This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Coming Out of the Ground

It looks like The Underground will be no more at the first of the year.

I wrote about The Underground in September (Come Underground) and while I explained I found the prices to high to eat here often, it is one of my favorite places. We've been dining here for close to three years, its entire life at this location.

It is not entirely "gone". In fact, it is moving to the second floor of Charlie Goodnight's. And it will change it's AWESOME and ORIGINAL name to The Grille at Goodnight's. Already, it has cheapened itself to mainstream with such an awfully plain name.

Let me first say, I WILL give support to their move. I don't want to dissuade anyone from giving it a try because if they will truly stay true to their philosophy in cooking, the food will be amazing.

BUT, my fear is this: they will lose the creativity and environment that they developed to whatever Goodnight's wants them to be. The big fish ate the little fish -- and the big fish isn't really hungry.

I have to correct myself, BTW. It is no longer Charlie Goodnight's. It is actually Goodnight's Comedy Club. If you attempt to hit, it redirects you to, well, to appropriately named!

I know management changed awhile back and while I still venture to the comedy club for some great shows, the atmosphere -- to me -- has lost its buzz. No longer is that writing board behind the ticket desk, where the ticket dude writes your name in and you can see exactly where you'll be sitting...but now, it's just open seating...well, unless you eat at the restaurant on the second floor.

I have no earthly idea what its name is but Goodnight's wants to make sure you eat there. Tim and I always went to The Underground but on at least a couple of occasions, the ticket dudes go out of their way, ala car-salesman-style, to persuade patrons to the upstairs restaurant. It's so fake and I don't know if they get a cut of the profits, but it turns me off.

The second floor restaurant labels itself fine dining and I recall looking at their online menu a few times. Prices were very much in the fine dining range. BUT HOW CAN YOU BE A FINE DINING PLACE WHEN THE LOSERS THAT GO TO THE COMEDY CLUB ARE PLODDING UP THE STAIRS TO USE YOUR BATHROOM? To me, that's the deal breaker - you share a bathroom with the dregs that will plop a few dollars to hear some crass jokes and more dollars to get DRUNK.

Hey, I'm one of those folks so I'm not insulting just you.

I have never eaten there and ventured through the non-bathroom path of the restaurant. But from what I _can_ see, fine dining atmosphere it is NOT. Maybe the food is to die for, but I certainly have never seen or heard a recommendation to try this place. And it looks the same as it did eleven years ago, when I moved to Raleigh.

So does Goodnight's. I have not seen any changes or modifications to this place. Does it need it? Hell, I don't know but I just haven't seen much change since I started coming here -- well, except for the stage sign was pulled down (or something like that) and now, those greasy ticket sellers.

Oh, and BTW, they have a really intelligent way of buying tickets on-line. You buy them on-line, you print them out, you take them with you to the club, the line is long and you feel tres cool because you purchased ahead of time, but you find out that you got to get back into the long-ass line like everyone else to get your OTHER TICKET from the greasy ticket boys. That process is sooooo efficient it shouldn't piss anyone off!

So you can see, I am not impressed with this part of Goodnight's. There is no proof, other than booking some good acts sometimes, that they can provide a good user experience to their patrons. And since this is really the only comedy club in a mile radius, this may be why they can get a few good acts. Now, it is just a few because the rest of the year I see Killer Beaz and Tim Wilson on the venue.

Every business has a chance to change for the better. I hope that Goodnight's first step in that direction is this partnership with The Underground. How cool would it have been to leave them where they were and do something better with the top floor? Okay, maybe that's their plan but I read on RaleighFreePress (Old Bar to Reopen in January) that The Old Bar is coming back. Again, need to renew and improve what was The Old Bar. Keep it as a bar and don't serve food or serve GOOD FOOD.

Ahhhh, armchair business planning. Is that a sport?

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