It is with a sad, heavy heart that I have to write this post. I just found out from Aly, the manager, Chris, the Intoxicologist Extraordinaire and an email from Eric and Audrey that Augustine’s Bistro has officially closed. It was, indeed, one of my absolute favorite restaurants. Business just was there to sustain the awesome ideas and food concepts that Eric and crew had.
In talking with a friend, we truly believe that 401 W 4th Street is just a bad locale. The location is perfect for many things, but because it is inside the Stevens Center, people think that it’s only open on show nights. This wasn’t the case. It was open 5 nights a week and even lunches.
The French cuisine will be missed and the drinks that Chris dreamed up, hopefully, will land elsewhere. The smile from Aly always lit up the room. Downtown Winston-Salem just doesn’t know what it’s going to me be missing. It’s this writer’s hope that they land on their feet in a new location, at least in some resemblance of what Augustine’s Bistro was. Cheers to Eric, Audrey, Aly, Christ, Ricky, Nick, and all the crew.
i have to disagree with you. i don’t believe the location is bad at all. In fact, in the right hands, the location could be fantastic.
What’s missing is a cohesive marketing/advertising program, including a vibrant and inviting website (none of which would have to be expensive) to get the word out. Augustine’s never did this, nor did Mundo before it, nor did d’ioli’s before it. Nor, for that matter, did Artisan, one of the best restaurants in town (and my favorite from the moment it opened until the day it closed).
A restaurant can’t rely on word of mouth anymore (though Quanto Basta, which i contend is highly overrated, seems to be thriving on just that, so what do i know?). You have to aggressively and consistently present what you’re offering, and back that up. If what you say is true, and people believed that Augustine’s was only open on the nights that the Stevens Center was having a show, then that’s the restaurant’s fault for not having a clear message.
i don’t mean to be harsh. i was sad to see Augustine’s fold its tent as so many have before it. i’m a downtownie and a huge booster of everyone who tries hard to make a go of different venues downtown. But i do believe that even though circumstances can conspire against one, one still has to figure out a better way to give it a shot than Augustine’s did.
I appreciate your input but I, too must disagree, at least to a point.
1703, Meridian, Spring House etc. don’t put a lot of money into advertising, at least that I see. I know what Greg pays for rent at Artisan and he’s content to let it set and continue to pay that, which means he has the money for advertising, but doesn’t. Many of these smaller businesses don’t have an advertising budget like that. Plus, Greg can’t figure out what he wants to do with that space. He’s content with using the basement freezer space for Millennium Center events. More power to him, but I think the space is being wasted. There could be a lot of great restaurants in that space. There was a great restaurant there and we just get to look in the window and wish it back.
I personally think that UNCSA sets up the restaurants to fail. Not saying they do it on purpose, but I believe it has a lot to do with it. There is only so much that UNCSA will let you do with that space and especially your signage. I know Eric and Audrey personally and I know that with both Mundo (also theirs) and Augustine’s, signage was a problem. Stevens Center isn’t going to let you do anything that may detract from their facade and signage. Anything that happens there is overshadowed. Plus, UNCSA needs to update the kitchen. It’s their space and they’re in charge of the facilities. Mundo’s problem was partly because of that and partly because Eric and Jared had a falling out. Do I think Augustine’s was perfect? No, absolutely not. I wish they would have gone more full-on French instead of the hybrid French-American and I think they should have embraced the themed dinners/tasting/pairings like Mundo did. They had craft cocktails that would rival Tate’s, in my opinion.
I wouldn’t say that Quanto Basta is a rousing success; not just yet. It’s only been open for 2 weeks and while they’re packing in, it’s new. That will wane. NOT, at all, saying I don’t have faith in Tim’s establishment. He knows what he’s doing, but if we’re going off it being an Italian restaurant, then we’re missing the point. Quanto Basta is a wine bar first and foremost that happens to serve Italian food; just like 6th & Vine is a wine bar that happens to serve decent food. It’s more an attraction than a restaurant, but a good restaurant it is.
DiLisio’s is another that doesn’t advertise, they’re off the beaten path, serve wonderful food and have to turn people away. Marketing isn’t everything. Do I think all these restaurants should do better with marketing? Of course. But, should and could are two different scenarios.
If the UNCSA space has turned over three restaurants in just over four years, then something has to be said about the space, especially when the Diolis opened another restaurant that does decent (without a lot of advertising) and the Italian Market. I do believe that the location is perfect, the locale, not so much.
I like the debate, though. I’d like to talk about your favorite places. Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting!