“Rocket will close Saturday, November 8th”
Economic pressure and critical dissatisfaction combine to make continuing on our current course impossible. We are, however, resolved to keep our beautiful space and our magical garden for as long as we can. To that end, we intend to become a private venue. We hope that you will consider Rocket for your functions: holiday parties, birthdays, receptions, hip-hop throw downs, pinochle tournaments and any other events you can imagine. We will also sponsor several events of our own: wine dinners, thematic menus and roof produce driven dinners. Despite the current national vogue of finger pointing, I’m afraid the responsibility for our failure lies squarely with me. In an attempt to wow and titillate I forgot the fundamentals of a pleasant dining experience: thoughtful, delicious food served expertly. In a fever for molecular gastronomy and cute, clever combinations, I alienated customers and critics. Bring on the humble pie.
This is not a tragedy. Employees will be paid, debts will be honored and there will be no absconding with cash. There are no investors left holding an empty bag. The ripples of our closure are contained.
We would like to extend an invitation to you to join us one last time in the coming weeks. We will host a tequila dinner on November 5th . That will be fun. Other than that we will continue our dinner service, Tuesday through Saturday, from five until whenever. There is still plenty of produce to pick and liquor to drink. We’d love to see you in Rocket and we hope you’ll keep us in mind in the future. Please forward this message to anyone who might find it helpful and remember to subscribe to our newsletter.
Pretty classy exit statement. Humble, self-deprecating, and honest. I wish Mr. Storrs success elsewhere in the industry. Does he still have a stake in Noble Rot?
Food Dude says
If he’d taken that attitude long ago, he probably wouldn’t be closing. I don’t believe he has a stake in Noble Rot, but rumor is, he’s going to be opening a new place. Seems doubtful, but that’s the rumor.
Food Dude – why don’t you lay off?
You’ve had a passionate relationship with Rocket from the beginning and your loaded suggestion that Storrs has no stake in Noble Rot (his wife co-owns the place doesn’t she?) and that it “seems doubtful” that Storrs might open a new place in the future betray a mean streak and an unfortunate need on your part to kick a guy when he’s down.
Show some class and let the place close with dignity.
Classy response from a classy guy. Leather may be opinionated, but he is honest, and a good person. ( As were / are his parents. He comes form good stock, and he will be back in the Portland food scene. His mussle soup still brings a smile to my face. But then I supported him when he cooked at night at the Bijou. I am sorry I did’nt support him enough at Rocket.
Food Dude says
Phaedrus, I was a fan of Noble Rot when he was there (and still am). However leather opened a lousy restaurant, didn’t listen to the critics, didn’t listen to his customers, and blamed his problems on everyone else. It’s hard to respect someone like that, and I call them as I see them. I think is is doubtful that he might be opening a new place, because he just failed in one restaurant, and the idea that he can find an investor to support a new restaurant in this economy doesn’t make a lot of sense.
salty ham says
Ladies and Gentleman
Let it be noted,
The success of a restaurant
does not come easily.
But what Leather tried to do
was an accomplishment of it’s own.
I moved back to Portland and ate at Rocket after the bad press had been written and forgotten. I only had incredibly wonderful food and dining experiences there. I feel that people were quick to judge and did not give the place another chance even after hearing that changes had been made. You missed out! I will follow Leather to what ever other venture he tackles, knowing that his talent and wit will be on full display and be something that I don’t want to miss.
I never went to Rocket, because i heard to many scattered things. But I have to tip my hat to his closing statements. I also agree with Salty Ham – it’s easy to sit on the outside and point fingers, but ultimately, it’s a huge feat for someone to go after their vision, no matter what the rest of us think of it.
I think we all had high hopes for Rocket. I loved going there for burgers, beer, and the best view in the city. The $14 price tag for a cheesburger was hefty, but man what a view. I’ll miss it.
Food Gems says
Food Dude – I appreciate your opinion and your honesty.
Dude’s not “kicking anyone when they’re down” rather stating his opinion which in this case is pretty informed.
I work in this industry and I hope that we can all take a few minutes to consider reality. Times are very tough and gonna get tougher. Chefs and owners who have pricey leases, overbuilt their restaurants, don’t know how to manage the myriad costs of product and staff will piece it together as long as they can get away with it (we know who they are) or they will go under. In Leather’s case sounds like it was his own inherited wealth that he spent on Rocket and much of it is gone. Sounds like he will continue to use the space and that makes sense – he probably has to pay the lease and there are no eager folks to pick up that lease so he’s trying to find a way to bring something in.
He probably will do another project one day using whatever is left from his personal coffers that he hasn’t already spent.
The real point is that new places come and they go. Luckily, Leather will clean up the mess rather than walk away from it according to his comments. We should all be more thoughtful, critical as consumers and community members – don’t suck up what you read or be impressed by glossy shots in a magazine. Many restaurants in town have better PR than they do food, service or fiscal management. I am pretty tired of locals making someone an item or star and then we are shocked when it implodes. We are bombarded by raves about chefs and restaurants right now — most of them will probably be closed in a year or two.
I have finally figured out that is how it works.
I am thankful for the ones who know what they are doing, deliver a great, consistent product, don’t build a business on a gimmick, meet their payroll, pay their landlord and purveyors and aren’t scum bags or liars. Those are the restaurants where I spend my money.
Honest, well-written farewell letter. Not sure why you, Food Dude, don’t go by the moniker Mean Girl. Rocket was rockier than it should’ve been, granted — truly outstanding when it was on, and not when it wasn’t. Leather takes responsibility so why malign him as blaming others?
I never understood why it didn’t get re-reviewed after the opening slams. The effort was made by Leather et al, but not, it seems by the reviewers. Having enjoyed many nights there where it all fell into place, Rocket will remain one of my all-time favorite places.
Food Dude says
I’ve never had a good meal at Rocket, I don’t even remember having a dish that stood out. Leather wrote me several times asking that I come back, and when I did, I found things had changed, but not enough to write a new review. If it had improved, more would have been written by local critics, just as was the case at Ten 01.
I stand by what I said. If you don’t agree, that’s fine – there are plenty of other food blogs around that will kiss ass to get free meals and whatnot. I’m not one of those, so I suggest you move on.