Thursday, October 18, 2007

R.I.P.: Bistro New Albany.

The following is a composite of postings at NA Confidential and a bit of new material. I’ve had merrier times at funerals than Wednesday morning, when I dropped in on Dave Clancy at the now defunct Bistro New Albany for a chat about his life and times. Here's the story.


Dave Clancy posted the news himself on the Louisville Hot Bytes restaurant forum:

It is with a heavy heart that I have chosen to shut the doors of my labor of love. Due to circumstances beyond my control (mostly financial), my restaurant is closed as of 10/16/07. This was not an easy choice for me as I was so close to success that it is going to break my heart to see it end like this. I have run this place alone for well over a year and it has truly ruined me in every sense and, given the choice, I would do it all over again (only next time, I'll have a little more cash!). Thank you all for your support over the course of the last few years and wish me luck as I try to sort out a dead business and find some new direction to travel. If anyone is looking for an old washed up Chef, let me know!

It's remarkably difficult for a genuine paradigm shift to occur. All of downtown New Albany currently is engaged in just such an effort, and it's a work in progress that unfortunately will have its ups and downs. Bistro New Albany's demise is a downer, but within it are seeds of positive developments.

What I know is this: Dave Clancy chose to stick it out as a pioneer in a place where the naysayers said it couldn't be done; what's more, he chose to stick it out when he wasn't ever supposed to be the sole owner of the business (recall that the original investor dropped out, and that former partner Dave Himmel moved on to his own business), and not once did he curse his bad fortune. Rather, he saw the potential and put his scant resources on the table.

He lost the bet. Dave might not be the best poker player, but he has considerable balls, and he'll always be a hero to me.

Meanwhile, don't expect the BNA space to be empty for long. Building owner John Dowell's name is on the three-way permit, and most of the physical assets of the restaurant remain untouched even though some are in need of modification; think "new carpet." Sources indicate that wheels are spinning as we mourn, one locally based, and another from Louisville. While a replacement for the undercapitalized Bistro New Albany probably won't be of exactly the same genre, ground indeed was broken, and there are too many good things about the BNA experience for savvy operators to ignore. Here's Dave again, from a later forum posting:

Rest assured that this space will not remain vacant and it is a golden opportunity for any saavy restaurateur. I STRONGLY suggest that anyone interested in this property contact Mike Kopp at Lopp real estate, and anyone who is interested is welcome to see my P/L for the last year and a half. The difference between making this place succeed or fail was the lack of a FOH manager or partner combined with my own lack of capital. New Albany is a great city with so much potential and I know that it will continue to grow and prosper in spite of my loss.

Perhaps another downtown eatery in need of a boost might be in need of a chef, and in today's Tribune article, Speakeasy owner Brad Tharp openly discusses the possibility of welcoming Dave into the fold. Let's hope Brad includes Dave's staff as part of the deal.

They both very much need it -- as does downtown.

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