I got an email from a friend yesterday with this link about a few restaurant closings on Pearl Street in Denver. I had recently heard that Pearl Street Grill and OTOTO were closing. This is big local gossip, as it is one of the most happening neighborhoods in the city. As I read the title and saw that India’s Pearl had closed too, I was ecstatic! A while back I mentioned India’s Pearl in a post I wrote titled Food Made With Love, Plus the Best Customer Service You’ll Find Anywhere. No, I’m sorry to say the title of the post did not refer to India’s Pearl. In fact, my experience there was quite the contrary.
We love to support the local restaurants in our neighborhood.
We really liked India’s Pearl until that fateful Saturday when we stopped in for lunch. When I looked down to see a maggot (yes, I said maggot,) in my rice, my stomach turned. The summary: the owner squished the maggot in her fingers, denying what it really was, and said it was an onion in the rice. When we asked her to bring out other onions that resembled this onion, she brought out a brown strand of food that looked nothing like that little white wrinkled worm with a black head. That was that, and she walked away, having just destroyed any evidence of the maggot. There were no apologies and no compensation. After 10 minutes the server came back, noticed I hadn’t touched my food, and casually asked if I wanted a to-go box. Really? When I mentioned that my appetite was, uh, gone, he said he would ask the owner if they could comp my meal. Poor guy. He was put in such an awkward position as he had already admitted that he too thought it was a maggot. In the end, we walked out of the restaurant for our very last time, paying for only 1 of our 2 meals. I wonder how much money the restaurant ultimately lost by making sure we paid them the $10 for our lunch.
And that was it!
Oddly I don’t really mind that there was a maggot in my rice. I get it. Things happen. But I do believe in taking responsibility for yourself and your business. Restaurants just don’t survive with this kind of customer service. My desire for their demise wasn’t strictly out of malice, but out of the idea that there could be a better restaurant in that space, or one that I would actually go to now; one that could add value to
our neighborhood me. From then on, I walked my dog nearly everyday past the restaurant saying a quiet but audible “booooo” each time I passed. I know, I’m very mature. I was counting the days until they closed. Don’t get me wrong– I do like to see businesses succeed, and I don’t wish failure on them; but in this case I selfishly wanted them to close to make way for something better.
My take on OTOTO: I liked Den Deli, the restaurant it replaced. It was a casual deli-style restaurant serving similar dishes to those that people love at the iconic Sushi Den right across the street. While service was often lacking, and they brought along the snooty attitude from Sushi Den to this casual restaurant, I still felt like it was a great addition to the ‘hood. If I wanted to grab a quick bite of the food we all love without making a production of it, I could do just that. And it was a little more affordable than Sushi Den. When it was replaced by OTOTO, yet another expensive Sushi Den-owned restaurant, it was too much. We now had 3 Japanese-based restaurants by the same owners in one small intersection.
While I like Sushi Den, and I love Izakaya Den we need something new.
Platt Park is an old neighborhood that has maintained that cozy, neighborhood feel. While I enjoy these restaurants, we do not need another hoity toity, break-the-bank restaurant on our street. We need neighborhood restaurants (and no more Asian please.) How about a rockin’ Mexican joint? Even LoLa (now in LoHi) was a bit pricey, but they had great specials like $2 taco Mondays to support the ‘hood; and not to mention the best coin style margarita in town. Thanks to places like Park Burger (my favorite,) Kaos Pizza, Gaia, and The Crushery (best chocolate chip cookies on Tuesdays) we have some affordable everyday spots to mix in with those other great, but expensive restaurants. Parking is tough here. Because of that, the restaurants need to rely on neighborhood support, so why don’t they bring in businesses that we can frequent– frequently?
My take on Pearl Street Grill: mediocre food at best. And as my husband points out, the beer is expensive for a neighborhood pub. I think when Park Burger opened, serving the best burger in town, it ate into PSG’s business. It’s great that they are re-opening in a new space. They are an institution on Old South Pearl Street. The old restaurant felt tired and outdated. I just hope they don’t miss the boat on this one also.
As the New Year has rolled around, we’ve seen both good and bad spots come and go. Rumor has it that Pajama Baking Company is leaving too, and I hope that’s not the case. In the time I’ve lived here, the street has gotten better and better each year. Let’s just hope they don’t change the charm of this neighborhood by making inaccessible to those of us that live here and help keep it alive.