Videogame fans are well familiar with the Madden Curse, the malady that befalls the cover athletes of EA Sports' hit football game, Madden NFL. Each year, the athletes that appear on the cover of Madden fall victim to injuries, career slumps, or just poor play. Just look at the facts: Shaun Alexander, Vince Young, Brett Favre, Ray Lewis, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk. All of them suffered injuries or poor years after their appearance on the Madden cover.
There's been talk of a similar scenario befalling winners of New TimesBest Of awards. The Best Of Curse, as it's called, would apparently shutter restaurants or businesses that receive awards in our annual Best Of Broward Palm Beach issue. Some say it's as real as the Madden Curse. But is it?
I had to question that myself after learning recently that our 2010 Best Of recipient for Best Barbecue, Art's BBQ in Coral Springs, closed abruptly one month ago after nearly ten years in business. Despite being beloved in West Broward for some very true-to-form barbecue, Art's was gone just three months after receiving the award for Best Barbecue in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Thankfully, a little digging found out that Art's isn't really belly up after all. It simply moved to Altamonte Springs, a suburb of Orlando, where it's still slinging its superb 'cue. A call to the new Art's confirmed that it moved due to lease issues with the building it rented here. But the point is Art's no longer operates in South Florida. Not anymore.
Four months out from the 2010 Best Of issue, at least one other restaurant has closed as well: NY Strip. We said the cabaret/steak house had the Best Steak Above $50 (expensive, yes; also so very good), and now it's no more. But that had to be location, not the curse: The place was hidden in an industrial park in Pompano Beach, with no street visibility and little traffic.
How about previous Best Ofs?
In 2009, we gave Bova Prime our Best Appetizer award, and that restaurant is now closed thanks to Scott Rothstein's misadventures. We also called House of Sweets the Best Bakery in 2009, and now it's gone. Our favorite place to cure a hangover that year -- Testa's in Palm Beach -- closed for the summer amid rumors it won't reopen.
In light of this evidence, you could make something of a case for a Best Of Curse. After all: If we're naming a restaurant the best in a certain category, shouldn't it be good enough to withstand market factors and stay open?
On the flip side, what about the 58 other restaurants that received awards in 2009? They're all still open. In 2010, 51 of 53 restaurants (at least to my knowledge) are still going strong. Isn't it reasonable to expect that among more than a hundred restaurants selected in a two-year span, 4 percent of them would close? I'd take those odds any day: That's much better than the average failure rate of restaurants, which is somewhere near 60 percent for restaurants in their first three years of business.
So what do you think? Do you think the Best Of Curse is real? More important, will you miss Art's?