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Last week, I was at the small restaurant across from the Greenwich Hotel chatting with an employee from Locanda Verde: the Andrew Carmellini restaurant that has been plagued by bad reviews and poor hospitality of late. I asked him who was the chef, and he dodged the question. I eventually learned that they have had a change of chefs, again: Red flag #1.
This week, another Andrew Carmellini restaurant opened, Little Park in the newly renovated Smyth Hotel in Tribeca. I stopped by during the day and got the name of the manager for the restaurant. I reached out to Ed via email, and got no reply. I repeated the email three times, when a person named Jacque finally emailed me (did not bother to call): Red flag #2.
I stopped by the restaurant tonight, on a Thursday, when I spotted walking toward me an employee I know from another failed restaurant. This employee was one of the worst at that establishment: Red flag #3.
I wanted to just sit at the bar and eat. Most of the people at the bar were cheapskates drinking. At Locanda Verde, they will promptly boot the drinkers in favor of an eater. Not the case here: Red flag #4.
I decided to kill some time over at the new hotel bar, which is managed by the restaurant. It is indeed a great improvement over the old one, but that is not saying much though. The bartender served me something from the “beer” menu, but it was clearly a cider and not a beer. I asked her about this a couple of times, and she just said, “It is saltier than most beers”.
She also had “no clue” as to what hotel group the Smyth belonged, which is odd since her paycheck must say “The Thompson Group”.
I tried to order the IPA beer, and they did not have that behind the bar.
It was painfully obvious that this lady had never bartended before and was thrown into the mix without proper training: Red flag #5.
The man next to me ordered the $18 hamburger (made by the restaurant) which was normal looking and nothing worthy of $18. The fries were an extra $7, which he skipped. The prices are clearly insulting hotel bar prices: Red flag #7.
Before going out, I was able to purchase some food at Whole Foods, and pay for the taxi that took me to the Smyth. When I went to pay my $18 bar tab, my card was declined. I went across the street to the bank and verified that I had significant funds in my account. I walked back over to the Smyth and spoke to a manager. She had no explanation and seemed to have little concern.
In cases like this, a risky establishment can trigger cards to be deactivated. It is usually stripclubs or nightclubs with bottle service. Why the Smyth triggered my card to be deactivated as a fraud alert is very bizarre: Red flag #8.
How was the food? Hell if I know. I never got that far. Please post comments if you ever try it out.
If the events above happened anywhere else, I would give the establishment the benefit of the doubt as a new restaurant. However, my past experiences at Locanda Verde tends to make me think that these are all red flags indicative of a bigger problem of a restaurant group that has expanded too fast, or that lacks competent management.