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.
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 weâ€™re the proudest of is the fact that so many of you have formed new friendships along different age, race, and cultural lines that donâ€™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.
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.