When BlackFinn opened two years ago, the big story was not its food or drink or its décor, but its huge footprint: two large dining areas, two bar areas, event space and a patio. Its size may be the main reason it closed this week.
BlackFinn’s food was good, if a bit pricey. They carried a decent lineup of beers, enough to make me happy when I attended happy hours and parties there. The restaurant and its bigger bar area (with plenty of screens for sports viewing) looked great.
Was BlackFinn’s location a problem? My guess is probably not. It was at the north end of the Galleria, on Clayton Road, close to Brentwood Boulevard, just off I-170 and Highway 40. (Its sister restaurant Vida Cantina suffered a quick death, just months after opening. Its semi-obscure location, tucked away in a corner next to BlackFinn, was a likely factor in its demise.)
The Galleria may not be as hot a mall as it was in the 90’s, but it still draws large traffic. The Cheesecake Factory, which opened just over a decade ago, thrives in an arguably better spot on the mall campus.
We’ve seen several operators move into St. Louis in recent years with concepts that have had success in other markets. Many have been almost as ambitious as BlackFinn’s owners were. They have invested heavily in equipment and décor and, presumably, are paying high fees for their leases.
“Go big or go home” is a philosophy embraced by Tucano’s, prasino, Bricktops, Central Table Food Hall and McCormick and Schmick, among others.
But larger rooms have to be filled with a steady stream of diners. A slow night at a big place can be costly in terms of food, personnel and heating/cooling costs. Too many slow nights can be fatal.