Friday, June 26, 2009

The Fate of Taste Pizzabar

Photo by Sean Gabriel Photography

I do hope that this is premature, and that the issues that plagued Taste Pizzabar have since been resolved and the place is staying open after all. After opening in January to much local excitement and in a flurry of strategic marketing, and receiving rave reviews for their phenomenal food and eclectic atmosphere (service was always a bit hit-or-miss, but at just now 6 months of being operational one could conclude that these are still simple growing pains; the restaurant has barely had time to find its legs, though it was popular from the very start), I've heard rumors of the semi-official kind that Taste will be closing.

The reasons are even more disheartening--management involved in illegal activities, stealing money and so forth, ultimately leading to owner Dale Daniels having to terminate several employees including upper management. Though I've not been able to speak with Dale himself to confirm why closing is necessary since the bad eggs have been weeded out (it would seem that the major problems had been solved and they can now continue to operate their normal business), I hope that my own information was incorrect and that they will indeed still be serving pizzas into the wee hours as before.

However, this doesn't look likely. Staff has already been slashed to the absolute bare bones and as of a week and a half ago, patronage has seemed to respond in kind. The Friday night trance DJs are gone, as are apparently the customers. It is sad to see yet another otherwise great restaurant suffer the fate of bad management, and it makes my heart ache for Daniels, whose dream of owning his own place has effectively been crushed.

In a way, this one also hits me a little close to home. Since they opened, I've been involved and in some ways have been a bit of a buzz-creator. I covered them in Real Detroit the weekend after they first opened. I gave them high marks both here and in D-Tales, which was then reported back to me as being a big source of traffic (which I believe, because at the time I was told this the person didn't even know I was the author of these blogs). The following month I organized a Detroit Synergy Supper Club with them. I convinced my friend who organizes the Detroit Guerrillas to hold an event there. Most recently I featured them in an article on Detroit's new gourmet pizzerias in Model D. In a way, I almost kind of felt territorial about the place--as if it were my discovery, my baby.

For me, this isn't just the loss of a top-rate pizza place--and I LOVE PIZZA--nor is it the sad failure of a person I've come to be quite fond of; I almost feel as if it were a personal failure, too. of right now, at this very moment, Taste remains open. Perhaps it won't be for much longer...or perhaps Fate has been a little kinder than has been previously reported to me and the waters have parted and the skies opened, allowing this clever little "pizzabar" to remain open, hopefully for many years to come.
Let's hope so.