It all started in Los Angeles. While the rest of the world happily got dressed up to go out and watch waiters sneer at their use of the wrong fork, we had different ideas. We were fed up with food museums.
People who had nice clothes and nice cars and could afford to eat anyplace they wanted were suddenly tired of the palaces of pretension. They decided that eating out should be fun. It was a radical idea. It was the start of a restaurant revolution.
And it caught on. Fancy expensive restaurants just didn't have the appeal that they once did. Wonderful new restaurants with talented chefs--places like Max Au Triangle and La Couronne--failed. They were simply too fancy. Wonderful older restaurants--like Les Anges and La Petite Chaya closed their doors too. Meanwhile, casual restaurants were so busy you could hardly get in the door. Seeing the writing on the wall, restaurateurs all over town started opening less-expensive spin-offs. Valentino opened Primi; L'Orangerie opened Pastel; Chaya Brasserie opened Flags. And it just keeps accelerating. Mauro Vincenti just opened Pazzia, which serves quality food at a fraction of the cost of his Rex. The Grill will open a little brother in about six weeks. And any day now Ken Frank will close La Toque, redecorate and re-create a more casual and less expensive restaurant on the spot.