Tuesday, August 29
Notre Dame on a rainy day.
Heads on Pont Neuf on a rainy day.
Ducks sleeping by the
Water running in the gutter on a rainy day, while we took shelter at a
View of the Louvre from beneath an arch at the Pont du Carrousel (photo). We have fond memories of sitting on a bench
here, with our cat General Burnside, years ago when we stayed at the Hotel de Lille
and the hotel maid was deathly afraid of cats. We were asked to take the cat out while the
room was cleaned. They took forever to
get to our room, and it started to rain.
We took shelter here, under this arch, and waved at passengers on the Bateaux Mouches. The passengers fell in love with the
General at first sight. He had a way
of charming people instantly, everywhere he went.
After leaving this spot, we found a sandwich place that was open (3PM and
they still hadn’t cleaned our room!), so we went in with the General in his
carrier. Madame saw him, and brought
her own cat down from the apartment above.
They could have been brother and sister, those two cats. The General was nice, but Madame’s cat was
not too pleased to see him at all.
The business of
restaurants fascinates me. I like
restaurants; obviously, Tom and I frequent them far more than most people
do. Our friends at Doc Ford’s on Sanibel know how
interested we are in the business because we’ve had so many conversations
with them about various aspects of running that fine eatery.
And although I
love to cook, I’ve never been interested in being in the restaurant business
because I know it is so very competitive and not that profitable. My dad, years ago, had clients who owned
restaurants, and I remember my dad’s tales about how tough it could be for
Parisien has a two-page spread about famous brasseries and
Tom and I
remember reading an article or essay a few years ago about the shock and
horror felt by the staff and loyal customers of a famous old brasserie, I
think it was La Coupole, when the chain called FLO purchased it. Well, it survived, and the ironic thing is
that this year, FLO was bought out by two even larger investment groups, CNP
(Albert Frères) and Tikehau.
are still referred to as “le groupe FLO,” and they include a number of fine
old brasseries like La
Coupole as well as chains such as Hippopotamus (80 restos) and Bistrot Romain (40
I was shocked
to see that the beautiful La
Fermette Marboeuf was purchased by a chain called les Frères Blanc, I’m
not sure when, and that last year this chain was bought by CDC enterprise
capital. The oldest restaurant in
Paris, Le Procope, is also owned by
this group, and so is the chain Chez
Clément (12 restos).
to me is that the restaurant we fondly refer to as “the white sheep place” (L’Auberge
du Mouton Blanc) is owned by the Gerard Joulie group. So is
So, how much
does one of these places cost?
According to the reporter Valèrie Hacot, a beautiful brasserie costs
the equivalent of its annual sales. If
the place is prestigious, it can cost more.
A brasserie that funtions very well will have an average of 5 million
euros in annual sales. Some “jewels”
are much more. L’Alsace
(part of les Freres Blanc), for example, has nearly 15 million euros in
annual sales. Same for La Coupole.
When asked why
investment groups are investing in restaurant groups, Mark Watkins, the
president of Coach Omnium, market
research group that specializes in the restaurant and hotel business, said he really cannot understand this. These investment funds typically have to
make a 14 to 20 percent annual profit, and they have to be able to sell the
acquisition at a profit in three to five years. However, a very well managed restaurant
makes, at the most, only 5 to 8 percent annual profit. (Is that true, Marty?)
Last night we
had another delicious meal with our friend Alan at L’Antre Amis, a restaurant
that is still individually owned. The
owner & staff are so friendly. I
wish them a profitable future.
bench where we sat under the Pont du Carrousel
with the General is now all broken up by vandals. I do hope that the City of