Troiani: The Second Shoe

The Monday, Dec. 6, edition of the Mackay Restaurants newsletter left out the really big company news. Last week, company CEO Paul Mackay fired Richard Troiani, manager of (and minority partner in) Mackay's posh downtown dinery Troiani. Before opening his namesake, Troiani worked at the Portland branch of Mackay's successful upscale steak house el Gaucho chain and came to Seattle to manage Mackay's seafood restaurant, Waterfront on Pier 7. According to Mackay, he saw Troiani (the restaurant) as a downtown-business-oriented, Italian-accented correlative to El Gaucho. After a year's operation, also according to Mackay, Troiani (the manager) still hadn't achieved the grill-room ambience he wanted, and the place was hemorrhaging cash. So as of Monday, Troiani is gone as manager and Mackay is working the floor himself.

This is the second shock to the restaurant's system, which replaced opening chef Walter Pisano back in June. Mackay professes himself happy with the current kitchen team, but he's bringing in Gaucho veteran Tewfik Boulenouar to help him inoculate the Troiani staff with the Gaucho service style. (Pisano is now back at his old post running the kitchen at Tulio, and says he's happy as a clam doing so.)

Contacted on Monday, Troiani sounded poleaxed, but says he feels "no anger with anyone." Mackay says he hopes Troiani will "take some time to look around, consider this like a leave of absence, so we can talk again in three or four months. I'm confident I can bring this restaurant around. And to tell you the truth, I'm enjoying being back on the floor again." And what about the restaurant's name? "I love the name 'Troiani,'" says Mackay. "I did a search and found a couple restaurants in New York by that name. I told Rich, 'If you'd never worked here, I would still have called it that."

727 Pine R.I.P.

After months of heated denials, on Dec. 1 the Grand Hyatt Hotel finally admitted what everybody in the Seattle food world already knew: Its once high-aspiring restaurant, 727 Pine, is no more, and will be replaced by a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Does this mean that guests calling down for room-service breakfast will only be able to get steak and eggs? And that the choice at lunch will be what burger topping they opt for?

Cap'n Crunch, 24/7

Signs of the accelerating infantilization of American culture abound, but a new benchmark was announced last week by the Associated Press: the opening of the first all-cereal sit- down restaurant in the world. At Philadelphia's Cereality, pajama-clad servers dole out bowls of 30 cold cereals with 36 toppings. The AP cites one customer's Quaker Oats Squares and Corn Chex topped with flax bark and skim milk. But Cereality doesn't cater only to health nuts. "The Devil Made Me Do It" is a milk-topped megillah of Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, choclolate crunchies, and malt balls. One customer opined Cereality might be a good place for a first date: "You could learn a lot about a person by what cereal they choose."

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