News: Joanne Drilling no longer with Lavomatic; JR no longer at helm

Just got this passed on to me, via Pulse Magazine:

“Last Thursday I got fired from Lavomatic. Several weeks ago I got a memo explaining that the French guy who I have always loved working for was no longer my boss. In a rather bizarre twist of restructuring, others were now calling the shots. Like all good things that must come to an end, here I am.”

— Joanne Drilling

Looks like what a few of us had whispered about has come true: has JR’s Restaurant Group broken up into pieces?  Did Martin Wade get Lavo?  Who got the other restaurants?  What will become of this little gem in OTR?

I, for one, enjoyed every meal I had at Lavomatic–despite their missteps.  I knew this was a new concept, with a young staff, a new executive chef, and a new space.  I loved the experimentation.  I loved the seasonal food.  I hope that Dave and Burke and everyone else down there continue the really good thing they have going on.

So, what’s the scoop?  I haven’t seen anything about this anywhere else, so that’s all the info I have.
ETA: I have an unconfirmed report that Burke’s no longer there either. Working on it…

ETA: Burke is indeed gone.  I’m supposed to talk to him sometime soon, so anything I can share, I will.

Updated 11/16/08, from the Cincinnati Locavore discussion list:

From Joanne Drilling:
PLEASE SUPPORT RESTAURANTS THAT FEATURE LOCAL FOOD!!!
Until several weeks ago I was the chef at Lavomatic in OTR. We featured as much local food
as possible, working closely with Findlay Market vendors and implementing green practices
such as composting, recycling, no toxic chemical cleaning products etc. Unfortunately,
Lavomatic owners Marilyn and Martin Wade do not support anything that might affect their
bottom line profit, local foods included. I was routinely criticized for my “agenda” and
ultimately fired several weeks ago. At that time, I was told the Wades are restructuring the
restaurant based on a corporate chain model. So unfortunate.

The way we choose to spend our money has far reaching consequences. PLEASE support my
chef comrades who are committed to this cause so that they can continue their work.

In addition to those mentioned, Patrick McCafferty of Slims (Northside) does a TREMENDOUS
job with local foods, growing much of it himself.

Joanne Drilling



15 thoughts on “News: Joanne Drilling no longer with Lavomatic; JR no longer at helm”

  • I had heard over the summer from a couple employees(that hang out at the pool) that all JR restaurants were getting a close looking at and the under performing ones would be cut loose by the end of the year. He said obviously this did not apply to Pigals or Jean-Robert Bistro. Is this the beginning of the fallout?

  • I loved everything about Lavo, but my two favorite things were Joanne and JR and with out either one of them there I have no reason to return to my new favorite restaurant 🙁 According to one of Martin Wade’s managers, WM and JR do not get along anymore. I am disappointed that Lavo wasn’t given a chance.

  • There’s a LOT of stuff going on in the background that I know about but I don’t feel it’s my place to talk about it quite yet. “Not getting along” is a huge understatement. I will try Lavo without JR or Joanne, as it’s in my neighborhood and I want to support neighborhood establishments, but I’m afraid that without JR, Joanne and Burke (who is indeed gone), the quality will go down.

  • Went to Lavomatic last night for dinner and the server insisted that while Joanne Drilling and Burke Morton were indeed let go, the restaurant is still part of the JR Group.

    The former Sous Chef, Rob, is now the EC. The menu is a bit different from our last visit this summer, but we didn’t venture off the small plates.

  • such an inspiring write up. I don’t know Joanne but sure am glad to read that. It motivates amateur chefs aspiring to be pros like myself to keep doing and believing in the local food movement.

  • Chef Joanne’s commitment to local food was outstanding, especially since there was no sacrificing quality food for local food. It is unfortunate that she’s no longer at Lavomatic, and I know she will land on her feet.

  • It is sad that Joanne is no longer at Lavomatic. It was one of my favorites as well, and a great destination for OTR. Another great chef who buys locally is Julie Frances at Nectar in Mt. Lookout. Her cuisine is inventive and delicious. And her dinner club events are a blast. If you haven’t been there, try it. If you have been there, go again soon!

  • The other side of the story is that dining, for the most part, in Cincinnati, is not very good. Joanne, go someplace worthwhile, like Chicago…

  • I can speak on the goings on of all the restaurants. Martin and Marilyn Wade care nothing for any of their employees. This has been obvious since day one working for them. They are cruel and greedy people that only care about profit — even at the expense of the people that work for them. The irony is that their restaurants cater and are enjoyed by many liberals in the city, but their earned profits go back to supporting many arch conservatives that attempt to stifle the left’s rights.

  • Here’s the other side of the story:

    Joanne was impossible to work with! She was rude and demanding, quick to take offense, but even quicker to dole out criticism. She bit the hand that fed her (the Wades) and refused to take direction from her supposed mentor (JR). Burke couldn’t accomplish anything. The smallest task took him two weeks. He was never on the floor overseeing or helping the employees and sometimes he wasn’t even in the building during his manager shifts.

    Joanne talks a good game about how maligned she was. Sure, maybe if being given a restaurant with full creative control is her idea of poor treatment. She couldn’t keep her food costs down, she couldn’t get food onto the floor quickly, and she had a terrible relationship with front of house staff. Good riddance.

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