Gino Cutting Its Nose To Spite Its Face?

By John Capone
|  Monday, Jan 4, 2010  |  Updated 10:00 AM EDT
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Gino Cutting Its Nose To Spite Its Face?

Gino and its famous wallpaper

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The writing may be on the, er, wallpaper, for Gino, the venerable Upper East Side Italian eatery that may be better known for its red wallpaper  -- festooned with prancing zebras -- than it is for its marinara sauce at this point.

Reports of a mystery a buyer in December, one who would save the restaurant amid a 70 percent revenue decline and changing culinary tastes, appear to have been overstated. An interview in amNY says the owners Michael Miel and Salvatore Doria have given themselves until the end of the January to find a buyer, which sort of contradicts news that they had found one already.

“The best hope is that someone will buy it and continue as it is,” Miele said to the paper.

Why this is the best hope only God and Miele know, since he goes on to say that the business is a money suck and unsustainable the way its been run. But on the face of it, the notion that attention to detail and ingredients sounds the death knell for a restaurant seems absurd given that many recent sucesses around the city are founded on just that principle. Adam Plat even claimed recently it as the basis for New York-style cuisine.

Judging from the boite's much lauded paper ledger for house accounts -- which includes Frank Sinatra and Bernie Madoff -- the bigger problem might be that most of the old customers are either dead or in prison.

The stubborn refusal to cut staff or reduce prices seems ill advised in the face of lower turn-out, rising food costs and changing times. “Everything in the world has changed, but not this,” Doria told amNY. “If it dies, it dies the way it was born.” Many an old Italian grandmother has a phrase for this: They might say it's cutting your nose to spite your face.

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