It was another routine evening in Lake Wobegon inside the perimeter. After getting my code ready for today’s demo I left work early enough to beat a lot of traffic into midtown for my German class. And because I had already eaten dinner at the office, long story involving free garlic knots from Ippolito’s as well as a piece of cheesecake made by a German, I had ample time to sit around. I managed to run into a classmate and shoot the shit with him for awhile before our class started.

Oh Ippolito’s
I’m sure that I’ve mentioned it in this space before, but when I moved to Atlanta in 1995 I lived in an unruly part of the city known as “outside the perimeter”. That’s right, the lure of young ladies in tennis skirts convinced me, then a svelte 29-year-old single male, to move to then-“Dunwoody” into one of the apartment complexes on Roswell Road just south of Northridge. At that time the corner of Roswell Road and Abernathy was much different (not to mention how different the stretch of Roswell Road just north of I-285 was back then). One remaining artifact of those headier days is Ippolito’s Italian restaurant.

I loved and still love Ippolito’s food, especially their garlic (butter) knots. I enjoy their food so much that it baffles me as to why I’ve not eaten there very often in the eleven years since my company has moved to the Perimeter Mall area; perhaps Atlanta’s shitty traffic has something to do with this.

Dinner Lab’s Demise
It was a strange day last week when I received an email from Dinner Lab alerting me to the availability of tickets to their next event, and then later that day one alerting me that effective immediately they have gone out of business.

Pity, that David Bowie themed dinner I attended in February was fun, and I met a woman that I was hoping to see again (note to self: seize the moment!) even though she made it abundantly clear that she had little interest in me.

I think the problem going forward is that the cost of these dinner events keep going up. While I’m still gainfully employed I continue to consider going to $75/head dinner outings, but this latest offering from Dinner Lab was $95, well outside of my maximum.

Here’s the text that is on their website as of today:

Members of Dinner Lab

Three-and-a half years ago a few of us came up with a novel idea; bring together random people, in an unconventional location, and give an up-and-coming chef a chance. The idea was meant to be pretty simple – give a newcomer, an underdog, someone that no one else believed in yet, a platform to showcase their culinary talent to the world. We have always wanted to be an organization that rolled the dice on people and innovative concepts before the rest of the world took them seriously.

We thought that the restaurant industry often took safe bets. We wanted to up the ante, and bet hard on experimentation, iteration, data, and the fact that there should be an open dialogue between diner and chef. We tried to blur the lines, push the envelope, and propel an industry that we loved forward. We did this not for the sake of being novel, but because we thought that guests should be a part of the culinary process; not as receivers of a finished product, but part of the development.

It is with a very heavy heart that we have to tell you, but effective immediately, Dinner Lab will be suspending operations and halting events.

We put every ounce of our energy into developing a product that you wanted to engage with regularly, but we weren’t able to turn the corner on creating a profitable enough enterprise to support our ambitions. We have been fortunate to attend countless dinners in cities all over the United States, and engage with thousands of our diners, chefs, and staff who have worked tirelessly for us over the years. We are proud of the work that we have done, and am saddened by the fact that we no longer get to make our living on providing you all the experiences that we love so dearly. We have always considered ourselves to be part of the fortunate few that get to make their living on great food and drinks.

We have always believed in three very simple ingredients for the perfect night that we think are important to highlight:

People – One of the things that we’re the proudest of is the fact that so many of you have formed new friendships along different age, race, and cultural lines that don’t typically exist in the real world. For those of you that e-mailed us that you met your husband/wife, best friend, colleague, business partner, etc. at our events, it will be one of the memories that we will take with us for the rest our lives.

Places – So many of you opened your doors to us, and allowed our company and guests the opportunity to interact with your businesses and homes. You were able to imagine a different usage of your space, and invited 120 complete strangers into your world, and we were able to get a glimpse, and if only for a little bit, shift our perspective on what can/should happen where.

Chefs – So many of you poured your hearts and souls to our company and members and shared deeply personal, experimental, and progressive ideas with the world. Some of these ideas worked and others were huge learning experiences. For those of you that have moved on from our ranks and are opening new restaurants and running other organizations, we are proud to have touched your life in some way.

We hope that you all continue to break bread with random strangers, and thank you all deeply for being a part of something special.

Dinner Lab

Bike In Tow
I had to pass up an opportunity to have some beers and speak German with the aforementioned classmate due to my prior commitment to ride my bike tonight with a coworker. We’ll be joining up with the folks riding out of Free-Flite in Sandy Springs and doing most of the same route that I rode on Monday evening. Here’s to hoping for less traffic, or at least fewer times of me fearing getting hit.

Paulie [eatl/ga]

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9 Responses to tldr

  1. Stacy says:

    Oh Ippolito’s garlic knots are crack. I’ve never been to the location you mention, though I can picture it quite clearly. There’s also one up in Norcross and one on HBR which I’m assuming is Roswell?

    I loved the concept of Dinner Lab when you first mentioned it, and especially that David Bowie-inspired menu of your last one. I get why it costed what it did, but that’s what kept me from seriously considering it. $150/yr. and then $100 each meal for one person? Those are special occasion anniversary-type prices for me.

    But speaking of UN-costly things….Remember folks! You still have time to participate in Atlanta Burger Week ( Why I’m pimping this out so much I have NO idea. I just like that a Burger Week exists, I guess.

  2. Barb says:

    Isn’t Ippolito’s and Scalini’s almost the same place? (sister restaurants?)
    We almost went to the Scalini’s on Cobb Pkwy the other night for TJs birthday – (free dinner on your birthday) but he decided on Rocco’s.

    I’m going to have to make some sort Italian food for dinner soon now, with lots of garlic.

  3. I’ve never been to Scalini’s, at least as far as I know.

    Stacy, I have been trying to get in on the $5 burgers this week but it’s yet to be the right place at the right time for me.

  4. Stacy says:

    I’m skipping trivia tomorrow to go eat the Hi-Five Diner one with Aron. You’re welcomed to join us, but fyi: we’re acting like old people and eating really early (5pm-ish). They mention there might be lines/waits and I figure that time might work really well where they may be busier later.

  5. Good to know. This now gives me a window for doing laundry tomorrow! (I’m so easily pleased)

    Perhaps I’ll try and score a late $5 somewhere, maybe at the Pink Pony? LOL!!! I hope that you enjoy yours.

  6. Barb says:

    $5 burger sounds really good – but the traffic aggravation to get into town for one might make it not worth it.

  7. Stacy says:

    The Meehan’s in Vinings is doing it too Barb. I think that’s the closest one to you.

    The Pink Pony one — LOL! Is actually PINK to boot. I’ve heard that a lot of strip clubs serve good food but, yeah. I’m okay with not finding that out about this one.

  8. Steve says:

    There was another related restaurant- Provino’s and at one time they had one on Memorial drive and one in Snellville. As far as I know the one in Snellville is still operating- the Memorial location, like lots of things along that road, has ceased.

    The Ben Hilton is looking good again. I caught up with an old neighbor that has lived across the street for almost forever. It was good to see her and see she’s doing well. I almost had to go around and borrow some gas for the mower. I thought there was more in the can at the house than there was. I finished up and was riding over to the truck and the mower sputtered a bit. If I ran out of gas before getting loaded, I would have had no choice but to put more fuel in, as there is no way to push the mower up the ramps.

    Paulie, speaking German with someone “at your level” won’t do as much good as speaking with someone who’s better. But I guess any practice is better than none.


  9. I believe the same Steve, about the German practice, but forcing myself to think in German would be beneficial with partners at any level.

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