The Hairy Lobster was a seafood restaurant in Portland, Oregon that garnered attention for its unique and artistic approach to plating dishes. However, despite its promising start, the restaurant eventually closed down.
There are various speculations as to why this happened, with some blaming the pandemic and others pointing to poor management. In this article, we’ll explore the possible reasons behind The Hairy Lobster’s closure and try to uncover the truth behind this Portland eatery’s downfall.
Why Did The Hairy Lobster Close?
One of the main reasons why The Hairy Lobster closed down was due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many restaurants across the country were forced to shut down or transition to takeout and delivery services in order to comply with safety regulations. Unfortunately, not all restaurants were able to adapt to this new way of doing business, and The Hairy Lobster was one of them.
Another possible reason for the restaurant’s closure was poor management. Some customers have reported that the restaurant would close for weeks at a time for “rejuvenation,” only to reopen with no noticeable changes. This suggests that there may have been issues with money management and high overhead costs.
It’s also worth noting that some customers have criticized the food at The Hairy Lobster, with some giving it a rating of 4 out of 10. While others have praised the unique and artistic plating of dishes, the quality of the food itself may have been a factor in the restaurant’s eventual closure.
The Rise Of The Hairy Lobster
Despite its eventual closure, The Hairy Lobster was once a rising star in Portland’s dining scene. The restaurant was opened in March of 2012 by husband-and-wife team David and Mellisa Root, both accomplished chefs with decades of experience in the food industry. The Roots aimed to bring a unique blend of Old World comfort food and modern techniques to their menu, with a focus on shared plates and historic recipes updated with contemporary flavors.
The restaurant quickly gained attention for its intimate atmosphere and whimsical touches, such as a wall of door knockers that symbolized the owners’ love for wild game, growing up in Idaho, and Mellisa’s pastry creations. The main dining room was dominated by an original painting by Chilean artist Carlos Valenzuela, depicting a pin-up cooking over a stove while a lobster lifts her skirt.
The Hairy Lobster’s menu was divided into three sections: Water, Garden, and Barn, with dishes like steamed Maine lobster with smoked sausage and roasted sweet potatoes. The Roots also made the unique decision to serve all of their dishes on old English china, collected over years of searching for the perfect pieces.
Despite some criticism of the food quality and management issues, The Hairy Lobster was once a beloved restaurant in Portland’s dining scene, known for its creative approach to comfort food and whimsical atmosphere.
The Unique Approach To Plating Dishes
One aspect of The Hairy Lobster that received both praise and criticism was their unique approach to plating dishes. Some customers appreciated the artistic presentation of their food, with dishes served on unconventional plates and garnished with intricate designs. However, others felt that the focus on presentation detracted from the quality and taste of the food itself.
The restaurant’s signature dish, the lobster roll, was served on a black brioche bun with a side of house-made chips arranged in a spiral pattern. Other dishes included a beet salad served on a wooden board with edible flowers and a salmon dish served on a bed of dry ice for added dramatic effect.
While this approach to plating may have been visually stunning, it’s possible that it also contributed to higher costs for the restaurant. Using unconventional plates and garnishes can be expensive, and may have added to the overhead costs that ultimately led to the restaurant’s closure.
The Initial Success
Despite its eventual closure, The Hairy Lobster did experience some initial success. The restaurant received positive reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and OpenTable, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. Customers praised the restaurant’s cocktails and the unique presentation of dishes. Additionally, the restaurant was located in the Pearl District of Portland, a popular area for dining and entertainment.
However, it’s important to note that success in the restaurant industry can be fleeting. Even with positive reviews and a prime location, restaurants must constantly adapt to changing trends and customer preferences. In the case of The Hairy Lobster, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an insurmountable challenge, and the restaurant ultimately had to close its doors.
The Impact Of The Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on The Hairy Lobster’s ability to stay open. As with many other restaurants, the pandemic forced The Hairy Lobster to close its doors temporarily and transition to takeout and delivery services. However, it appears that the restaurant was not able to adapt quickly enough to this new way of doing business, which may have contributed to its closure.
Furthermore, the pandemic created a challenging financial environment for many businesses, including The Hairy Lobster. With decreased revenue and increased expenses related to safety measures and transitioning to takeout, the restaurant may have struggled to stay afloat financially.
It’s worth noting that some customers have criticized the restaurant’s owner for blaming the governor for the closure, rather than taking responsibility for the restaurant’s inability to adapt. While government restrictions and financial support were certainly factors in the closure of many businesses during the pandemic, it’s important for business owners to also take responsibility for their own actions and decisions.
Signs Of Trouble: Negative Reviews And Staff Turnover
In addition to the aforementioned reasons, negative reviews and staff turnover may have also contributed to The Hairy Lobster’s closure. Some customers have left scathing reviews, describing the restaurant as a “mess” and the dishes as “disconnected” and “bewildering.” One critic even went as far as to say that the restaurant was a “massive disappointment.” These negative reviews could have driven away potential customers and hurt the restaurant’s reputation.
Moreover, there were reports of staff turnover at The Hairy Lobster. It’s unclear what caused this turnover, but it could be a sign of internal issues within the restaurant. High turnover rates can be costly for businesses, as they often result in lost productivity and increased training costs.
Poor Management And Financial Issues
In addition to the possible issues with money management and high overhead costs, there may have been other financial issues at play. One theory is that the owner of The Hairy Lobster may have taken out a mortgage on her condo to pay for the restaurant, which could have put her in a precarious financial situation.
Furthermore, it’s possible that the restaurant was not able to secure a PPP loan or other financial assistance during the pandemic. While many businesses were able to receive government aid to help them weather the storm, not all were successful in obtaining these loans.