What does Frank Bonanno think of the evolution of fine dining?
Well, I have two fine-dining restaurants [Mizuna and Luca D’Italia]. I don’t want to say that it’s dying — there are always going to be people who want to go out for a fine-dining meal. Eight of our [restaurants] are casual, under $30 check averages. The margins in a fine-dining restaurant are so slim. You’re living on razor thin margins, whereas at a casual restaurant, your margins are double or triple. That is why I opened up more casual restaurants without the linen and $18 wine glasses, $50 decanters, $28 plates, where the silver and china are so expensive and break, and you have to inventory hundreds of thousands of dollars of wine — that’s the one thing about fine dining and I don’t think people even realize that. If you come into a Mizuna or Luca [type of restaurant], yeah, I’m sitting on $180,000 of wine. I had to pay for that and I haven’t sold it.
I think it’s an important part of our society. I think that people should go out and have proper service. It does help elevate what restaurants appear to be, in my opinion. You can go out, and yes it’s expensive, but hopefully it was worth it and you appreciate it. It makes the other experiences better when you go out because it gives you a point of reference. I always think it’s good to sit down and have a two-hour meal, relax and have good conversation with friends.