In my nearly 30 years of covering the restaurant industry, I’ve never witnessed a development like this one. On June 22, the owners of Dino’s Backstage closed its doors, presumably for good. Then the grapevine buzzed about a reopening in the fall. I personally spoke with someone in the restaurant who confirmed this.
Then the grapevine and Facebook buzzed again with word that the restaurant would reopen much sooner with a retooled, lighter, simpler menu. Last Wednesday, with some contrition, Dino Kelly-Cataldi did indeed invite the neighborhood to return, promising a better experience.
Now, on the Dino’s Facebook page:
Update: The link to the embedded Facebook post has been removed.
This extraordinary development caps off a month of local drama. After we reported on the original closing, our Facebook page lit up with comments from the community, many negative. During its two years in the Village, I did not have the pleasure of visiting, so I can’t corroborate any of the experiences positive or negative. Deserved or not, Dino’s had a reputation for good but pricey meals and uneven and sometimes surly service.
Dino Kelly-Cataldi’s response to the comments on our Facebook page left me dumbstruck. He viciously laid much of the blame for his failure on the community — the neighborhood yokels apparently did not understand or appreciate his gift to the village. Dino’s response went beyond the pale, casting aspersions with a litany of insults at those who dared share their experiences. He would later remove his comments, but the damage was done.
I had a memorable conversation with a restaurateur some years back in which he said to me, “People always want to blame their failure on unfair competition or on some circumstance beyond their control, when really the reason they closed is right there on the plate.”
As many know, over 80% of all restaurants fail within the first two years. It doesn’t help if you have a personality distinctly unsuited for the hospitality business. I think I can tell within ten minutes of meeting a prospective restaurateur if they stand a chance in the business. To beat the considerable odds, one must have that rare combination of a love of food, a laser-like focus on details, and general likability.
In the hours before the Kelly-Cataldi’s announced again they were closing, GlensideLocal approached Dino about hosting an event at the restaurant. It was a uniquely unpleasant conversation. The fact that Dino’s did not make it past that definitive two-year mark is no mystery to me.
I sincerely wish the Kelly-Cataldi’s the best of luck, and that they find their happy place in some new venture, but it should probably not be one that deals with the public.