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New Restaurants - Opening too soon - Irreparable damage!


Carnivore
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Saturday evening, my wife and I decided to have a look at two of the newer Ajijic restaurants.  First we went to the soon to be signed "El Sombrero". (Immediately to the west of El Barco - I believe the restaurant was previously called "Blue Moon".)  It was just before 7:00p.m..  Two adults and two children occupied a single table.  We sat down and the waiter brought us what appeared to be "temporary" menus.  As there were no bottles wines listed we asked if there was a wine menu.  The waiter said that there wasn't a menu but did we want red or white?  We asked what wines were available and he responded: "Red and White".  He hadn't realized that we wanted to order a bottle of wine so we again asked what wine was available.  As our table was close to the bar we could see several bottles of different wines.  I asked if I could look closer at the bottled wines behind the bar and as he didn't appear to be concerned I walked to the bar and saw that all but two of the bottles represented a pretty poor and very low cost selection.  I suspect that any one of those bottles represented the "red or white" house wine that would be served by the glass.  The only two other bottled wines were considerably "higher end" Mexican wines and I inquired about the price.  The waiter had no idea but said that he would find out.  He approached a woman employee who appeared to be the "cashier".  She also didn't know the price.  Nor did the one other male waiter!   Our waiter said that they would have to make a phone call which he did and when he returned to our table a few minutes later, informed us that either of the two bottles would be $700.00MN.  By then we had been in the restaurant about 15 minutes and we were the only customers remaining.  Something simply didn't feel right.  If the front of house staff on a Saturday night weren't trained or prepared to function what might the back of house (kitchen) be like?  Why run the risk of a ruined Saturday night?   We left and decided to make our first visit to "Scallions" which is adjacent to El Torito.

We arrived at Scallions about 7:20pm.  Not one patron inside the restaurant.  A man and woman sitting on the outside terrace with drinks.  We took a few minutes to look at the menus that were posted on the exterior wall of the restaurant and were quite impressed by the rather extensive offerings and noticed that the largest percentage could best be described as Italian and, in many cases not just the simplest of meals.  By then a waiter had noticed us and approached with menus and asked where we would like to sit.

We asked if we could have a look at their wine menu.  He informed us that they didn't have one but did we want red or white?  Saturday night, no customers to speak of, a totally empty restaurant.  Why again run the risk of a ruined Saturday night?

Thank goodness we were just a few strides away from Alex's Pasta and..........a full restaurant with well trained and courteous staff..........a great meal we had............. with a bottle of excellent wine!

 A Saturday night saved!

Sadly, people continue to spend their savings and open what they hope might actually become a successful restaurant.  A restaurant with loyal patrons.  Sadly, some restaurants open before they are actually ready and even more sadly, in doing so,  "the seeds of failure are sown".  Far too soon the operators or investors find that "something is not working".  The reality is that something wasn't working from the day they opened their doors and it's best described as: 1. Poor or no real planning!  2. Inadequate training of staff (or themselves).  3. Zero thought given to any examination of exactly what segment of the population, local or otherwise, might become their clientele?

Like my wife and I, other people have possibly had a similar experience.  Or sometime soon they might at either of these two restaurants. That type of experience, unfortunately could result in the client NEVER RETURNING!  

Edited by Carnivore
Punctuation change.
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We haven't been to El Sombrero, but did try Scallions for lunch a couple of months ago. Not good, not bad, but just "meh" in all respects. It's not worth a second chance when there are over a dozen tried and true places that we enjoy. 

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I go to Scallions several times per week, usually for breakfast. The food is served on very large plates and the amount of food served is also quite a bit more than one would expect. The service is fast, and I think they will do well once they are discovered by more patrons.

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36 minutes ago, Yo1 said:

The fish restaurant near Sunrise has been there a couple of years and has never done well.  Their other restaurants out by SJC and in Guad serve inferior food, so I image this branch of their restaurant was the same.

Yo 1 I am sure that you are aware that the respective restaurants out in SJC are booming with customers every week end. I would assume that the Tapito  customers would not return to waste their money on  "inferior" food....or maybe they just go there for fake "jungle" and "pirate" scene to placate their kids?

Since its inception I have never understood why the SAT location always has looked empty, but then I have never visited that SAT location

If the barometer of a good economy is judged by the busyness of the restaurant trade, to day, seeing how crazy people are trying to park and get into the SJC restaurant  "mile", the economy is doing well, and by the way not a junk car parked there , new SUV's , BMW's and flashy sports cars.... unloading  whole families. 

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We have had more than several very good meals at Scallions with the veal marsala and Kung Pao Chicken particularly good. Crab cake and calamari are good too and can do for 2-3 as an appetizer. 

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2 hours ago, lakeside7 said:

Yo 1 I am sure that you are aware that the respective restaurants out in SJC are booming with customers every week end. I would assume that the Tapito  customers would not return to waste their money on  "inferior" food....or maybe they just go there for fake "jungle" and "pirate" scene to placate their kids?

Since its inception I have never understood why the SAT location always has looked empty, but then I have never visited that SAT location

If the barometer of a good economy is judged by the busyness of the restaurant trade, to day, seeing how crazy people are trying to park and get into the SJC restaurant  "mile", the economy is doing well, and by the way not a junk car parked there , new SUV's , BMW's and flashy sports cars.... unloading  whole families. 

The fish restaurant of which I write doesn't have a fake jungle, etc.  What it has is inferior food that only Tapitios on the weekends would eat.  That's why it's so empty on the weekdays.  I used to live down from their corner until recently and saw how empty they were, especially on the weekdays.

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3 hours ago, lakeside7 said:

Yo 1 I am sure that you are aware that the respective restaurants out in SJC are booming with customers every week end. I would assume that the Tapito  customers would not return to waste their money on  "inferior" food....or maybe they just go there for fake "jungle" and "pirate" scene to placate their kids?

Exactly correct. They are on vacation, weekend or otherwise. Prices are very high. Quality iffy. They tried the same stunt in SAT and it failed miserably.

Concerning Scallion, the owner is generally NOB, and when he's away...

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3 hours ago, Yo1 said:

 

The fish restaurant of which I write doesn't have a fake jungle, etc.  What it has is inferior food that only Tapitios on the weekends would eat.  That's why it's so empty on the weekdays.  I used to live down from their corner until recently and saw how empty they were, especially on the weekdays.

Are you talking about the restaurant in Piedra Barrenada with all the paper mache African animals or what?  That is what lakeside 7 is referring to and not the location in SAT.  It sits right on the water front  and there isn´t any "down from their corner". 

I think location has everything to do with the difference in the amount of business by two restaurants with the same owner.  I also heard the SAT location was a franchise operation and that could make a difference too, as they seem to have restaurants scattered over a wide area.

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Although this has become a restaurant review, I respond to the original post-  yes, many businesses open before they are really ready to serve the public properly. They have spent so much money getting set-up that they jump the gun, trying to recoup some of their costs. It's bad business sense and doesn't get them off to a great start. I've gone to restaurants where the food was fine, but the chairs were cheap and really uncomfortable. When I commented that they could really use some decent cushions on the chairs, I was told that they are planning on it, but they can't afford it yet. Business owners would do well to open small, but complete. They can always upgrade and add things later. Better to have 8 tables with comfortable chairs and a well-trained staff than 20 tables with hard, uncomfortable seats and staff that's just winging it.

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20 hours ago, Carnivore said:

Saturday evening, my wife and I decided to have a look at two of the newer Ajijic restaurants.  First we went to the soon to be signed "El Sombrero". (Immediately to the west of El Barco - I believe the restaurant was previously called "Blue Moon".)  It was just before 7:00p.m..  Two adults and two children occupied a single table.  We sat down and the waiter brought us what appeared to be "temporary" menus.  As there were no bottles wines listed we asked if there was a wine menu.  The waiter said that there wasn't a menu but did we want red or white?  We asked what wines were available and he responded: "Red and White".  He hadn't realized that we wanted to order a bottle of wine so we again asked what wine was available.  As our table was close to the bar we could see several bottles of different wines.  I asked if I could look closer at the bottled wines behind the bar and as he didn't appear to be concerned I walked to the bar and saw that all but two of the bottles represented a pretty poor and very low cost selection.  I suspect that any one of those bottles represented the "red or white" house wine that would be served by the glass.  The only two other bottled wines were considerably "higher end" Mexican wines and I inquired about the price.  The waiter had no idea but said that he would find out.  He approached a woman employee who appeared to be the "cashier".  She also didn't know the price.  Nor did the one other male waiter!   Our waiter said that they would have to make a phone call which he did and when he returned to our table a few minutes later, informed us that either of the two bottles would be $700.00MN.  By then we had been in the restaurant about 15 minutes and we were the only customers remaining.  Something simply didn't feel right.  If the front of house staff on a Saturday night weren't trained or prepared to function what might the back of house (kitchen) be like?  Why run the risk of a ruined Saturday night?   We left and decided to make our first visit to "Scallions" which is adjacent to El Torito.

We arrived at Scallions about 7:20pm.  Not one patron inside the restaurant.  A man and woman sitting on the outside terrace with drinks.  We took a few minutes to look at the menus that were posted on the exterior wall of the restaurant and were quite impressed by the rather extensive offerings and noticed that the largest percentage could best be described as Italian and, in many cases not just the simplest of meals.  By then a waiter had noticed us and approached with menus and asked where we would like to sit.

We asked if we could have a look at their wine menu.  He informed us that they didn't have one but did we want red or white?  Saturday night, no customers to speak of, a totally empty restaurant.  Why again run the risk of a ruined Saturday night?

Thank goodness we were just a few strides away from Alex's Pasta and..........a full restaurant with well trained and courteous staff..........a great meal we had............. with a bottle of excellent wine!

 A Saturday night saved!

Sadly, people continue to spend their savings and open what they hope might actually become a successful restaurant.  A restaurant with loyal patrons.  Sadly, some restaurants open before they are actually ready and even more sadly, in doing so,  "the seeds of failure are sown".  Far too soon the operators or investors find that "something is not working".  The reality is that something wasn't working from the day they opened their doors and it's best described as: 1. Poor or no real planning!  2. Inadequate training of staff (or themselves).  3. Zero thought given to any examination of exactly what segment of the population, local or otherwise, might become their clientele?

Like my wife and I, other people have possibly had a similar experience.  Or sometime soon they might at either of these two restaurants. That type of experience, unfortunately could result in the client NEVER RETURNING!  

Not positive if this is the same location but...more than 15 years ago there was a restaurant there or very close by that seemed to also be deserted with waiters just standing around. Several local (Mexican) business owners told us it was a money laundering operation for an owner who had "business ties" NOB. So contrary to the OP's opinion it was a failure, we were told it was very successful at doing what it was intended to do. "Customers" were not needed...or wanted.

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And here's another side/rant:  restaurants that start off well, have great staff and reasonable/fair prices and do well. Once they get established, they start to cut corners and expect customer loyalty when the food goes from great to meh. Original Tony's looks like they may be heading down that path. When it was changed over to his children, hubby and I raved over the plating and food. All was the consistent quality that we had come to know and love. Now, it seems that the portions are shrinking and the quality is going downhill. Ribs are being cut into slices and the portions are ridiculously small and drowning in sauce to hide their shrinkage. Hubby's last order of French fries took a magnifying glass to find. We're hoping that this was just a blip and they'll soon get back to their usual high standards. At any rate, I'll give them another chance because the other dishes have stayed pretty consistent...

BUT...we tried several times to go to Tony's Campestre when it first opened, but could never get the timing right. Finally went several weeks ago. BIG mistake. Hubby had ribs and I had fish. Hubby's ribs had been cooked to hell and back and were then cut up into pieces so it looked like there was more than there was. Overall, they were dry, grisly and inedible...and Tony was the chef. My fish was to be unbreaded and grilled. It came to me swimming in its own ocean of oil. The waiter was befuddled (trying to be kind) and barely able to handle the order. Merlot couldn't be bought by the glass, only by the bottle. The red that did come was refrigerator cold (!). That was our first and last trip to Campestre. Honestly, it was horrible.

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You know how it goes: when the money doesn't come rolling in, replace the chef with a cook. Then let some staff go. Then stop buying all the items your menu needs. Then, change your hours and close on certain days without letting anyone know. And make sure you as owner are rarely in attendance. Poof!

Interesting about Tony's: I had seen reviews on this board over the last year that said it had improved again. I didn't trust those reviews enough, but instead started going to the campestre location. Only once in 10 visits have there been any disappointments. Large portions, consistently cooked. You never can tell.

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On 10/13/2019 at 11:24 AM, Carnivore said:

Saturday evening, my wife and I decided to have a look at two of the newer Ajijic restaurants.  First we went to the soon to be signed "El Sombrero". (Immediately to the west of El Barco - I believe the restaurant was previously called "Blue Moon".)  It was just before 7:00p.m..  Two adults and two children occupied a single table.  We sat down and the waiter brought us what appeared to be "temporary" menus.  As there were no bottles wines listed we asked if there was a wine menu.  The waiter said that there wasn't a menu but did we want red or white?  We asked what wines were available and he responded: "Red and White".  He hadn't realized that we wanted to order a bottle of wine so we again asked what wine was available.  As our table was close to the bar we could see several bottles of different wines.  I asked if I could look closer at the bottled wines behind the bar and as he didn't appear to be concerned I walked to the bar and saw that all but two of the bottles represented a pretty poor and very low cost selection.  I suspect that any one of those bottles represented the "red or white" house wine that would be served by the glass.  The only two other bottled wines were considerably "higher end" Mexican wines and I inquired about the price.  The waiter had no idea but said that he would find out.  He approached a woman employee who appeared to be the "cashier".  She also didn't know the price.  Nor did the one other male waiter!   Our waiter said that they would have to make a phone call which he did and when he returned to our table a few minutes later, informed us that either of the two bottles would be $700.00MN.  By then we had been in the restaurant about 15 minutes and we were the only customers remaining.  Something simply didn't feel right.  If the front of house staff on a Saturday night weren't trained or prepared to function what might the back of house (kitchen) be like?  Why run the risk of a ruined Saturday night?   We left and decided to make our first visit to "Scallions" which is adjacent to El Torito.

We arrived at Scallions about 7:20pm.  Not one patron inside the restaurant.  A man and woman sitting on the outside terrace with drinks.  We took a few minutes to look at the menus that were posted on the exterior wall of the restaurant and were quite impressed by the rather extensive offerings and noticed that the largest percentage could best be described as Italian and, in many cases not just the simplest of meals.  By then a waiter had noticed us and approached with menus and asked where we would like to sit.

We asked if we could have a look at their wine menu.  He informed us that they didn't have one but did we want red or white?  Saturday night, no customers to speak of, a totally empty restaurant.  Why again run the risk of a ruined Saturday night?

Thank goodness we were just a few strides away from Alex's Pasta and..........a full restaurant with well trained and courteous staff..........a great meal we had............. with a bottle of excellent wine!

 A Saturday night saved!

Sadly, people continue to spend their savings and open what they hope might actually become a successful restaurant.  A restaurant with loyal patrons.  Sadly, some restaurants open before they are actually ready and even more sadly, in doing so,  "the seeds of failure are sown".  Far too soon the operators or investors find that "something is not working".  The reality is that something wasn't working from the day they opened their doors and it's best described as: 1. Poor or no real planning!  2. Inadequate training of staff (or themselves).  3. Zero thought given to any examination of exactly what segment of the population, local or otherwise, might become their clientele?

Like my wife and I, other people have possibly had a similar experience.  Or sometime soon they might at either of these two restaurants. That type of experience, unfortunately could result in the client NEVER RETURNING!  

You seem like you'd be happier in a place that isn't Mexico. Eat at a fucking taco stand, my friend.

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1 hour ago, ficklepie said:

You seem like you'd be happier in a place that isn't Mexico. Eat at a f****** taco stand, my friend.

That is simply a stupid and rude thing to say. It shows no depth, just vitriol. Not at all welcome here. Not in any way.

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Fickle...?   Real easy to be ultra aggressive when you hide behind  a cute little nom de plum .  Before I gave up on Scallions ( 3 visits)  every time I went ...same performance...no idea what wines ..no idea the prices . A simple blackboard effort would suffice .  Eventually restaurants  ,  like water   tend to find their own level...every time we  eat at  Alex’s , La pacena and Cocinart they’re busy even in the summer . Maybe carnivore’ s post was a little over your head ...restaurant exposure wise ?

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