Dear Todd English: It's Not Us. It's You.
*We speak metaphorically here of the restaurants we so lovingly raised with our once-beloved.
Look, there’s no easy way to say this, so we’ll just cut to the chase: We’ve been doing some serious thinking lately. About us.
Yes, we get how majorly gross it is to do this by letter. But it’s been months since we’ve been in the same ZIP code together, much less talked. Really talked. Not so much about the kids or the credit score, or even the ridiculous restaurant you opened in Hollywood with that trashy desperate housewife. But about this relationship and where it’s headed.
Basically, things aren’t working out the way we’d hoped. You’re simply not the chef we fell in love with back in 1984; in fact, we sometimes wonder whether you even like cooking anymore. After weighing the pros and cons, we’ve made a decision. We think it’s time we both went our separate ways. Started seeing other people. Hit that old Freedom Trail once and for all.
It’s been an emotional ride. Twenty-seven years is a long time to spend with someone. But your recent antics have made it that much easier on us. So thanks for that, if nothing else.
But before we bid you farewell, we thought it would only be fair to offer some solid reasons why we’re moving on — a few nuggets of wisdom we’ve learned from our friends, not to mention a small fortune in psychotherapy. But don’t you worry that pretty chiseled head of yours for a single second. We wouldn’t dream of making you pay for it. If there’s one thing this entire charade has taught us, it’s the folly of sending you the bill.
1. Everything’s crumbling here at home. Remember one time years ago, when things were great between us and you were talking about branching out and opening a second Olives, and we were like, “Totally!” Well, that was before we knew that all we’d be left with was a couple of orphaned pizzerias and a cupcake vanity project.
This isn’t to begrudge you your dreams of building a culinary empire, an obsession you were fairly up-front about from day one, or even your interest in seeing other cities on the side. It’s just that it was a whole lot easier to cheer you on from home when you were still taking care of us. Nine years ago we were sitting pretty with the flagship Olives, four Figs locations, Bonfire steakhouse, Kingfish Hall, and Rustic Kitchen. So what if you were blazing a white-hot trail of national domination through New York, DC, Vegas? Back then you were keeping us too blissfully smitten — and too busy stuffing our faces — to care.
Today the home front has gone barren. We know, we know. We’ve had this talk before, and you don’t see it that way. But let’s take an inventory, shall we? The Wellesley Figs: closed. Bonfire: closed. Rustic Kitchen: lost in a lawsuit. Kingfish Hall: not long ago facing eviction for unpaid rent. But the unkindest cut is Olives, where we first fell in love with you: It’s closed, pending repairs after a kitchen fire. Pending and pending — incessantly pending — since May of last year. Without any acknowledgement, let alone real explanation why. That the New York and Las Vegas spinoffs are still humming is a slap in the face, but not nearly so much as our sneaking suspicion that those kitchen repairs here may actually be code for “I’ve moved on.”
So many problems here at home, yet you’ve somehow managed to find the time and the resources (and the unburned bridges?) to open the Plaza Food Hall, your newest good-time girl, which you’ve adorned with a wine bar, a bakery, and a demo kitchen where you can preen for the press. Then there’s Cross Bar, the kind of gastropub that we’ve always begged for. And, of course, Ça Va, the French brasserie. And all of it not here, but on prime Manhattan real estate. Ça va? Ça va assez merdique.