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jcrc

The Society Room Banquet Facility in the Former Joe Black's

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Unfortunately they just can't make it. Regrettably, I fear there are more to come.

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This is certainly bad news. Hopefully someone else will step in and open a place that will seem to resonate more with the locals. Joe Black's just never really seemed to catch on. I think maybe even a true nightclub would be better in that spot over a restaurant. They did a great job on the inside and I think someone with a different vision could really make a go at it there.

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Damn. This was a great place. I came Downtown specifically to go to Joe Black's. They did such a wonderful job inside, also. Hopefully someone will set up a new establishment soon. I think the only folks happy about this are the owners of McKinnon's Pub and Vaughan's Public House.

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That's too bad, I know they tried to make a go of it, just didn't seem to be working... I think the place looked more like an upscale steak house than an Irish Pub, I think the just missed on truly identifying themselves. I went a few times and the food was mediocre and service patchy. I think the space needs a restaurateur with a strong following, like a Grants or Max's to open up there...

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Joe Black's failed for a number of reasons.

1. Bad concept. Irish Pub? With a successful one two doors down and an Irish beer around the corner? Should have

been called something else, and been something else.

2. Bad food. By all accounts the food was known for nothing. No one ever said "I gotta have the ___ at Joe Black's."

3. Bad management. I saw on the news that the Attorney General is investigating Joe Black's for payroll violations, like

not paying people. An employee was interviewed who said he hadn't been paid in 6 weeks. They also started taking

the tips put on credit cards and giiving it to employees later, in some cases never.

4. No outdoor dining.

Maybe with Coach's closing it should become the city's pre-eminent sports bar. They could call it "Storrs in the City," or "Husky Hall," or how about "Randy Edsall's?"

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The problem with Joe Black's was the atmosphere. I'm 25, work downtown, I'm pretty sure I'm the desired demographic of everybody at this point. Walking into Joe Black's was never exciting. There was never a vibe to the place. It tried to be upscale or trendy but ended up giving off a very snobby vibe. Compare that to Dish, which also wants that upscale business, but there is a vibe to the place and an atmosphere when youre there.

It also gave no indication it was an Irish bar, like Vaughn's obviously does. I wish I had a boatload of money lined up to take that place over because it's a great space in a great location. I think that an owner would have to go out of their way to not succeed there.

The space is a perfect opportunity for a mixed place, with the front and side bars being a standard bar and turning the big room into a dance floor. Not to the extent of Up and on the Rocks, but just a fun place for people to cut loose a little bit on a Friday night. I know a few girls that want to go dancing, but there's no place in Hartford they would go.

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The problem with Joe Black's was the atmosphere. I'm 25, work downtown, I'm pretty sure I'm the desired demographic of everybody at this point. Walking into Joe Black's was never exciting. There was never a vibe to the place. It tried to be upscale or trendy but ended up giving off a very snobby vibe. Compare that to Dish, which also wants that upscale business, but there is a vibe to the place and an atmosphere when youre there.

It also gave no indication it was an Irish bar, like Vaughn's obviously does. I wish I had a boatload of money lined up to take that place over because it's a great space in a great location. I think that an owner would have to go out of their way to not succeed there.

The space is a perfect opportunity for a mixed place, with the front and side bars being a standard bar and turning the big room into a dance floor. Not to the extent of Up and on the Rocks, but just a fun place for people to cut loose a little bit on a Friday night. I know a few girls that want to go dancing, but there's no place in Hartford they would go.

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I think Toad's should take it over. There is as much space as Toads New Haven in the "ballroom."

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OK, so that sucks!

As I was walking by last night I noticed it was closed and there was a news crew walking by with a camera. They must have been setting up for a piece. Thats just really too bad.

I fear this bar opened maybe two or 3 years before Hartford was ready for it.

I hope someone with fairly deep pockets re opens it for the summer and can float it for the next few years as our downtown population rises.

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Joe Black's failed for a number of reasons.

1. Bad concept. Irish Pub? With a successful one two doors down and an Irish beer around the corner? Should have

been called something else, and been something else.

2. Bad food. By all accounts the food was known for nothing. No one ever said "I gotta have the ___ at Joe Black's."

3. Bad management. I saw on the news that the Attorney General is investigating Joe Black's for payroll violations, like

not paying people. An employee was interviewed who said he hadn't been paid in 6 weeks. They also started taking

the tips put on credit cards and giiving it to employees later, in some cases never.

4. No outdoor dining.

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I personally doubt if Joe Black were to open 3 years from now, they could have made a go at it. The place needs large large volume of money spending customers. The electric bill itself got to be over $10,000 a month. Even if the place comes rent free, by virtue of its size it is an incredibly hard place to make money.

I think you are way over estimate the purchasing power of "downtown population". Unless the downtown population rise to well above 20,000, with the amount of full scale restaurants we have in Hartford, most cannot survive without drawing heavily from the suburbs.

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The problem with Joe Black's was the atmosphere. I'm 25, work downtown, I'm pretty sure I'm the desired demographic of everybody at this point. Walking into Joe Black's was never exciting. There was never a vibe to the place. It tried to be upscale or trendy but ended up giving off a very snobby vibe. Compare that to Dish, which also wants that upscale business, but there is a vibe to the place and an atmosphere when youre there.

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I'll agree with most of the above sentiments. The problem with Joe Blacks is that it tried to be several things but was none of them well. It wasn't really the kind of place you would go to if you just wanted to go to a bar (especially an Irish pub, with Vaughn's two doors down). The menu in the restaurant really lacked an identity and wasn't very good. Most of the the times I ate there the service was really slow, which also didn't help. I agree that the main room should have been open as a dance area after a certain point in the night.

That said, the concept of Joe Blacks wasn't really the problem, the execution was. Playwright in New Haven has the exact same bar/restaurant/club concept and it is supported just fine.

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I think Toad's should take it over. There is as much space as Toads New Haven in the "ballroom."

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I'll agree with most of the above sentiments. The problem with Joe Blacks is that it tried to be several things but was none of them well. It wasn't really the kind of place you would go to if you just wanted to go to a bar (especially an Irish pub, with Vaughn's two doors down). The menu in the restaurant really lacked an identity and wasn't very good. Most of the the times I ate there the service was really slow, which also didn't help. I agree that the main room should have been open as a dance area after a certain point in the night.

That said, the concept of Joe Blacks wasn't really the problem, the execution was. Playwright in New Haven has the exact same bar/restaurant/club concept and it is supported just fine.

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I know we are all casual observers of the situation, and we can freely speculate how much better we can do had we giving a chance to run Joe Black. But without knowing all the constraints the owners were facing, we are merely making wild ass guesses and being back seat drivers. While some of you can assume you can make it a run away success, let's not forget some folks just lost their jobs, and other lost a huge investment sum, and some saw their dream turned into a horrible nightmare. Maybe it was due to bad management, maybe it was an impossible dream, one way or another I feel terrible for the people that were involved be them workers, managers or owners. Maybe I am being sensitive because they were my neighbors and my friends, but I have been in the food business for a long time. Believe me, it is tough. Study after study show more than 75% of the eating establishments do not make it to their 5 year anniversary. Does that mean there are a lot of poorly managed restaurant? No. It just mean the eating public is much harder to figure out than you think.

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I've never been to Playwright, so I could be wrong. but it looks like a nacho and wing beer joint catering to college kids, Joe Black is not. Playwright menu of Fried Calamari, Quesadillas and Buffalo wings hardly make any identification statement. I can't imaging Playwright has better food than Joe Black. Playwright has multiple colleges and universities to draw from, and I can imaging they do a decent business. Joe Black did not cater to the college kids. Its target market obviously did not materialize for them. But the two do not have a lot in common.

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I know we are all casual observers of the situation, and we can freely speculate how much better we can do had we giving a chance to run Joe Black. But without knowing all the constraints the owners were facing, we are merely making wild ass guesses and being back seat drivers. While some of you can assume you can make it a run away success, let's not forget some folks just lost their jobs, and other lost a huge investment sum, and some saw their dream turned into a horrible nightmare. Maybe it was due to bad management, maybe it was an impossible dream, one way or another I feel terrible for the people that were involved be them workers, managers or owners. Maybe I am being sensitive because they were my neighbors and my friends, but I have been in the food business for a long time. Believe me, it is tough. Study after study show more than 75% of the eating establishments do not make it to their 5 year anniversary. Does that mean there are a lot of poorly managed restaurant? No. It just mean the eating public is much harder to figure out than you think.

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Study after study show more than 75% of the eating establishments do not make it to their 5 year anniversary. Does that mean there are a lot of poorly managed restaurant? No. It just mean the eating public is much harder to figure out than you think.

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Joe Black's tried to be too many things to too many people and did none of them particularly well. Coupled with a huge investment in the place and a huge overhead, it was just impossible for them to succeed. Joe Black's tried to be an Irish pub, a restaurant, a banquet hall and a dance club all in one. I've only been to the restaurant a few times and the food was not particularly good and the service was below average. I went to the club once and I was only able to get one drink at some kind of makeshift bar because the line was so long. They tried the dance club thing for a couple months, but they had to rent DJ equipment, a sound system and club lights every weekend - it all gets to be very expensive so when the numbers died, so did the dance club concept. And when you have a "club" that holds 1500 people, forget about being upscale.... you are going to need to let everyone in in order to fill the place. That place was huge. Its too bad because the owners are really nice guys.

I would concentrate on trying to be the Hartford area's premier wedding/banquet facility - its the most impressive public room downtown and thats where the money is.

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I've heard coffee shops have about a 75% success rate and (believe it or not) an even higher rate if the coffee shop is right next to an existing Starbucks.

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http://www.courant.com/business/hc-joeblac...0,4342769.story

Yet another article about Joe Blacks.

Richard Rosenthal, president of the Max Restaurant Group, which operates Max Downtown and Trumbull Kitchen nearby, said he looked at the building originally and passed on it, sensing the investment that would be needed. But he said he might take another look at it now.

Rosenthal estimated that Joe Black's would have needed to pull in total revenue of at least $4 million a year based on the initial investment. Some restaurants can do that, he said, but it's a challenge in a city the size of Hartford.

"Hartford just isn't as big as Manhattan or Atlanta," Rosenthal said.

Duffy and McEveney closed Joe Black's with an upbeat message tacked on entrances: "Joe Black's is closed. Thank you. We had a good time." But court documents show that it was a struggle financially almost from the beginning. According to a lawsuit filed in housing court in Hartford, Joe Black's, controlled by parent company Mac Duff Inc., began falling behind in rent payments in October 2006, less than a year after opening.

The restaurant ended up owing more than $300,000 in rent when it closed, according to a lawsuit by Schonberger and co-owner Konover Investments Corp. that sought payment.

Schonberger said he tried to work with the restaurant owners as much as he could until at last, as bills mounted, that was no longer possible.

Though one restaurant failed in the space. Schonberger is optimistic about the future.

"I feel sad, but I'm confident we'll have the building back open very promptly," Schonberger said.

At least there in interest in the site.

I hope the next taker succeeds. Maybe it will be the Ruth Chris' steak house that was mentioned.

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Ruth's Chris sounds good (or J. Gilberts to stay local). However, attached to that Courant story is an online poll where about 80% prefer to dine in the 'burbs vs. Hartford - buncha wusses...

http://www.courant.com/business/hc-joeblac...0,4342769.story

Yet another article about Joe Blacks.

Richard Rosenthal, president of the Max Restaurant Group, which operates Max Downtown and Trumbull Kitchen nearby, said he looked at the building originally and passed on it, sensing the investment that would be needed. But he said he might take another look at it now.

Rosenthal estimated that Joe Black's would have needed to pull in total revenue of at least $4 million a year based on the initial investment. Some restaurants can do that, he said, but it's a challenge in a city the size of Hartford.

"Hartford just isn't as big as Manhattan or Atlanta," Rosenthal said.

Duffy and McEveney closed Joe Black's with an upbeat message tacked on entrances: "Joe Black's is closed. Thank you. We had a good time." But court documents show that it was a struggle financially almost from the beginning. According to a lawsuit filed in housing court in Hartford, Joe Black's, controlled by parent company Mac Duff Inc., began falling behind in rent payments in October 2006, less than a year after opening.

The restaurant ended up owing more than $300,000 in rent when it closed, according to a lawsuit by Schonberger and co-owner Konover Investments Corp. that sought payment.

Schonberger said he tried to work with the restaurant owners as much as he could until at last, as bills mounted, that was no longer possible.

Though one restaurant failed in the space. Schonberger is optimistic about the future.

"I feel sad, but I'm confident we'll have the building back open very promptly," Schonberger said.

At least there in interest in the site.

I hope the next taker succeeds. Maybe it will be the Ruth Chris' steak house that was mentioned.

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