Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Is The Stephen Starr - Jose Garces Rivalry Escalating?

letto deli philadelphia
The coveted Letto Deli in Midtown Village — a culprit?

A brief time line:

- 2001: Jose Garces goes to work for Stephen Starr (via Douglas Rodriguez) at Alma de Cuba.

- 2003: Stephen Starr opens El Vez after then employee Jose Garces brings him the concept.

- 2003: Garces debuts as Executive Chef at El Vez's opening for Starr.

- 2005: Garces leaves El Vez and SRO, opens Amada.

- 2005 - 2008: Both Starr and Garces enjoy success independently.

And now, the fun part:

- July 2008: Garces opens Distrito, directly competing with and looking somewhat similar to El Vez.

Says Garces at the time: "I opened El Vez in 2003. It was a concept I actually brought to Stephen [Starr]. When I left, of course, I had to leave El Vez behind. This [Distrito] feels like I'm taking back something that was mine, very close to my heart."

Note: Distrito was named after Distrito Federal, which is another name for Mexico City.


- October-December 2008: Starr, a self-professed expert at finding great space, finds and then bails on the super hot Letto Deli location in Midtown Village, unable to make the seating work for a rumored burger bar concept.

- October 2009: Garces signs lease for aforementioned super hot Letto Deli location in Midtown Village, vowing to bring a Brats and Beer concept to the space.

- October 2009: Starr signs lease for pretty solid Midtown IV diner location near Rittenhouse.

- November 2009: Garces wins The Next Iron Chef. (Former boss Starr not in attendance at victory party at Distrito.)

- November 2009: Starr releases name for the restaurant he plans for Midtown IV location: Mexico City. As in another name for Distrito Federal. As in Distrito...

ZING.

Starr and Garces will both play it down publicly.

But this recent stuff can easily be interpreted as blatantly obvious restaurateur jabs aimed at one another.

Which makes it all a little more entertaining, no?

Related:
Starr to say ole! to Rittenhouse Square [ The Insider - Philly.com ]

1 comment:

Cellar Rat said...

Garces restaurants will always best Starr restaurants because Jose actually serves delicious consistent food with professional well informed service. Starr restaurants are all style and no substance at all. You can't eat the decor and the catwalk ready server really loses their appeal when they stare at you like a deer in the headlights when you ask a question about the menu. Starr has yet to learn that lesson. SRO may have more restaurants, but they cater to a lower common denominator. Jose's restaurants have appeal for real foodies, not just celebrity chef gawkers.