Stephen Starr on Food, Theater and Why You Suck

In case you missed it, his Stephen-ness was on FOX Business a couple days ago, talking about his restaurants, himself, making it work in a tough economy and what he’s got planned for the rest of the year. Other topics discussed:

Lorne Michaels (that’s who Starr wanted to be when he grew up, back when he was still in TV)

Madonna (he promoted one of her concerts after giving up on TV and getting into the music biz)

Frankford Hall and Talula’s Garden (without ever mentioning either by name)

Why You Suck (or, at least, why you should assume that your idea for a restaurant does)

Check out the video after the jump.

One thing about the interview that bothered me? The line, “Of course, it has to be about the food, but…” There is no good thing that can follow that “but”–no word or series of words that can be anything but a retreat from what should be the central focus of any restaurant: the grub. To think in any other way puts you immediately in Outback Steakhouse territory–believing that enough crazy crap on the walls can atone for the sins being committed in the kitchen. The food is the most important thing, arguably the ONLY important thing, and any restaurant owner would do well to tread very carefully when he starts moving away from his primary responsibility: serving food to people for money. I get that dining out is about comfort and service and theater. I understand the necessity of good design. But it starts and ends with the cooks in the kitchen and the food on the plates–no matter how cool Steven Spielberg thinks you are.

Oh, and also? Is it just me, or does Starr just look sad the whole time he’s sitting there? The man brought down $125 million last year in his restaurants. If I ever did something like that, I’d be running around the set throwing fifty dollar bills at everyone. I would’ve shown up with a couple fine looking ladies and a giant hat and a suit made of money. I would’ve demanded that the entirety of the interview be conducted from inside the solid gold apartment I had built inside a diamond encrusted helicopter that travels the world on the back of a giant yacht called the Screw You.

I mean, I know it’s just money, but it sounds to me like Starr had a very good year (in a year when a whole lot of other people had bad ones), and he just sits there looking like someone kicked his dog.