Thursday, July 07, 2005

Malibu for Women? Chicks only.

Ahh, where o where has the late great Malibu on Maryland gone? Rick Coombes threw in the towel over the holiday weekend and a new developer already has plans for the space. As reported in the IBJ, the new developers are retooling the space to cater (so to speak) to women. In a somewhat strange turn, Chef Tony Hanslits is staying as executive chef.

Somehow, this whole concept just seems off to me. Maybe they haven't figured out yet that the reason most downtown restaurants (read: expensive and steakhouses) cater to men is that a) most expense account dinners are paid for by men, i.e. legislators, business execs and lobbyists, b) men like dark steakhouse places even when they take women out, c) men usually pick up the check and women like to go where men like, and d) women may dine on their own, but they often want to go where the men are. I'm just not sure how many shades of "bad idea" this place is going to be painted. I hope they make it, but I won't be going there. Who wants to schmooze at the bar when it's all chicks? I'll stick with Ruth's Chris, Mo's, or Oceanaire, thankyouverymuch. Plus, that last quote smacks of a developer who is about to learn the realities of the restaurant business the hard way. "It's going to be pretty." Well, that's good to know.

From the IBJ:

Restaurant to replace downtown Malibu

14 West, a California-style restaurant, is moving in at 14 W. Maryland St. To be developed by locally based Fisbeck-Fortune Development LLC, a division of Fortune Diversified Industries Inc., the restaurant will replace Malibu on Maryland, which closed its doors unexpectedly July 5. Fisbeck-Fortune plans to spend $500,000 to renovate the restaurant into what partner John Fisbeck calls a high-end "woman-friendly" place with lots of color.

"It's a new concept," Fisbeck said. The city has enough steakhouses, he added. Fisbeck's group signed a long-term lease for the basement, first and second floors of the old Indiana News Co. building and plans to open the eatery Oct. 1. Edward Locke Jr., who previously managed PF Chang's, will run 14 West, Fisbeck said.

Rick Coombes, who owned Malibu on Maryland, will continue to run the hotel suites on the third and fourth floors, Fisbeck said. Coombes did not return a telephone call seeking comment before IBJ Daily deadline. Employees of Malibu on Maryland did not know about the change and some showed up July 5 for work. "It's unfortunate for the employees," Fisbeck said. His group plans to keep some of the management team in place, he said. Chef Tony Hanslits also will stay, he said. Hiring is slated to begin Aug. 1, and training Sept. 1."It's good to have independent restaurants here," Fisbeck said. "It's gonna be pretty."

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