Thursday, March 13, 2008

Remembering Twingo's

The other night I was out at Tuesday Nights Doggystyle at the Park Bar and got into a discussion about Detroit's favorite former Euro Cafe, Twingo's.

Ah, what a great spot that was. The vibe was just so terribly, terribly eclectic, and the food was fantastic. It appealed to both the artsy Midtowners and suburban food snobs alike. With Depeche Mode on the speakers, local art adorning the walls, and a menu to rival any big-city bistro, Twingo's just had a vibe that was unique unto itself and Detroit. Oh, and the Steak Au Poivre with gorgonzola butter? Tres magnifique.

I thought the prices were very reasonable for the caliber and quality of the restaurant, though that was the subject of some debate. Comparable to places like Union Street in pricing, only far superior in quality and presentation, and with a French-heavy wine list with few selections topping $30.00, the Twingo's experience was a real value, and a great way to endcap an evening at the Theatre.

And people loved it. Twingo's was all the rage when it was open before...then it closed. And it was sad. Then it reopened! New management, a remodel, and still a great what happened to close it down once again, and apparently once and for all?

John Lopez is what happened. He's the guy who was hired on to manage Atlas Global Bistro a few years back and almost got them closed down. (Two years later and they're still paying up back taxes that went unpaid during his tenure there.) Then Twingo's reopened, and hired him on--purportedly he's a great ideas guy, but not so great with the whole "business" aspect. Not too long later and Twingo's closed its doors, and why? Back-owed taxes. Either Lopez isn't aware that these are things that need to get paid and he, as the general manager, needs to make sure they get paid, or he just doesn't like to pay them. (Incidentally, this is the same reason the Buzz Bar closed--and has still not reopened.) Regardless, John Lopez seems to have the Midas Touch of Death for any restaurant that takes him in. I feel bad for the next sucker who hires him based on his "impressive" resume without doing a thorough background check--it's not just his bad luck that keeps getting restaurants closed around him. I mean really, at one point does it stop being everyone else and start being you, John?

[SIDEBAR: Agave was another one of Lopez's great ideas--and I'm not being facetious, it really was great, and apparently their closure had little to do with his management...some pissing contest with the landlord, or something. It would be great to see that place reopen. Lopez really is a great ideas guy...just not so good at making like a manager.]

The loss of Twingo's saddened me deeply. This really was one of Detroit's dining gems. I suppose we can only hope for a third-time's-the-charm scenario, but from what I understand it isn't very likely. I guess I'll have to find somewhere else that makes a panna cotta with Faygo sauce. *Sigh*