Wednesday, January 23, 2008

John Jacob Got Grilled

Can't say I was overly surprised that John Jacob's Waterfront Grill failed. The only thing it had going for it, aside from one of the best damn views in Astoria, was the "happy hour" menu - which was great! Their regular menu was completely over-priced.

And, from the few people I've talked to who actually gave their credit cards panic attacks paying for a meal, the food was just "okay." Just "okay" is hardly a rave review when you're charging pocket-busting prices, no matter how wonderful the view is.

My biggest complaint about the new wave of bars/restaurants around Astoria, including the John Jacob, is yuppification. Barren walls, sterile environments and seriously ass-busting narrow, spindly wooden chairs. The second I plant my butt at the bar in one of these joints, I can't wait to get up and get the hell outta of there.

I mean, what the hell happened to the concept of COMFORTABLE bar chairs? You know ... the ones that swivel, and have padding, and have backs on them, and arm rests, and foot rests. Now that I think of it, tho, the price of the beer is so high in a lot of these yuppified joints it's just as well the chairs are unbearable. At least now I'm so worried about splinters and a splinted wallet I don't even think about actually conversing with people. Which makes the whole reason for being there in the first point completely moot.

If you want a comfortable place to sit and drink beer and talk in THIS town, you'd better go home, open a beer, find a comfy chair, and get on the phone - the notable exception being the Golden Star's little bar, which is both comfy and cozy, and the food is cheap and plentiful.

Unsolicited advice to whoever buys the John Jacob: throw out those goddam chairs and get some new, comfortable ones. Add more beers on tap. Simplify the menu, and make it affordable to the town residents. Get the gambling machines back, too, if you want locals, as they're a good source of revenue (ask any local successful bar owner). In other words, don't just aim for the tourist crowd - they're only here a few months a year, and you need year-round regulars.

I'd really like to see that place succeed for a change, and I suspect if whoever buys it doesn't get greedy and aim strictly to fleece tourists, they might have a chance.

Click here to see Elleda's photography at the Astoria Photografpix web site


Jen said...

Okay, you are killing me. Thanks for the out-loud laugh. I esp. liked the tip on where to find a comfortable place to go and have a beer. I appreciated the post and the chuckle today.

Elleda said...

Hey Jen,

Thank you very much! You know, I'm a spoiled old Yankee girl, and I've come to expect a comfy bar as my due in life. Guess I came to the wrong town, for the most part!


nootka said...

Agreed, it's too bad there are not more places like you describe.
I used to love the Pacific Rim (beneath the bridge where the Fish Market is, now...good food and comfy booths/tables and a bar w/gambling machines and pool tables!).
Hopefully your astute observations will be noted and applied!

Elleda said...

I have heard a great deal about the Pacific Rim, all of it good, and I'm sorry I missed it.

And yes, what I'm describing as the ideal bar/restaurant for both locals and owners sounds just like it.

I really think the key to making the Pier 11 location work is to gear it for the locals and a year-round crowd of regulars. And a lot of tourists actually look for places locals go to ... so the tourist crowd would follow (think Bull & Finch Pub in Boston that the concept of "Cheers" was taken from).

Astoria is long overdue for a comfy Cheers of its own!

Anonymous said...

My name is Mark Popkin and I'm the owner of the Pier 11 building. I got forwarded your blog. I am not the owner of John Jacob. From the beginning the restaurant did not deliver what they promised me to do. I totally concur with the concept that you all are suggesting and have been encouraging the future tenant that I choose to adhere to that. I thought I would let you know. If you have other thoughts let me know, my email is

Elleda said...


Thank you for writing! I really love that building, and think it has an incredible amount of potential, as you obviously know.

I've been thinking about the place a lot since I posted that blog, and I think it deserves another look.

If you don't mind, I'll do it as another post, because that way you might get more input than just mine.

Thanks again,