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America’s Next Great Restaurant: Final Location Closed; What Went Wrong?

America's Next Great RestaurantWe recently reported that two of the three locations for Soul Daddy, the restaurant concept which won America’s Next Great Restaurant, had closed after only a few weeks. Word was that all of the resources were being shifted to support the remaining restaurant in Minneapolis. Now this last location has closed as well.

A PR statement reads, “This was a difficult decision for us, as we wanted to see Soul Daddy succeed, but the restaurant simply was not performing as we had hoped. We’d like to thank all of the customers who tried our restaurants and the people who worked hard to try to make the restaurants succeed.”

According to Portfolio’s estimates, the failure cost more than $3 million. Chipolte Corp. put in about $2.3 million. Chipotle founder Steve Ells and his fellow judges/investors Bobby Flay, Lorena Garcia, and Curtis Stone supposedly contributed $220,000 each. While the judges probably made more from appearing on the now-cancelled series and benefited from the exposure, that’s still a lot of money.

It’s estimated that the $3 million dollars was enough to keep the locations running for six months so it seems like everyone saw the writing on the wall and decided to cut their losses quickly.

Self-employed caterer Jamawn Woods previously worked at Chrysler as a forklift operator. When he won, the car company granted him a one-year leave of absence to pursue his dream. A rep for Chrysler says Woods is still welcome to come back and that, “He is still part of our family.”

LA Weekly has some ideas about why Soul Daddy failed. They include:

Location: The Los Angeles location was on the fourth floor of a mall, buried in a back corner with little foot traffic.

Concept: Woods came in with a good concept — fried chicken and waffles — but the show’s experts morphed it into “healthy soul food” and apparently that’s not what many people want to eat.

The show: Few people watched the show because it wasn’t very exciting. By the time it ended, few people cared or knew who won.

The food: It was uninspired and ultimately not all that good.

What do you think? Why do you think Soul Daddy failed. Did you visit a location? Would you have if one was nearby?

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

babbyd September 3, 2011 at 1:00 am

The show might’ve been an investor’s wet dream, but ultimately a really unhealthy setup for innovation and resolve. By nature of the show’s format, strong restaurant owners were weeded out for ones more willing to cater to every silly whim and idea of the investors. (Did anyone wince every time Bobby Flay insisted upon his opus idea of revolutionizing the grilled cheese sandwich concept with “dipping sauces! DIPPING SAUCES!!!”) The poor gentleman who won the show was set up to fail, and to be the scapegoat for the investors’ really obnoxious and out-of-touch whims. Hopefully, the next time they decide to put their money where their egos are, they’ll be responsible and merciful enough not to hijack some working stiff’s dream and drive it over a cliff.

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Grandizer July 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I don;t know, maybe because it was not an original idea?
There has been a Roscoe’s chicken and waffles long before this guy even dreamed of the “concept”.
Last I heard, Roscoe’s still thrives.

Also, the show was cooked from the beginning. Too many, “thoughts” by the judges on how things were run, and instead of a “original” idea, I saw more, “do it this way, or why should we invest our money in you” attitudes.

While some of the ideas would never had worked, some might have if the judges stopped threatening the people to change their menus.

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Bruce July 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

Why did it fail? Maybe bad service and food not so good? I dont know I never got to eat there. I can tell you that places like Lucille’s are pretty awful, but they’re still around. Too bad.

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