Pigall’s closing, Jean Robert leaving group

What a blow to the Cincinnati restaurant scene, though I’ve heard rumors for months. I have heard that it is a disagreement, mostly, between the Management and talent, but I’m sure you guys know more than I do.

Thoughts? Will we ever have a 4 star restaurant again?

(Here’s some more of the scuttlebutt we’ve been hearing since last April…)

22 thoughts on “Pigall’s closing, Jean Robert leaving group”

  • I will be keeping Jean-Robert and all of his employees in my thoughts, although I know that JR is better off without Martin. JR has been put through so much because of this man throughout the years, and I am certain that karma will catch up with him.

    I hope that JR decides to stay in the city – he has been a wonderful asset to Cincinnati. I know that he will be supported in whatever he chooses to do.

    Hopefully others will not choose to support any of Martin’s establishments after this is all over. I, for one, will never set foot inside any of them again.

  • The sad truth is that aside from Pigall’s Jean-Robert has nothing to do with the other restaurants, and it shows. The food at Jeanro, for example, is very, very mediocre. Wade has ruined these restaurants. He fancies himself a ‘restaurateur’ and interfered with everything that Jean-Robert wanted to do. And now he has pushed Jean-Robert under a bus.

    I have eaten my last meal at any of Wade’s food mills. Let’s hope that Jean-Robert can get another investor to reopen Pigall’s.

  • @CincyCapell I agree. I do like Lavomatic, but I won’t do Greenup except for breakfast. I’ve been to JeanRo recently (but didn’t write about it) and it was truly mediocre.

    At least we still have Ruby…

  • Here the actual Jean-Robert’s Press Release (1/22/09):

    Today, Jean-Robert de Cavel announced he has resigned from the business partnership with Martin Wade. Chef de Cavel’s resignation was based on philosophical and business differences. “I have decided to carry forward my vision as it relates to the food, beverage and entertainment industry in a fresh format,” de Cavel said.
    “I am very pleased that Pigall’s was once again selected for the prestigious Mobil 4-Star Award. Pigall’s is the only restaurant in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana to receive this honor. I depart Pigall’s February 28, 2009, having received this award for five consecutive years.

    de Cavel plans to remain in Cincinnati with his wife, Annette, and daughter, Laeticia. During the last 15 years, we have established deep roots in this community and the City has warmly embraced our family. We will continue our Seven Days for SIDS Program which has become the single largest fund raiser for this cause.”

    I plan to develop, consult and continue to grow and market my name/brand with new opportunities that avail themselves to me de Cavel said.

    “Even in this difficult economic period we are experiencing, people still want good food, good value and good atmosphere in which to dine.” I plan to offer concepts that more accurately reflect my vision for the culinary arts. My future may well include burgers to Cajun! I can assure you that it will be with flair, passion and fun!” he said.

    I wish the Wades success. But change is good. It always brings excitement and vitality to my life. I look forward to the future and the new opportunities.

    Jean-Robert will remain at Pigall’s through February 28, 2009 when the restaurant will close and re-open in the spring without his involvement.

  • So sad, Julie, so sad, we knew it was coming but still are shaken, we were out at a couple of MW/JR establishments last night talking with friends, trying to deal with it. Our hearts go out to JR, family and all of the employees. We are happy for JR as he can move on, we are elated that he is staying in town and will be some of the first in line at his new place.

  • After talking to a few people ‘in the know’ I believe that this will ultimately play out for the best. JR has a new backer and plans to open a new restaurant perhaps as soon as this spring. It will be a restaurant that JR has complete control over and will bring him back to his roots.

    Wade was an albatross around JR’s neck. Without the panache of JR’s name attached to his restaurant many of Wade’s food mills will die in the vine. The food and service quality at his food mills is sub-par-every ounce of food goes through their central commissary where it is prepped, and often cooked and frozen. They are as bad as any chain restaurant in the area can be.

    Wade is a CPA who now fancies himself an ersatz ‘restaurateur’. The guy is a complete joke. His meal ticket, errr…wife, owns FoodTV, and she won’t let Martin anywhere near it, because the guy has a reverse midas touch-everything he touches turns to complete shit.

  • I’m a huge fan of Jean ro…he has done so much for our city, he is truly a good person and he is enormously talented. I have to say, my last dinner at Pigalls (December) paled in comparison to my dinners in earlier times.
    Can someone explain how JR is not involved with his other namesake restaurants? I’m confused about that. I understood he visited them all, and I know for fact that he chose the talent for a couple of them personally….

  • Lesley, JR has not been involved with any of the other restaurants since Pho (re)opened in Covington. He does not consult on the food or menus, he doesn’t hire the chefs or supervise the kitchen. Martin Wade and is minion Justin do that now. Plus most of the food is prepped or even completely cooked at the Wade’s central commissary. So all of the restaurants are essentially serving the same food from the same kitchen. Just like a chain. Pigall’s is the only restaurant that JR oversees, and where the food is bought, prepped & cooked on premise. And JR’s heart hasn’t been in Pigall’s for about a year now. He’s had enough of the Wades.

    The food at Jeanro Bistro has suffered for JR’s lack of involvement. It’s truly awful anymore. Frankly, I would rather eat at TGI O’Chilibees than at at Jeanro or Chalk. At least you know what you are getting, and you get what you pay for.

  • I used to work for Pigall’s and I have lots of fond memories of the people I worked with, the food, and the drama (Lamar Cheatham, anyone?)

    Sad to see that it’s going the way of the buffalo, but I am not at all surprised. The economy the way it is (and it’s the current scapegoat, warranted, of course) has lots less people eating out at pricier joints. I do know that if a place isn’t in the black by December, then things aren’t looking at all rosy, and that was the name of the game at Pigall’s.

    Can’t blame the food, though. Always amazing.

  • The posts here are much more civil than over at Polly’s Food Fights and pretty much as I hear it. Bottom like is MW has made life miserable for JR by over saturating the market, (MW is really in the real estate not food biz), watering down the quality and dragging his name through the mud. The good news is it looks like we will get a new more affordable place to eat and JR will be happier. We all need to thank JR for what he has done for this city and support him in what ever his next venture is. JR rally on the square anyone?Julie, you need to do an interview with JR, get his side of the story.

  • Thanks for the clarification cincycappel. I didn”t know that. BUT, I had a pretty bad meal at JeanRo Bistro in August. When I said something to the waiter, and mentioned how surprised I was because the food there had always been great, his reply was;
    “Well, the people behind you really like this dish, and they are big time foodies.”
    Rarely have I ever been so insulted by a waiter. He had NO clue what my credentials are, what kind of “foodie” I was, if I was there with Bon Appetit magazine, etc. Just insane.
    I wrote the manager, never got a reply.
    That’s when I thought “What is UP with this?” Now I get it.

    Anyone who has ever met Jean Robert knows what a gracious and unassuming man he is. Over at the Enquirer a bunch of people who don’t know JR from a hole in the ground are talking about what an “EGO” he has. They have no idea what they are talking about. He’s done so much for Cincinnati, and there will be a big black hole in the dining scene should he not reopen something.
    Think about how much he has raised the bar for all the other restaurants (Boca, Daveed’s, Honey, etc.) …. he has totally put dining on the map around here and made these chefs prove themselves.

  • Like many who’ve posted before me here, I’ve had mixed experiences at a number of the Jean-Robert Group restaurants – including Jean-Ro Bistro, Greenup Cafe, and Pho (in its Oakley incarnation, not its short-lived Covington one). However, without fail, each and every experience at Pigall’s has been outstanding and among the top restaurant experiences I’ve had (and certainly at the very top of the experiences I’ve had in Cincinnati). In fact, my husband and I loved Pigall’s so much, we had our (very small) wedding there in October of last year. The staff were exceptional, the meal was unforgettable, and Jean-Robert himself came upstairs after the meal to introduce himself, thank us for having our dinner there, and to make sure everything was to our satisfaction. I was grateful for the staff at Pigall’s – and certainly for whatever role Jean-Robert might have helped play in the evening – for an absolutely flawless evening.

    Because my husband and I had planned to celebrate our anniversaries at Pigall’s, we felt we had to commemorate its closing in some way. So we have made a reservation for the second seating (8:30) on February 28 as our way of making one last visit there – and as our way of showing Jean-Robert that we are grateful for what he and his restaurant did for us personally and, more generally, for those who love good food in Cincinnati.

    If other people are similarly inclined, perhaps we can have an informal strong showing of support for Jean-Robert at Pigall’s on his last night there. We could crowd the place, with every table full, showing him how we appreciate all he’s done to elevate the food culture in Cincinnati and to show him that we will follow and support him in whatever his next venture may turn out to be.

  • CincyCapell: While much of what you have written regarding the respective roles of Martin Wade and Jean-Robert in the company may be true, the following quote from one of your comments here is patently false:

    “Plus most of the food is prepped or even completely cooked at the Wade’s central commissary. So all of the restaurants are essentially serving the same food from the same kitchen. Just like a chain. Pigall’s is the only restaurant that JR oversees, and where the food is bought, prepped & cooked on premise.”

    I cannot speak for all of the restaurants in the former Jean-Robert Group, but I can say with complete certainty that Lavomatic, for one, buys, prepares and cooks ALL food on premise. The only thing at Lavomatic that comes from the commissary are the baguettes. While Lavomatic is owned by the Wades, its menu is entirely its own.

    A faithful employee of Lavomatic

  • I apologize if I was wrong about the food at Lavo, and apparently I was. A close friend of mine has a son that cooks at Jeanro and has worked at chalk as well. My information at least in part, comes from that person.

  • Has anyone here who’s speaking with authority on Martin Wade and what he’s like ever met the man? I have, and have spent time with him here and there over the last 20 years, and he’s a) extremely intelligent b) funny and c) disarmingly honest. He also seems to really love and admire Jean-Robert, despite all the crap that’s flying around on these blogs. I feel like it’s important not to drag someone’s reputation through the mud based on hearsay. I realize this is an old thread, and few will see this, but I feel it’s important to say. Does anyone else here feel that way? Does anyone realize how many people in the community Martin and Marilyn Wade have helped? I’m just tired of listening to rage and gossip on this issue.

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