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522 Shutters in Sonoma, New Restaurant Opening

Author: | posted 07/30/12 | Print This Post Print This Post |

Cafe 522 | Jeff Kan Lee

Cafe 522 quietly closed over the weekend in Sonoma, less than a year after opening. Despite positive critical reviews, (along with some not-so-spectacular Yelp reviews) owners have sold the business to Chef Rudy Mihal.

Reached by phone, Mihal (formerly of Odyssey) says plans to take over the space on Aug. 1, 2012 with a soft-opening slated for late August. He’s bringing a front of the house manager from the Michael Mina group, and hopes to transform the restaurant into contemporary American eatery.

No word on the name yet, but Mihal assures BiteClub the black truffle and short rib burger (minus the foie) is coming back.

The restaurant has seen a whirlwind of owners in the last four years, first as Shiso, then as Lokal and most recently as 522. Stay tuned for details.

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10 Responses

  1. crystal ockenfuss August 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    any word on what the new restaurant is called? I’d like to try it for my birthday on the 7th of September but I’d need a telephone # to make a reservation…

  2. Pastrychef23 August 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Rudy Mihal formerly of Odyssey…. what about formerly of Spoonbar? While everything about Spoonbar is different now with the new chef, and much improved, I do think that Rudy did well (at least some of the time) while at Spoonbar!

    • biteclub August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

      Rudy feels odyssey was more reflective of his personal style. I’ll leave it at that

  3. Laura August 1, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    The food was very good, the beer selection so-so. The problem was that the wait staff at 522 was marginal at best and the self aggrandizing owner/manager milling around micromanaging everything gave the place a creepy, tense vibe.

  4. Cheryl Schayer August 1, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    cafe 522 will be sorely missed by many in Sonoma county. The owners Jay and Todd were amazing owners and amazing to there customers and staff. The food was delicious and the atmosphere so inviting. They will be a hard act to follow. Thank you both for opening cafe 522 .

  5. Rob August 1, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Despite positive reviews like this one?

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-522-sonoma#hrid:HZCPmVwCPPS9Pxceb6NvsA

    Some people shouldn’t own/run restaurants

    • Brian B. August 1, 2012 at 8:52 am #

      Really Rob? Thanks for the ridiculous link. Do you get all your restaurant info from those enormously accurate, reliable (and always unbiased) YELP reviews?

      Yelp: a sharp, shrill cry, “yelped in pain”

      The site is mostly a forum for disgruntled employees, people with a beef, and idiots. There are 5 star reviews for McDonalds for chrissake.

      • Diane August 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

        While I agree that most people seem to use yelp to complain – that is still a horrible response from the owners.
        Food should be enjoyed by everyone and to talk down to a diner makes me angry!
        Instead of calling people uneducated idiots try to educate them.
        The food elitist attitude has got to go!

        Hopefully it will be replaced by a venue that has a better attitude.

      • Noah August 23, 2012 at 2:23 am #

        It wasn’t the review that hurt, it was the response. Engagement with critics is a delicate thing, and if the owners/management aren’t prepared to offer intelligent arguments, or even use proper grammar and conjugation… Stay out of it.

        Yelp! is often a center of negativity, but there are times when that negativity exposes the darkness behind a failed or suffering venture.

    • biteclub August 1, 2012 at 11:44 am #

      it’s a good point, rob. I did hear about that unfortunate incident after I wrote the piece. Restaurant Owner 101 is NEVER to get involved in the sniping. I actually tell owners to always be contrite (even when the comments are clearly stupid) and offer to make amends. Because typically the Yelper will NEVER take you up on it, but all the people who come afterwards will see that you are a good business owner and that you try to make the customer happy. You are responding to the people who DON’T post. I’m always amazed when owners get nasty with people, but i do see how it can be hurtful to them.

      I almost NEVER look at Yelp reviews locally, because I feel they might influence me unduly, and they are generally pretty idiotic. Because I know much of the backstory on some of these places, I can see the axes being ground and the unfair comments people post.

      That said, I actually do look at them sometimes when I am travelling just to get a general vibe of a place. If it has ALL one stars, I kind of go…hmmmm…do i really want to go there? I also look for the types of dishes people generally liked. It can be useful in that aspect.

      As ever, the market will bear out good vs. bad restaurants and their owners. The biz is gnarly even for people with years of experience. I always cringe when someone with little experience tries to open a restaurant. It’s brutal and the chances of success are slim.

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