Capitalism Rampant in Pittsburgh Restaurants

Pittsburgh restauranteurs are shocked (shocked!) to find capitalism finally creeping into the region. McCormick & Schmick's, an upscale national seafood chain, just moved into the SouthSide Works and hired managers away from Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, atop Mt. Washington. Sniffed Monterey Bay's owner: That sort of thing is "unheard of" in Pittsburgh. The owner of The Carlton raised the ante, in a Pittsburgh kind of way: "It's not typically the kind of business ethics people in this region practice," he said. "There's nothing illegal about it, but it's not the way restaurant owners in Pittsburgh generally operate."

The owner of the new place replied: "Last time I heard, Lincoln freed the slaves in 1864." Perfect.

I've eaten at McCormick & Schmick's in DC and in San Francisco. It's no French Laundry (yes, I've eaten there), but it's a giant step up from Bravo and Olive Garden (eaten there, too). More important, it's a big step up from Monterey Bay, which has to be one of the most overrated restaurants in town. It's also a step up from The Carlton, which has decent food that's overwhelmed by the starchiest atmosphere this side of Wall Street.

(Aside: have the Monterey Bay people actually been to Monterey? That restaurant wouldn't last a day out there. What's with the Miami Vice decor? The smoke-filled-but-nowhere-else-to-go-waiting-room-bar?)

Shed no tears for hometown kitchen businesses that can't stand the heat. In real restaurant towns -- New York and San Francisco -- it's a cutthroat business. For Pittsburghers who like good restaurants, McCormick & Schmick's is good news, even if they never eat there.



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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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