Owner and Chef Cast Blame on Sous Chef for Smith & Jones Failure
Since the closing of Smith & Jones last weekend, those who worked in the kitchen and those who paid the bills are trying to figure out who's to blame for the restaurant's failure.
In an article posted here Monday, sous chef Ted Inserra blamed a steep Las Olas overhead and a slow summer dining season.
But lawyer Carl Karmin, who co-owned the restaurant with celebrity chef Johnny Vinczencz and Bob Woltin, says Inserra was as much to blame as anyone else. "Tell him to please show up for work," Karmin said of Inserra. "Ted can't add two and two and come up with four."
Meanwhile, Smith & Jones' chef de cuisine, Randy Harris, also cast blame toward Inserra. "He was a laughing joke to everybody in the restaurant," Harris said of Inserra.
Asked for a response, Inserra said it would be impossible for him to have ruined the restaurant. "As sous chef, you don't have that much power," Inserra said. "It's mind-
boggling to me that they would cast blame at me for this."
said he was the morning sous chef, meaning he received orders,
butchered meat and fish, worked the line at lunch, and left before
dinner. He worked Sundays for brunch and took off Mondays. He quit
earlier this month and says that's probably why they looked to him as
the reason the place failed. "It's easy to blame the person who's not
there," he said.
When asked about whether a sous chef should take
that much blame, Karmin said things slowed down considerably this
summer at Smith & Jones. Asked why it closed, he said: "If you have
that answer, let me know."
Harris said he found out Smith &
Jones was closing when the owners came to his house on Sunday to pick up
the keys to the restaurant. "We all knew it was kind of happening. The
business wasn't picking up. We weren't getting costs down enough."
is currently on vacation in Spain, but Harris says he hopes his head
chef will have a spot for him in another restaurant. Vinczencz brought
Harris over to Smith & Jones after Harris served as sous chef at
Vinczencz's flagship restaurant, Johnny V's.
Karmin says Johnny
V's will remain open and is not, as Inserra said on Monday, for sale.
Asked how it's doing, he said: "Doing fine. Summertime. It's actually... doing fine."
The owners will likely work on a new concept for
the Smith & Jones space, which may or may not include Vinczencz as
chef, Karmin said. He's hoping it will reopen in the middle of
September. "Right now," he said, "we're just looking to regroup and
recharge our batteries."
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