Friday, November 03, 2006

Back in Black II: Horror of the Sweatpants

Talk about depressing, today I went clothes shopping. It seems like when I haven't been working, I've been eating. And when I've been eating, it's been fantastic. So fantastic, that like many food editors I know, I've started packing on the winter pounds early. (Although, my pre-winter weight gain wasn't due to eating at every Mexican restaurant in town like one food editor I know.) Even though the color black is slimming, there's only so much one color can do! I opted against any fancy holiday outfits and bought a bathrobe instead.

While I eat, here are some culinary tidbits to hold you over.

Monument Circle: Worst. Starbucks. Ever. How is it possible that the cute little Starbucks on Monument Circle has turned into the coffee shop from hell? They remodeled and expanded the tiny space and somehow ended up with *fewer* tables and an even less room to stand in line. They compensate by a lame crowd control gauntlet and surly staff. And they so could have had all my love. (I have so much to give!) While most people in other cities are pretty confident that Starbucks will implode as it tries to take over the world, I have no such delusions. In cities like SF or Seattle, they already are the coffee of last resort, but like cockroaches, they'll survive, long after competing chains like Peet's or Noah's or Oo La La are gone. My prediction? Starbucks is still going to be going strong in Indiana as along as they're pumping chai shots into $4 cups of steaming milk. (And when they take over the world? Sure, we'll have evil overlords with a green logo, but at least we'll be able to get a cup of coffee.)

Au Bon Pain Opens When? Speaking of slow and surly renovations down on Monument Circle, anyone know the ETA for the long-awaited Au Bon Pain? I predict the place will be mobbed before the new shine has even come off the oh-so-French pans of bread. (Come on, all you Emmis readers, share what you know!)

Chipotle vs Qdoba: Let's have a naked burrito-off. Say what you like about either of these hard to pronounce pseudo-fast food joints, they do what they do very well. With the early success of Quoba in the local market, Chipotle is moving in fast and furious -- I've counted at least three new restaurants open just on the 86th St. corridor. They're popping up like weeds. Chipotle weeds. Sure, they're virtually the same product, but so are McDonald's and Burger King. These guys just use more cilantro.

Surly Hollywood Bar and Filmworks Owner Makes an Angry Exit: Meanwhile, many of you didn't miss the full page ad in yesterday's Indianapolis Star from Ted Balthaup, owner of the just-closed Hollywood Bar and Filmworks downtown. In it, he takes the mayor and his staff (including Democrat prosecutor candidate Melina Kennedy) to task for what he perceives to be the screwed up parking situation downtown. Trust me folks, I've lived in cities with screwed up downtown parking, I *know* difficult downtown parking, and Indianapolis, my friends, is *paradise*. So, before he goes off complaining and blaming the mayor, and the Simons, and Conseco, maybe he should step back and examine the other issues that created problems for his funky movie theater/restaurant: Impossible to find (weird upstairs location), not as nice as it could be, mediocre food that wasn't cheap, and most importantly, not in the local movie listsings! When patrons could spend the same money for a decent meal, park at the mall, and go to the mall theater, why, oh, why would they want to brave the Saturday night S. Meridian street mobs to find this weird little place? While everyone's knees start jerking in what's becoming the lastest discussion of "sad, independent business failure", I hope we all keep some perspective on what his business actually was.


Anonymous said...

Ted Balthaup is an idiot. There is a very large parking garage, not 10 yards from the ex Hollywood Bar and Filmworks. I park there every day and night, and I've never seen it full.

The parking situation downtown doesn't seem to keep the Slop Shop (aka Spaghetti Factory) or Hooters from keeping the lights on. If they can make it, who can't?

Jim said...

I completely agree with your commentary on the closing of Hollywood Bar and Filmworks. I have never found parking to be a problem in downtown. Maybe Ted needs to learn how to run a business.

Old Grouch said...

There's an important distinction in that HB&F (and any movie operation, generally) does 90+ percent of it business after 6 pm. Downtown restaurants usually have substantial lunch business, which helps balance the occasional bad evening.

Batlthaup is griping about the "event parking" surcharge that seems to hit every garage and lot within the mile square any time that something special is happening at Conseco or the dome.

"I park there every day and night, and I've never seen it full."

But who's going to pay $8-15 to park to see a movie when you can park free in the 'burbs. How many people see that "event charge" sign and just drive away? And you'd better believe that customers of the downtown clubs and restaurants ask themselves the same question every time they get hit with an unexpected surcharge. Ignoring the problem and calling Balthaup an idiot won't make it go away.

And Jim, sorry but "I've never found parking to be a problem downtown" doen't pass the smell test. You're not assigned a personal space in the CC garage, by any chance?

Anonymous said...

Re Qdoba/Chipotle...

Q was tasty until C came along. Both seem mediocre (i use "mediocre" here on a sliding scale that accounts for the fact that we're talking about americanized burrito chains) compared to Moe's Southwest Grill, which you'll immediately convert to once you've tried it. It's so much better I can't believe I ever slogged down the other stuff.