February 8, 2006

Deja Vu all over again - Downtown Moline restaurant is no more

After a little more than a year in business, the Blue Ribbon Steakhouse, 1601 River Drive, has closed. Its last night in operation was Saturday, Renew Moline executive director Jim Bowman said Tuesday.

"It's our understanding that the business was succeeding, and was exceeding its sales forecast. This is a business issue," he said. "There was an issue between the business itself and the landlord. I'm confident that it had nothing to do with the success of the operation."
This is reminiscent of the flashy opening and rather spectacular crash and burn of "FIVE", the ill-conceived attempt at offering seriously over-priced food in tiny portions in an atmosphere reminiscent of a autopsy theatre.

Once, it was the hang-out of at least one local politician, but, as luck would have it, shortly after FIVE was shuttered, the nearly as over-priced Blue Ribbon opened downtown, thus providing a suitable replacement.

Now even this place, where players and wanna-bes could pay nearly $30 for a certainly not out of the ordinary steak alone, and more for sides, has itself gone dark.

This is a very bizarre turn of events, as Moline only recently opened it's very expensive slab of concrete dubbed "Bass St. Landing" which is to be used for outdoor summer events directly behind and adjoining The Blue Ribbon. The newly completed Stoney Creek Inn (and a monument to former Mayor Leach) are both within sight of the now defunct restaurant as well.

It must have been one hell of a "business issue" between the building's owners and the restaurant to cause them to pull up stakes like this. The building is only a couple years old and other than the restaurant, I'm not sure if it even had any other tenants.

So much for that piece of "synergy". But eternal optimist Jim Bowman is full of good news.
More than $40 million in public and private dollars are being invested to redevelop Bass Street Landing, the area at the base of 17th Street and the Mississippi riverfront, which includes RiverStation and the 140-room Stoney Creek Inn and Conference Center.

Chuck Ruhl, co-owner of Kaizen Company of America and developer of RiverStation, could not be reached Tuesday for comment on the status of the development.

"The development is working," Mr. Bowman said of the three-story RiverStation. "It is a prime location, obviously a brand new development. The building is getting more and more interest from tenants, especially with Stoney Creek Inn being open. I think the ground floor will fill up quickly with additional retail, food and beverage."

"There's a lot of activity on it right now," he said of retail interest. "This building is going to work. The restaurant closing is a small hiccup. The interest in offices on the second floor continues to be very brisk. We will have announcements on tenants soon."

Stoney Creek Inn -- a $10 million, four-story hotel with conference center space for up to 500 -- opened last November. Mr. Bowman said it is doing very well.
35 people employed by the Blue Ribbon will be hitting the streets.

Let's hope the newly opened Brown Bottle, a place which now occupies FIVE's former location with an excellent and varied menu specializing in Italian cuisine who've done a good job trying to warm up the sterility of the FIVE decor, and La Flama, featuring great Mexican dishes can avoid the long time kiss of death for restaurants trying to make a go of it in downtown Moline.


At 2/08/2006 4:57 AM, Blogger Johnny Cuban said...

Sounds like the politicians and real-estate tycoons of Moline are screwing everyone they can in the never-ending search for their next dollar.

At 2/08/2006 5:04 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

While that's no doubt a huge motivation and aspect of this development, I think equally at fault are short-sighted politicians and planners who are bound by narrow business models and fall for fancy expensive presentations by architects, etc. and in the process lose sight of reality on the ground, and most certainly lose sight of the residents of the city they're supposedly serving.

Nearly all the failed projects in Moline have all be designed in their own image, upper-income, uncreative, and white, catering to the interests and needs of themselves, their wives, and their social circle. And it's been iffy at best and a failure at times.

They should have been creative and paid attention to new ideas which really work, rather than what looks good on paper and meets the approval of the usual gang of players.

At 2/08/2006 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard from a good source that Sen. Mike Jacobs will be purchasing the the Blue Ribbon. This is good news for all.

At 2/08/2006 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much for me taking the light rail to the Blue Ribbon. What will I do now?

At 2/08/2006 3:50 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 11:58...

That IS great news!!!

Now who do we get as our new senator??

At 2/08/2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume Jacobs new restaurant will serve nothing but pork.

And the "Senator Mike". A signature dish which consists of a big ham smothered with cheese and garnished with 100 dollar bills.

At 2/08/2006 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard from a good source that every steak at Jacobs' new restaurant will be tenderized by a full-time masseuse on the premises.

At 2/08/2006 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear the restaurant was doing great, doing good business, selling lots of food, but this was a misunderstanding between the owner and the property owner that could never get resolved. Too bad - look forward to the next restaurant.

At 2/08/2006 4:41 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

That must have been one hell of a "misunderstanding" to cause a business to walk away from what looks to be about a million dollar investment. WOW!

What kind of "misunderstanding" was it? No restaurant which is making money, as you and Bowman suggest, just closes up shop and walks away unless there's some MAJOR problem.

Sounds much more dire than anyone's letting on. I hope the truth comes out somewhere.

The city or developer could have overpromised or something. Someone obviously messed up in a MAJOR way here. But who?

Will the local press take a pass and accept the bland pronouncements to "move along, nothing to see here" and not ask any incovenient questions?

Or will someone keep pressing and find out what actually happened here? Because something big obviously went wrong.

Will we ever know who and/or what was responsible for losing this major business?

Will the usual suspects get away with issuing vague platitudes? Or will the truth be reported and those involved held accountible?

If history is any guide, this will be the last we ever hear of it, and the big blunder will be safely swept under the rug and all involved shielded from any accountability.

At 2/08/2006 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you will come on down to Senator Mike Jacobs steak and chop house.

At 2/08/2006 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a drag. That place had GREAT food. I did hear that there was an ongoing conflict between the out of state owners and the local property owner. It had nothing to do with how the restaurant was doing, rest assured.

At 2/08/2006 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will Mikes restaurant feature it's signature dish, a giant ham marinated in vodka?

At 2/08/2006 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the great work, RENEW Moline. You're trying your best to spark downtown. Blue Ribbon was great.

But next time make sure the owners dont' have a disagreement.

Otherwise, keep up the good work in Moline. Moline is on the move with momentum downtown.

At 2/08/2006 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No if you read this blog you know it will have the $10 Wisky on the Pig that is the inside pork.

At 2/08/2006 11:25 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

AH YES!!! Much like the famous "Festive Holliday ALCO-HOG" dish which won the big cooking contest for Brandine, Cletus the slack-jawed yokel's wife on The Simpsons.

She makes it by sticking a funnel in the pigs mouth and pouring a jug of XXX moonshine down it. When the pig then threw up during judging, Brandine looks at it and says, "I thought it was dead!"

It was her second entry, the first being road-kill armadillo cooked in a garbage can.

Mmmm. That's good eatin'!

At 2/09/2006 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see you there.

At 2/10/2006 3:43 PM, Anonymous daze said...

It was a lovely restaurant. So sad that it's closing. I went for my birthday with friends and it was wonderful.


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