Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kitchen In-Class-In-Only-Your-Underwear

Back in the day, those of you in Chicago had a restaurant called 'The Great Gritzbe's Flying Food Show'. The restaurant opened in 1974, the product of Richard Melman's Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. Melman has over the years had a stellar track record with his various restaurants, and the Great Gritzbe's was no different. A couple screenshots of the place can be found here.

So, no problem, right? Successful restaurant, part of a successful empire, nothing to see here? Not so much.

In 1983, sales were slipping- though still profitable- and the Flying Food Show had a lease coming up for expiration. Melman's decision was to change the name of the restaurant. Out of the ashes of the Great Gritzbe's Flying Food Show came...

...the Not So Great Gritzbe's. Complete with posters for Tums and Alka-Seltzer.

Now, to be fair, if the goal here was to get a laugh out of the customers, that certainly did the trick. Customers did laugh. But that's not the goal of a restaurant. That's the goal of a comedy club. The goal of a restaurant is to make money. And after the customers had their laugh, they went and found a restaurant that didn't have Tums and Alka-Seltzer on the walls. The still-perfectly-respectable profits went right out the window, and The Not-So-Great Gritzbe's became the Closed-For-Business Gritzbe's within six months.

As Melman himself admitted in the inc. article linked earlier, "Boy, that was stupid. It would have kept making money if I hadn't done that."

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