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Sad News: Eighty One closing

Steve Cuozzo in the Post has the sad news that Eighty One will be closing after service on Sunday, April 4. Cuozzo, who was always a fan of the place, thought that it served “possibly the best food in the Upper West Side’s history.”

Chef Ed Brown summarized Eighty One’s problem eloquently:

We started as a destination restaurant in a destination location. When the world fell apart, we changed to cope with it, with a lower-priced menu and more accessible food. But we weren’t able to change people’s perceptions that we were a special-occasion place — which is why we were always full for special occasions, but not on a daily basis.

He might also have mentioned Frank Bruni’s respectful but not ecstatic two-star review—probably one less than it deserved—and the fact that the hotel entrance was hidden by scaffolding for much of the two years the restaurant existed.

Reader Comments (3)

The Upper West side and W 81 St. are destination locations?

Where did he get that view?

I have lived on the UWS for many years. At one time - many years ago, the UWS was a destination location. Now the LES and many others are.

81's specific site wasn't the best. Hidden next to and behind a hotel lobby. 81 Street is high-end residential apartment buildings - J. Steinberg lives in one of them. There is a park across the street.

A few blocks away - north of 81 St. on Columbus, there have been about 4 eateries in the same location in the past 3 to 4 years. Newest addition on Columbus near 81 St. is a thrift shop -signs of the times.

I had a drink at 81's bar and one customer complained not only about her main course but also her dessert. I never went back. Did have an attractive lounge though.

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

I agree with you that the UWS is not a "destination location," if that term means "a place well known for destination restaurants." In recent times, Dovetail is the only comparable place nearby that has made it.

Although Dovetail and 81 were very similarly priced, Dovetail successfully created the perception that it was "a place you could just drop into." That's what 81 didn't have. The chef tried to make adjustments, but perceptions, once formed, are hard to alter.

I don't think the site mattered terribly much. If you can attract people to W. 77th (where Dovetail is located), you can attract them to W. 81st. If you swap the locations of Dovetail and 81, I am not convinced that the outcome changes.

March 31, 2010 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

Chef Ed Brown is one of the greatest chefs in the World.

If New Yorkers would get out of the mind set of "location, location!"; they would realize that great things are often hard to find; and rare things are often discovered with much effort, will and patience.

If it is convenience that one is looking for; stay home, pick up the phone, and order.

NYC has lost a World class restaurant. "One doesn't realize what you had; until it's gone."

Bon Appetit!

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharles Simmons

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