that bad about it. I'm fairly wicked.

(Also, everyone who ever told me anything about Larry B's was negative on the subject. And some dreams are just clearly not realistic, or it SHOULD be clear that they're not, anyway. Ex: my dream of becoming an itinerant folk musician, a career for which I probably have about the same number of relevant skills that they had for restauranteuring.)

A+ said...

I've still never even eaten there, because every time it's a choice, someone in the group makes that squinchy "no way" face. And then I remembered Jeremy's chair warning and didn't push it.

Just out of curiosity, what makes a bar stool/chair uncomfortable for fat people?

Anonymous said...

The person who wrote the comment regarding your original post seems curiously familiar. I wonder if he/she is related to the "anonymous" blogger. He/She seems to be the only one with a negative sort of sentiment whenever you submit anything. I guess I'm just being a little protective of my younger sibling. Sorry I blew up.

Sister A said...

Whoops! I forgot to identify myself in the previous message.

Anonymous said...

"I cannot imagine how awful it would be to sell all your possessions in pursuit of a dream where your loved ones are telling you "you're crazy" and they turn out to be right."

Try to imagine it. Grad school entails a lot of sacrifices for some students, but it's virtually impossible to get an academic job in sociology at a 4-year institution. Entering graduate students aren't told this; in fact, it's sometimes actively kept from them.(Departments need a graduate program for labor and/or legitimacy.) Maybe the job placement rate for Madison students is stellar, but it drops off steeply after that.

carly said...

They're opening a patisserie at Glenway&Speedway. Wo-hoo! First we get EVP, and now pastry. Mmmmm. (I realize La Brioche is close...but it's not, you know, "on the way, so I might as well stop in" close)

jeremy said...

Carly: Did EVP close down that writing place that I was always curious about?

Anon 5:05: A routine part of what I tell prospective graduate students is that they should investigate the placement record of where they are considering going to school. I think a good use of ASA resources would be making systematic information about this available to students. I wonder if a resource could be developed toward that end.

Sister A: Don't worry about hostility toward me from anonymous commenters.

jeremy said...

Ang: The seats were these weird spacely-sprockets thing that weren't exactly great to fit into if your posterior was outside a certain range, and then, beyond that, they were also weighted strange so I kept feeling like I had to balance not to be tipped forward. It was really weirdly uncomfortable considering that it was, you know, a seat I was paying for.

RWS: I think it's important to recognize that even if people of your general cultural persuasion don't get to have a career in folk music, you can always spend your weekends on the filk circuit (either standard or its SCA equivalent). But if your dream is to open a restaurant, it's not like you can bounce around from Con to Con on the weekends doing a fake restaurant. I guess maybe if the Sims Online is still going one could perhaps be a restauranteur there.

jeremy said...

Tom: Oh my God. I didn't realize you had been to Quaker Steak. If you've posted a restaurant review, I have missed it. If you haven't, well, I can't believe you would soak up an experience like that and not share it with the rest of us.

Dorotha: State Street is dog eat dog eat Moe's. Remember the place where you could make your own video karaoke DVD was only open like a month.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Attention, JFW readers: do not believe anything Jeremy says about a) me and filk, or b) my family.

He lies. He slanders and libels. He is not to be trusted.

captain crab said...

The franchisng of America and "their
highly refined and market researched" products will be the down fall of the country. Although no one here seems to give a $%*@!

Anonymous said...

Yea, but we're still doomed.

carly said...

Well, EVP moved into the Write Place's old building, but they had been looking for a new tenant for a while. I think they may have moved to a new place, but I don't know... It is *so* nice to have a coffeeshop in the neighborhood, though. My only wish is that they were open later...

Anonymous said...

If you can't get a tenure track job after coming out of one of the top ranked sociology graduate programs than you're doing it wrong. Perhaps more research and less blogging will get you where you want to go.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:31 a.m.: You're *dreaming*! Take a look at the job placement at Top 10 schools -- if you can actually figure out a rate by cohort. Or better -- I'll tell you the job placement rate of my cohort: after *7 years* three out of ten people got academic jobs, only one of which was in sociology at a research university (Top 30). You remind me of the grad student on the market who told a dissertation seminar that "anyone who wants an academic job can get one." (Months later she was cursing her own fate on the market.) Flippancy does not an argument make.

Tom Bozzo said...

Jeremy: I have not been to Quaker Steak -- it was just the first thing that came to mind as an example of "If someone says it's great, I won't trust their evaluation of any other restaurant ever again." Should I be dragged there, Olive Garden, Hooters, or any all-you-can-eat place, I wouldn't deprive you of a review.

Carly is right that the Write Place (which I wondered about, too) closed and vacated some time before EVP took the space. Their fate seems to be addressed here.

Larry B said...

Thank you for all your thoughts, but let me set the record straight Larry B's did not go bankrupt we sold the business. Yes its true that things didn't turn out the way we hoped, but if you never try you'll always ask yourself what if. Believe me, the experience was well worth it. We met and had working for us some of the greatest people I have been fortunate enough to know. And to rhymes with scrabble, just because the restaurant didn't make it does not mean we did not have any restuarant experience or knowledge. It is unfortuately sometimes the nature of the business, it eats up and throws away alot of good people. And unfortunately we all like to think State st. is the gold mine we are all looking for but it is very unforgiving and a very hard location to succeed in. But again, let me say that I have enjoyed reading your posts and Thank you for letting me say my 2 cents.