The one constant in life is change, and that old axiom certainly applies to the restaurant business – even at highly acclaimed restaurants with celebrity chefs and world-class wine lists.
A city such as Las Vegas, which has been hit particularly hard by the country’s economic downturn of the past few years, is especially ripe for change.
And so it was in 2010, when three celebrity chefs shuttered their locations on The Strip.
Charlie Trotter still has the magic touch in Chicago, but he’s now 0-for-2 in Vegas after closing down his restaurant at the Palazzo. There were no complaints about the food, but the high prices kept locals away at a time when the tourism market also was hurting.
Daniel Boulud had a highly rated brasserie at Wynn’s, but it, too, fell victim to the sluggish economy.
And at The Venetian, you can still have your picture taken beside David Burke’s famed Humpty Dumpty statue… but you can no longer dine on Burke’s incredibly innovative cooking.
Burke-run restaurants continue to operate in other cities, and he has kept his creative juices flowing by designing the menu for the new Bowlmor “bowling lounge” on New York City’s Times Square.
Given the aforementioned defections, kudos to Hubert Keller for keeping his operation going at Mandalay Bay. Rather than closing Fleur de Lys, he transformed the formal French restaurant into a small plates haven dubbed Fleur by Hubert Keller.
Yes, the portions are smaller, but the prices also are lower.
Which means you may be able to afford a decent bottle of wine with Keller’s fabulous food.