Culinary no-no #659


Close to 700 Culinary no-no installments and I’ve mentioned the Bartolotta Restaurants several times, almost always in a positive manner. There was the time they dropped duck off one of their menus. My jab was mild and good-natured. And when they went too avant-garde with the menu at the newly decorated Bacchus. Otherwise I’ve been so nice.

On March 19 Chef Paul Bartolotta made an announcement on Facebook:

We have quickly realized it would not be enough to “flatten the community spread curve.” That is why I have made the painful and difficult decision to cease operations, including curbside service, at all Bartolotta Restaurants starting after service tonight, March 19, 2020, until further notice.”

This week I received an e-mail from Bartolotta that read like he was grinning from ear to ear when he or someone else on the payroll wrote it.

Slowly, the Bartolotta restaurants are phasing in their re-opening according to the chef.

I want to start by saying how incredibly grateful we are for the continued support of our community and our partners, and I want to share how thankful we are for our team members who did not give up on us during this time. 

This has been a challenging time for our community, but it thrills me to tell you that the first of our locations, Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993, will reopen on Wednesday, July 8.


That means all kinds of Bartolotta goodness is back!


Hold on.

There’s more.

Outdoor and indoor seating has been arranged in a way that allows for privacy and distance; and additional safety measures include:

  • Face masks required for staff members and guests
  • Reservations required (reservations will be held for 15 minutes) and temperature checks upon entry
  • Touchless payment options and QR codes to view menus on smartphones
  • Custom safety partitions between tables and booths
  • UV-C technology that actively seeks and destroys microorganisms in the air and on hard surfaces
  • Enhanced cleaning of dining tables with every new reservation

Last weekend our family went to a very nice, popular restaurant and dined inside. While the staff wore masks ( I get that) patrons were not required.

There were no temperature checks.

There were no partitions.

Nothing was roped off.

There was nothing blocking a customer from the bartender at the bar.

Worked just fine.

Ristorante Bartolotta in my view is going too far. Overboard restrictions will keep folks away from there and other places that claim to be acting in the interest of safety. Problem is they have killed one of the characteristics that appeal to restaurant customers. Practically gone is an inviting, open, accommodating atmosphere and experience.

Other Bartolotta restaurants have yet to open their doors.  Here’s hoping when they do they take it a bit easier.


The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery

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ICYMI, Culinary no-no #658

3 thoughts on “Culinary no-no #659

  1. Pingback: Culinary no-no #660 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  2. This is an anonymous reply by a Bartolotta employee having read your #659 blog. Paul is an incredibly pretentious wannabe/half-celebrity chef who had nothing to do with the success of the Bartolotta Restaurant Group. Joe Bartolotta, Chef Adam Siegel, and Director of Operations John Wise built that company. It’s a disgrace that he is being considered for the James Beard restauranteur award when he has had nothing to do with the company in the last 20 years. It’s an insult to Joe’s memory, as Paul is ruining everything that he built. Paul has spent 20 years living in Chicago or Las Vegas, while spending a few months out of the year at his villa in Italy. Since Joe’s death, he has done nothing but bring his pretentiousness and big-city attitude to the company. Micro managing every aspect, while taking months at a time to make the simplest of decisions. This will happen when you’ve worked in a hotel/casino in Las Vegas for 10 years with no budget and no overhead. (although they refused to renew him as the chef at the Wynn due to a loss of business) 20 year employees and multiple Chefs/GMs left the company in the aftermath of Joe’s death, because of Paul. The Bartolotta’s received over $1million in PPP loans while other restaurants around the city have received none. So far, he has opened 1 unit. The only 1 that matters to him. His first restaurant(which he left immediately after a few years to head to Spiaggia in Chicago) $1million for his 10+ units. None of that money was used to pay employees, other than the few Corporate earners who make 6 figures. Employees have received 1 update every 6-8 weeks via zoom “Town Halls” where he rambles about what they’ve been doing while lying to himself and everyone else by saying we will be bringing everyone back. They built a brand new patio at Ristorante and ordered Medical grade UV lighting. While claiming that they cut costs at every corner because he and his sister helped pick up furniture for the patio. They also painted! 800 employees left in the wind…There is no way, without the profits from Harbor House and after dropping all of that money on Bacchus, that this restaurant group will survive. Expect mass closings by the end of the year. 500+ unemployed with no job opportunities and no remaining unemployment benefits as most will no longer be eligible for unemployment at the end of September. Ristorante, Lake Park, and Harbor House will be the new BRG in 2021. Terrible leadership.


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