Monday, October 06, 2008

When Will Puck's Go? Please say "soon."

Is Puck's on the way out? (Please say "yes.") In mid-September, Susan Guyette reported the IMA was once again reviewing its contract situation with caterers and, finally, with fine-dining restaurant Puck's. Every year about this time, we hear from the IMA that they're unhappy with some aspect of Wolfgang Puck's corporate operation. Puck's has limited hours and the issue on the face of it is that museum-goers can't get a snack when both Puck's and cafe are closed. The real issue is that the contract between Puck's and the IMA requires the museum to make up revenue shortfalls for the restaurant operation. In other words, the board writes a sizeable check to Wolfgang Puck at the end of the year when they don't meet minimums. Many at the IMA feel having the cache of a Puck's at our museum is worth it. Others feel the food-service provider should be local. (Kahn's Katering runs the Sky City Cafe at the Eitlejorg.) Ultimately, it's about the quality of the food and service relative to the price. Frankly, I've always had an issue with a non-profit -- and fundraising machine -- like the IMA paying a significant amount of money to Puck's -- especially when the product has been so sub-par. (Who here hasn't seen that Chinois chicken salad on the menu and snickered thinking it will be the same as the airport version -- and it is!)


So the question is what should be next for dining at the IMA? Wouldn't it be great to see them bring in an honest-to-goodness *good* chef who could build a terrific fine-dining restaurant there as a destination? Catering options are on a separate contract, so it could run independently. However, catering can be a lucrative side-business if handled correctly. Regardless, service issues *must* be addressed. Puck's has always had ridiculously high-brow service, mis-information, and reservations screwups with no recourse but attitude. The space is beautiful and a chef-driven restaurant could be a great ticket. Hey, it seems like we have a few of our best chefs "taking some time off" these days. Maybe the stars will align with a great food opportunity.

6 comments:

Jim said...

I agree whole-heartedly. Puck's is a terrible waste of money for the IMA.

shoverbj said...

While the food isn't the best I've had in Indy (definitely had better, but definitely had worse), the service when I was there 3 years ago was amazing. Of course, most of the nights highlights were due to me proposing to my now wife. So maybe that had something to do with it, but my one experience was great.

braingirl said...

Um, yes, I'd guess your experience was atypical due to the proposal. I don't know many restaurants that wouldn't go out of their way to ensure you had a terrific evening.

Kirsten said...

How great would it be to have a good local chef in there? To have someone leading the restaurant who understands the diversity of the local market and local produce.

I don't think an absentee name is better than a present talent, even if the talent doesn't have a licensing deal for unpalatable canned soups.

alan said...
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braingirl said...

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