Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No Big Surprise: Diego Closes After Less Than A Year On Smith Street

It probably won't come as a surprise to many in the neighborhood, but Diego, the Mexican restaurant at 305 Smith Street at the corner of Union Street, has already called it quits.  The eatery never really took off and seemed empty on most nights.
Before Diego opened, its owner, James Geritano, who also owns Bagels By The Park, created some controversy when he claimed that Dos Caminos's Executive chef Ivy Stark was involved in designing the restaurant's menu, a claim that was later denied by Stark's PR people.
With or without the involvement of a top chef, one has to wonder why all three restaurants that have opened in that space in the last few years (Sonny's, Union Smith Cafe and now Diego's) have failed, despite such a great corner location.
Perhaps, this Yelp review from October '11 gives a bit of an insight for why Diego won't be missed by many:
A few friends and I ended up here on a Sunday when trying to find a brunch place that would seat us right away. Awful awful service and mediocre overpriced food.  The waiter was extremely rude after my friend made a complaint about our food taking over an hour to arrive even though it wasn't at all crowded.  Then, when the bill came, turns out we were overcharged for a couple of plates. He basically said too bad, that's the price on their system, even though the menu had different prices.  He ended up telling us to "just pay the bill and leave." Who does that??

What about it?  Do you think Diego will leave a big hole on Smith Street?  What kind of eatery would do well at that corner?


Rob said...

I ate there once and I can't say I had a bad experience. The food was ok although I'm not really big into Mexican so I'm probably not one to judge on that.

Ben said...

Diego was such a cynical, opportunistic attempt to fleece ill-informed diners, and I couldn't be happier to see it gone. Of course it failed - it offered substandard food at exorbitant prices. I'll never support anything owned or operated by Geritano, so I hope someone else takes over the space. That corner is such a great location - it seems like it should be a no-brainer for someone with a decent concept to succeed wildly.

matt said...

i agree that this place was a bit of a con job. went once with friends and we were sorely disappointed. the tacos were miniscule, and the service and food were mediocre at best. The menu was short and uninspiring. It seems like they made almost zero effort to spruce up the outdoor area and make it enticing; it always looked like a place where you'd store garbage cans between garbage days, not someplace to drink margaritas.

like almost everyone in the neighborhood who went, i did not go back a second time. it's a wonder that as entrenched as geritano is in the 'hood, he either did not receive or failed to act on feedback from the local community. one tends to wonder if the con job in question isn't some form of the "old neighborhood" capitalizing on the new neighbors (yups with $ to blow).

Anonymous said...

It was destined to fail as there's better Mexican in the neighborhood. Although the prices were on the high end, I thought Union Smith Cafe would have lasted longer. But if it's from the same grubby owner, then the way he tells lies explains the type of wait staff he hires.

Anonymous said...

I've known a couple people who worked there and apparently the owners didn't pay their people well, and sometimes they just didn't pay them at all.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I wouldn't mind Stumptown or the prime meats people taking over this space!
Or even a beautiful garden center to inspire the lazies in the vicinity. Or just a nice, faux French bistro with standard
Fare and comfy stay all day atmosphere. a place to linger under an umbrella drinking mojitos. Perhaps the Stinky/angry wade/smith and vine empire will rescue it. But
If they do please, no silly names. :) I can't take anymore cuteness. :)

Anonymous said...

The building is family owned so the same guys get to use their dad's/uncle's space for any restaurant skeem they want.
Union Cafe lasted as long as it did because they were very hands off & let the mgr run the place. As soon as the owner got involved he started cutting back on the pay & the staff - as usual.

Katia said...

As far as I know, the building does not belong to the owner of the former Sonny's, Union Smith and Diego.

Anonymous said...

My Mistake - the BUILDING isn't owned by the same family, but the businesses that have been there have all been owned by the same family - who also owns the Bagels by the Park business & the G.Y.C. business.

Anonymous said...

Union Smith was a great spot and the food was pretty damn good. Jamie has the same staff for years in the Bagel store- If he treated his staff so badly, why are they so loyal? GYC has also had the same staff for years. Your comment is totally uninformed.

Get ready for Starbucks moron.

"Or just a nice, faux French bistro" right, there's already 3 within 5 blocks, we really need another. And- Why "faux". A regular bistro is no good for you? If you're going to use French words, maybe use the correct ones?

Mary said...

Our family had our one and only meal at Diego last summer. As we were leaving I told my husband the place would be closed within the year. Worst margarita I ever had, dull and limited menu, and very mediocre food. We liked Union Smith and were sorry to see it go.

Anonymous said...

Atmosphere at Union Cafe was very blah. Whenever you walked in, there wasn't any nice greeters.
Even when I walked in for a gift certicate there wasn't any interest for our seniors. Also Diego was never filled with customers.
Nice all you can eat buffet fish restaurant would be great.
It has a beautiful garden walkway. Too bad it's empty. It would have been beautiful all lit about for the holidays.