Location, Location, Location! It is the mantra every business owner needs to know and needs to know well. It does not matter who you are, or how good your product is, if your community does not support you, your business is bound to fail.
I would not say Michael Symon, his wife Liz, and business partner Doug Petkovic failed in the classic sense having to close their first restaurant in Bar Symon but I would say Avon Lake and West Side of Cleveland failed them. In an attempt to bring a touch of the “hipster” culture of Tremont and Ohio City to the far west suburbs, the community would simply not support it. Bar Symon was a gift to the area that was not appreciated nor wanted.
When Bar Symon first opened in July of 2009, business was booming. Months later after the novelty wore off, business died. Weekends were still fairly busy with waits for tables averaging 45 minutes to an hour and a half during peak times. During the week, one could walk in off the street and be seated immediately or within enough time to have a drink at the bar. Both kitchen and front of the house staff were being cut or having their hours reduced. Salaried kitchen staff was picking up the slack for the cut hourly help. Warning signs were there, but there was hope it would all turn around.
A little over a year later on October 30, 2010 Michael Symon will close the door to Bar Symon in Avon Lake for good. General Manager Nolan Cleary will join the management team at Lola Bistro on E. 4th St., Executive Chef Matthew “Chatty” Harlan will change roles and assume the General Manager role at Lolita in Tremont, the kitchen where he came from originally. Sous Chef Jason Bryson had departed a month earlier to join French Master Chef Daniel Boulud’s culinary team at the new db Bistro Moderne at the JW Marriot Marquis Hotel opening in Miami, Fl. Chef Cory Hess is also leaving Michael Symon Restarants to run the kitchen at Bistro on Lincoln Park in Tremont. Rounding out the core kitchen staff, Chef Jonathan Bito will explore culinary opportunities in the country of Panama where his girlfriend currently resides.
What will occupy the space left by the departure of Bar Symon? It’s anyone’s guess. Perhaps a casual chain restaurant? It might be the only one that will stand a chance in the area!