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January 31, 2002
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Grow No More

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Expansion has killed more restaurants than bad food ever has. And no matter what some peevish restaurateur or money-hungry publisher may tell you, a negative review never hurt anyone’s business. In fact, in the seven years I’ve had this gig, not one place I’ve slammed has gone out of business, and most are thriving.

On the other hand, many places I’ve lauded over the years are no longer with us; 1-6-8 Shanghai, Petite Provence, and the Fog City Diner, among others, all failed, despite constant cheerleading from me. And keep in mind, at one time, I was also the restaurant critic for Las Vegas Weekly, A Taste of Vegas, numerous guide books and web sites around the country, and Las Vegas Lite magazine. Those jobs taught me that the worst thing a bad review can do is bruise a few egos. Just like the worst thing a good cook can do is overextend himself and his resources.

I say this because two of my east side favorites over the years, Tinoco’s Bistro and Lindo Michoacan, have recently opened new joints on the west side of town…but as much as I admire the Barajas family and Enrique Tinoco, I’m not sure either made such a wise move.

On two successive days recently, I dined at Bonito Michoacan and Tinoco’s west. Both are competently run restaurants, with some of the flashes that made their namesakes famous, but neither is the equal of their predecessor. My theory has always been that a new operation must double one’s overhead and headaches, without an equal rise in revenue, thus causing corners to be shaved and compromises to be made. Not that Tinoco’s or Bonito isn’t worth going to. Just don’t expect quite the fabulous food that made these folks famous. For that you’ll have to go to their original stores.

But come to think of it, if I really want them to succeed (which I do), and history is any judge, maybe the biggest favor I can do for Mr. Tinoco and the Barajas family, is to á/øk their new ventures…instead of damning them with faint praise.

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