Hard Economy Forces Seldom Blues To Close

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    In a statement released by Michael Layne, Frank Taylor, a veteran of the restaurant business and owner of Seldom Blues, has announced that effective immediately, Seldom Blues LLC has decided to close Seldom Blues, located in the GM Renaissance Center.

    The restaurant, which opened in June 2004, and overlooked the Detroit River, filed for bankruptcy protection last September.

    The acclaimed restaurant with the white tablecloths became a downtown destination. Tourists came for nightly jazz and entrées like Lobster Pontchartrain, Sweet Chile Glazed Duck and Double Cut Lamb Rack.

    Seldom Blues opened shortly after General Motors completed a $500 million renovation of its world headquarters in the Renaissance Center. Often referred to as “a city within a city,” the Renaissance Center renovation was heralded as the catalyst for continued development within the building and along the Riverfront. At the time, more than 10,000 people worked in the complex.

    The restaurant closing resulted from three major factors — the financial distress brought on by Detroit’s automotive crisis, which hurt fine dining not only in downtown Detroit, but nationwide as well; the inability to negotiate a more favorable lease in light of changing economic conditions; and the downsizing of the shops, offices and employees in the GM Renaissance Center.

    Taylor said he regrets the necessity of rejecting the lease, based upon unacceptable monthly loses associated with operating a 17,000 square foot, 320-seat restaurant in Class A real estate.

    He pointed to curtailed dining entertainment budgets of GM executives; greatly reduced business-related entertainment and travel; the impact of two other fine-dining restaurants opening in the GM Renaissance Center after Seldom Blues opened; and the lack of valet parking as other factors in the declining profitability of the restaurant.

    Taylor will now focus his efforts on his Detroit Fish Market @ Paradise Valley and Detroit Breakfast House & Grill. New positions for the 40-person staff at Seldom Blues are being arranged at other restaurants Taylor operates.


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