Goodbye Goomba's, Hello Bond Street Bar and Grill
The restaurant casualties continue in downtown when longtime operator Peggy Falcaro announced on Monday that she has sold Giuseppe's after a 20-plus-year run on Bond Street.
Longtime locals remember Giuseppe's as one of the places to enjoy a good meal and a glass of wine before the boom. However, like many downtown establishments Giuseppe's struggled to find its niche in the new downtown scene where customers have rewarded novelty, innovation, and, well, newness - none of which Giuseppe had in any great quantity. With this week's closure, Giuseppe's joins, Ernesto's and Bella Cucina on the list of locally owned Italian eateries that haven't survived the recession shake-out. Meantime, chains and franchises like Portland's Pastini Pastaria, Carino's and Olive Garden have moved in, creating additional competition.
According to Falcaro, the new ownership will take over immediately and plan to open as the Bond Street Bar and Grill as soon as next week. It's not yet clear what type of menu, or format, that the new business will offer. However, the offerings will include, at least initially, a Giuseppe's Classics section on the menu that may help encourage longtime patrons to at least check out the new establishment.
While Falcaro was initially mum on the identity of the new owners, she mentioned that a pair of the restaurant's popular front-of-house staff, Nancy and Hydie, will likely be on board for the launch of Bond Street Bar and Grill.
No word either on the fate of Giuseppe's popular lounge, the somewhat underground Goomba's. Here's hoping the new owners find a way to incorporate the well-loved alley accessible lounge that's faithfully watered this thirsty customer's palate over the years. Salud, Giuseppe's. And thanks for the memories. (EF)
We Survived Black Friday
Black Friday, a day so entrenched in the psyche of America's shoppers that it doesn't even need to be circled on the calendar. It's the day when coupon cutters across this great nation work off excess stuffing and gravy calories by rampaging though big box retail stores like hordes of Mongols raiding across the steppes, grabbing high-definition TVs and cashmere sweaters instead of women and livestock.
This year there was some good news after the proverbial dust settled. To begin with, no one was trampled to death at Wal-Mart, which is an improvement on past years. And this despite what could have been a record turnout for bargain-hungry shoppers. Retailers also fared better this year with shoppers dropping more cash both online, where sales were up almost nine percent from last year, and in traditional brick and mortar stores where initial figures indicated that bargain hunters had pushed last Friday's spending to pre-recession levels. But with the economy still wobbly and unemployment hanging in the double digits, the question is: Will consumers continue to ring the register after the initial wave of deals has disappeared.
If like Upfront, you avoided the crowds on Black Friday and are waiting to do some of your shopping in a more, um, relaxed environment, keep your eyes on the Source where next week we'll publish the second of our two annual gift guides. And if you're contemplating doing more shopping at local stores this year, it's the place to go for gift ideas since you won't find us shilling for any of the Big Box stores or bevy of online retailers. The Holiday Gift Guide hits the stands Dec. 9. (EF)
Houses for Peanuts!
More than three years after the stock market crashed and homes in Bend went from selling for the price of your average spaceship to their pre-Californian immigration value, it seems the housing market is still flailing. Things were looking up earlier this year, but the Federal Housing Finance Agency reports that from Sept. 30, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010, Bend's home price index fell by nearly 14 percent. This puts Bend at the second worst decline in home sales in the nation, second to Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla. Presumably, people decided to stop buying homes in Daytona Beach after they realized that, except for two weeks in March, the average age of the population was pushing 89.
It is disconcerting that, while the economy is starting to get back on track, the Bend housing market is still falling - albeit less rapidly. With a number of homes remaining unsold, too many Bend residents upside down on their mortgages and persistent unemployment, it seems there's no easy answer for the Bend housing crisis. On the upside, at this rate you'll be able to buy a home in Broken Top (whose golf club was incidentally sold out of foreclosure to out-of state investors last week) for twelve dollars and a bag of peanuts by 2015. (SR)
The Miami Heat Lose, But Drinkers Win!
It's tough to be too surprised by the fact that so many basketball fans (and several non-basketball fans) have been cheering vehemently against the Miami Heat, who have been shockingly mediocre this year, with a 9-8 record at press time. But fans in Miami might also be cheering against the Yankees of Basketball because the city's Whiskey Tango All-American Bar and Grill is picking up the tab - or at least $25 of it - whenever the Heat lose.
To date, the bar has lost some $30,000 as a result of the promotion, which was apparently created around the belief that LeBron, Dwayne and Chris couldn't possibly allow their team to lose more than 10 or so games, let alone half of their first 20 match ups. All patrons are required to do is sign in before the game and should the Heat lose, the bar will return the first $25 of each tab in the form of a gift card.
Still, the Whiskey Tango's co-owner, John Todora, says the deal has been a great promotion for the restaurant, but it's pretty clear he'd like to see some more Ws on the board for the Heat.
"We're pretty much unprotected from an insurance standpoint, so we're kind of at the mercy of the Heat," Todora told CNBC. (MB)