Can A Restaurant Jump The Shark?
Or, more precisely, can a restaurant jump the shark before it even opens?
We’re talking about izakayas here, people. An izakaya is the Japanese version of a gastropub supper pub, also known as a bar that serves snacky, alcohol-friendly food. A tavern, if you will. They were the hotness in New York a year or so back and we guessed it wouldn’t be long before they migrated down to Philly as so many food trends from NYC are wont to do (tapas craze, anyone?). And we guessed right!
First, there was Yakitori Boy, which turned out to be a dumbed-down sort-of-izakaya with middling food and a much more enticing karaoke bar. Then there was news that Michael Schulson, formerly of POD and Buddakan would be opening an izakaya called, well, Izakaya in the Borgata. Then Drew Lazor of City Paper reported that Owen Kamihira of Bar Ferdinand is also opening an izakaya in the Blatstein Vortex in NoLibs.
And then, this past Friday, Michael Klein revealed that the Stephen Starr octopus is plunging its mighty tentacles into the izakaya business with one planned for an undisclosed Rittenhouse location later this year.
All of which leads us to wonder: might the izakaya might be over before it began?
Joking! We’re looking forward to at least one of these places being worthwhile. We’re putting our money on Kamihira, but… the Restaurant Yenta in us can’t help but wonder where exactly Starr will lay down his newest Japanese-inspired gauntlet. We thought it would be amazing if Striped Bass were the spot–or the jinxed former Copa Miami location. If anyone can cleanse out the bad juju there, it’s the Dark Starr. Or perhaps that building on the corner of 20th and Sansom, just south of Tinto’s new expansion, which we’re calling the new restaurant nexus.
We thought all of these things, until a little Starrling peeped up that the likely locale would be The Lanesborough condominium building at 16th and Locust. That condo is an Allan Domb venture, as are the Barclay and the Parc Rittenhouse where Starr has (or will have) other restaurants. You do the restaurant and real estate math.