Monday, April 20, 2009

Upscale South End steakhouse closes

McIntosh's, the "chain of one" upscale steakhouse that became a stalwart in South End, closed Saturday night after 13 years in business.

"We had a heck of a run there," owner Greg McIntosh said Monday morning. "The last two months in particular got ugly. If we were going into the fourth quarter, we'd be feeling differently, but we're … not going into a good time for high-end restaurants.

"I'd rather go out with my head held high. I would not want people to say, 'It's slipped.'… I tried to make the most honorable decision I could."

McIntosh opened the restaurant, first called Alston's, with a partner in 1996. Two years later, he bought out the partner and renamed the restaurant. In 2005, he completed a six-figure renovation, adding seats in the dining area, and a piano bar. McIntosh's placed among the city's top restaurants in the Zagat rating since it began surveying Charlotte voters in 2002. "My dad called me (this weekend)," said McIntosh, "and said, 'It's shameful. You just made the highest ranking steakhouse (in Charlotte) in Zagat.' "

When the restaurant first opened, Morton's had one location -- as it does again now, after closing its SouthPark site in January -- and "It was OK.. The town could absorb both of us. Then the Palm came in … and it was fine for awhile. Then Sullivan's and Capital Grille opened, and we all took a little bit of a hit. But people started settling in and deciding who was their steakhouse." Then 9-11 happened, and business everywhere slowed. "Then bam! There was Ruth's Chris, Del Frisco, Chima… the town went steak crazy, and we never really recovered from that."

Next, McIntosh says he plans to work "anxiously and vigorously" with his bank, Regents, which has been "really accommodating." And after that? "I really don't know. But I'm going to do something I haven't done in 18 years: Sit down for dinner at home with my family." His children are 15, 11 and 7.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

NICE RUN GREG! You were instrumental in starting this craze and should be considered one of the pioneers in Southend. Enjoy some time with the family as you deserve it!

Anonymous said...

Very sad. This place had more character, flavor and hospitality than any of the high-end chain places. Greg, you and your restaurant will be sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

But The Ranch House on Wilkenson still goes strong. All of this with no advertising and without beiung pumbed by The Charlotte Elite.

Will said...

I've never been to McIntosh's but after taking a look at their prices an obvious question comes to mind. If I can get a good steak dinner for $15 why would I pay $30+ for one that's only marginally better? I know it's never as simple as "Hey just change," but considering their pricing there has to be some wiggle room for change. Why close just because you can't be "high end?" While I'm not suggesting McIntosh's should have turned in to McDonald's the success McDonald's has had during the tough economy should serve as an example to the restaurant industry in general. When it comes down to it people want value.

Anonymous said...

Im not a fan of steak.

Anonymous said...

Will, Golden Corral is just down the street if that's your idea of a great steak.

Anonymous said...

You can't get a good steak dinner for $15. You're a fool and you deserve to eat at Longhorn the rest of your life.

McIntosh's was a great restaurant and I'll missit badly. It had a much classier vibe than Sullivan's and I certainly enjoyed that it wasn't a chain.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, McIntosh's became a really stuffy spot when people were craving more atmosphere. Greg had an opportunity to make his bar more social and less stodgy, but he didn't want to encourage the people who were going to Sullivan's in droves to consider his place; he was looking for another type of customer. In his defense, he always had a good product, but he failed to understand his market. Going uppity when the competition was going more mainstream and lively certainly contributed to this. I wish Greg and his family the very best.

Anonymous said...

McIntosh was just a little above average. I have dined at steakhouses worldwide and could tell you it would not make my top 50 list. For Charlotte it would haev been somwehere around 12.

J said...

This is part of the Charlotte market correction. Restaurants, along with housing developers, grossly overbuilit over the last 15 years, and they have suddenly realized that Charlotte doesn't have 1 million residents who are millionaires.

And there's nothing wrong with Outback, Longhorn, and the like, as long as the cooks on duty know how to cook (I'll grant you that it's risky making that assumption in some of those places). People are NOT fools just because they don't want to pay $30 per person for a decent meal.

Anonymous said...

Any time we lose a local business -ANY local business - it's a shame. Help to support locally, and the regional, and national economy will follow. Good Luck Greg - and thanks for takin' a stab at being a 'chain of one.'
Support local businesses - The Ranch House and Beef n Bottle are still kickin' Consider these options before going to the Walmart of steakhouses.

Anonymous said...

I will miss this place greatly. Greg and his staff were always welcoming and professional. Plus, the food was outstanding; Best of Luck, Greg.

Mark said...

Greg McIntosh is a fine, quality individual who wanted nothing but the best for his customers, employees, and family. He is a victim of a bad economic environment, caused by situations completely out of his control. I have the utmost respect and sympathy for Greg, as I can only imagine how difficult this decision has been for him. Charlotte needs more upstanding people like him. Best of luck in your future endeavors Greg.

Anonymous said...

I agree that anyone who thinks you can get a good steak dinner for $15 is a fool and should be forced to eat dogfood off the kitchen floor three meals a day. It's obvious that his tastebuds can't tell the difference and he doesn't give a crap about the ambience of the location.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it. This is terrible news. McIntosh's was easily the best in town.

Anonymous said...

Very few, if any,city has 1 million millionaires.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte doesn't have 1 million residents who are millionaires but it should work on obtaining that goal. I don't even think it is the fact that people don't have the money it is the fact that people here just don't have very good taste... in clothes, food, cars, etc. Just drive through all these "upscale" neighborhoods and see all the mini-vans and pick up trucks. It makes no sense...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where I can get a good steak?

the palm said...

so greg"plansto work anxiously and vigorously with the banks", translation= i suck as a businessman, theres no way the bank will ever get what i owe them.

Anonymous said...

Del Fresco's is really good.

Anonymous said...

I dined at Mcintosh's once and was very impressed. This is sad news. I've had the pleasure of eating in many of the top steakhouses in the US (e.g, Bern's in Tampa, Bones in Atlanta, Sparks in NYC, etc) and lived in Dallas where highend steakhouses are almost a religion. McIntosh's compared well to those. For those looking for an alternative give Del Frisco's a shot. It is a chain, but there are only 8 of them in the US. There is no franchising and the company maintains tight quality controls. They started in Dallas and represent the best of highend Texas steakhouses.

Also, I concur that there is no comparison in a $15 steak and a $35 steak. I don't drop $150 on dinner often but my wife and I like to splurge every now and then. Also, this is a great place for a business dinner.

Anonymous said...

This city has/had way too many steak places and this is what happens when you have too much of the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Greg,

You should have consulted with all the transplants from New York and New Jersey. They would have been excellent counsel on how to run a steakhouse.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I for one would rather eat dogfood off the floor than dine on filet mignon with a pompous @$$ who would say something like Anonymous 1:58. I've had terrible steaks at Ruth's Chris and great ones from Golden Corral. What you're paying for is the class of strangers sitting at the next table who see you there just like you see them, and as soon as you leave they forget you just like you forget them. Each has its place and time.

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that Charlotte is full of "fake money". The amount of people who actually have money here is a lot smaller than it seems. This city needs to do a better job of attracting more high-paying jobs.

Anonymous said...

Notice you DO NOT see any high scale steakhoue even attempting The Lake Norman area much less an area like Highland Creek. Those folks think you get good food at "Big Al's".

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks that Longhorn and Outback belong in even the same sentence as McIntosh or Sullivan's or Capital Grille is not qualified to comment. You have no appreciation for the bouquet of Dom or Moet if all you've known is Riunite and Arbor Mist. LOL! While I am exceedingly sad to see McIntosh go, surely a restauranteur knows how fickle elite restaurant-goers are. You can become a high-end "Cheers," wide open but sophisticated fun where everybody knows your name, which is how experience Sullivan's and Capital Grille, therefore I go every week. Or you can be stuffy and/or cutting edge thus relegated to special occasions. If you are so stuffy, you are only frequented for special occasions, you will die. Simple as that. I have no problems with a $100 dinner for two, but I'd like some warm-fuzzy while I do it.

i don't want to go backwards! said...

Ah, the Golden Corral. Soon that is all we will be left with... flashback to the Charlotte of 15-20 years ago. God help us all.

Anonymous said...

I say good riddance. They refused to host Takeover Friday, a gay social event.

Were rather blunt about it. If they had any cojones they would have posted a no gays allowed sign. Since such discrimination is perfectly legal in NC. But no they are hypocrites to boot. And their food sucked.

Anonymous said...

Taco Bell makes a delightful carne asada taco salad.

Anonymous said...

Greg McIntosh and his restaurant are the finest in which I've ever worked.

I'm proud to been a part of McIntosh's, it's character and all it brought to the city of Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

I bet if they opened a Chilis in McIntosh's place it will be busy all the time! Gotta love Charlotte HAHA.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to eat at places that don't put pictures of the food on their menus. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Remember Charlottes Got-a-lot.

Where will the elite of the PGA Tour and Nascar dine in the coming weeks?

Will said...

WOW. A lot of passionate high end exclusive super special steak eaters here. Where was all this passion when this place was open?

Louie said...

This city is actually one of the wealthier per capita in the nation. There are something like 15,000 people with a net worth of over $1million in the city right now. I suspect that number has been impacted by the recession, but still, Charlotte has plenty of people with money. However, I still agree that the city is overbuilt in regards to some high end amenities such as luxury condo towers and stakehouses. Just because we have X amount of millionaires, doesn't mean those people are burning that money. At it's core, Charlotte is a very conservative city. Which makes sense when you consider it's deep roots as a financial center.

Anonymous said...

It has nothing to do with steak. Charlotte just sucks.

Anonymous said...

15,000... with a city population of almost 700,000. That's not a lot and it's not enough. Charlotte is nothing more than an overgrown country town and UNFORTUNATELY most people are OK with that.

Anonymous said...

If only there were a lite rail line to generate business in that area.

Algore said...

Great news! Cows cause global warming, anyways.

Anonymous said...

Haven't been there in years. The last two times we dined there, the experience wasn't up to par. I made a request when making the last reservation which was completely ignored, and never addressed even after asking several servers. Too much competition in this class of dining, equals not going back and giving bad reviews when asked what' your favorite steakhouse.

Anonymous said...

Except for the negative implications for Charlotte's overall financial health, I personally don't care. We have other steak options if we want them. Still, it's always sad to see someone lose their life's work. I wish Greg McIntosh the best.

3:03, would you please stop with the name-calling? Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that McIntosh's represented what is being lost in this country, the independent, entrepeneurial spirit. And all of us here will be the lesser for it. Whether you thought the restaurant was the best or even the worst steakhouse in city, it stood on its own. Would you rather go to a chain restaurant where the management and wait staff come and go like your nearest B of A branch or go to a place like McIntosh's where the owner is the manager who greets you at the door each evening...and often by name and sincerely cares about the quality of your meal. Isn't that what makes an independent restaurant so special and why we want to go back and support it. Sad to say, I guess it wasn't and too bad for us. Hope everyone continues to enjoy Golden Corrall, Appelbee's and the rest of the chains that make most cities in this country imminently forgettable.

Louie said...

I am gay, have been to Takeover events, and personally, if I owned someplace like McIntosh's, I'd probably turn down a Takeover request myself. The Takeover events are noisy, some people are drunk and offensive, and they tend to trample the unknowing patrons of a said establishment when it is "taken over." I just wouldn't risk alienating my core clientele with ANY sort of event like that.

Case and point: I used to work at two B&B/Inn's here in town, and always felt SO sorry for the lodging guests whose stays coincided with special events on those properties (mainly weddings). Those lodging guests were unaware until check that there was an event taking over the entire properties. Plus they were unable to use the common spaces or sleep before 11pm, and had to deal with noisy, drunken, trashy wedding guests during their stays. Same principle when it comes to Takeovers... I personally would never do anything like that if I were a business owner. I do realize it's a lot of money to be made from events like Takeovers, and you expose your property to many possible new patrons... but with a place such as McIntosh's, you certainly risk sullying your name in the process.

Anonymous said...

Is this the textbook example of Economies to Scale? To many places to have upscale steaks & not enough sense to figure out which is the best. There will be more. My hats off Greg, I wish you best, and you certainly did everything you could to bring excellent food & dinning to Charlotte.

JAT said...

I'm sorry, but steak is just not fine dining to me -- I can make a REALLY good one at home.

For great, nothing topped the open pit at Mormon Lake Lodge outside Flagstaff. Ruth Chris etc. tasted like cardboard compared to that.

Anonymous said...

If i'm gonna pay that much for a steak, i'd rather head to the grocery store or meat market, for twice the size, light up my fire pit, and toss it over an open flame.

Anonymous said...

Well gee, I have been to many Takeovers as well and our behavior is no worse or no better than straight patrons. It's discrimination. Quite legal as I stated in my first post. But it's still wrong.

Anonymous said...

Oh NO!!! Not Longhorn!!! What an idiot. There are people in this world who would probably kill you for a McDonald's hamburger, and eating at Longhorn is suppose to disgust someone or belittle them. Dude you're pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember this place trying to go after the Sully crowd. But they tried with $10 martinis instead of $5 Cab. You can't force your customers to adhere to your product/prices, it's the other way around.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with economies of scale. Steakhouses are nothing like public utiliies. This is a case of oversupply in a time of declining demand. It is disappointing that the local guy is the one who lost out.

Anonymous said...

Nice red herring about world hunger. I thought the discussion was about quality steaks.

Anonymous said...

Greg Macintosh was a class guy with a class operation. He was one of the earlier establishments in the Southend and made the recent renovations to keep his operation up to snuff. Wish you well and will miss your veal chops and garlic potatos.

Anonymous said...

"will" posted: "If I can get a good steak dinner for $15 why would I pay $30+ for one that's only marginally better?"
==============
Well, for people that *dare* think there's such a thing as a "good steak dinner for $15" in 2009 and something from MacIntosh's is "only marginally better" ... high-class steak joints just aren't for you, I guess. Much the same with driving: There's BMW's for some and others are happy with a Saturn. I'll stick with the Bimmer, thank you.

Anonymous said...

McIntosh's was a great steakhouse. For someone who grew up in this city, it saddens me to see one of our own have to close. I wish people had seen it more as a "neighborhood" restaurant and supported it as such. No matter how you feel about McIntosh's, its closing means more people are out of work and that's never a good thing.

I've read the comments posted regarding "over-priced steaks" and the Golden Corral being "just as good". Although I agree McIntosh's could've done better in adjusting for the economy with their menu and pricing, to say food quality is the same at McIntosh's as it is at the Golden Corral is like saying a Lexus drives like a Kia. Besides, at least at McIntosh's I don't have to worry about watching Billy Bob redneck rub his belly at the table next to me, because he's about to bust from eating all of the chicken wings on the buffet.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the folks at Lake Norman just don't need a $200 meal to satiate their overblown EGOs!

I'm no stranger to the restaurant industy, ahving grown up and worked in five diamond restaurants throughout college. Greg did a wonderful job and this is truly a loss, but there are indeed, other fine options.

And as for the crack on the lake, I would argue that Mike Vaughn has done an excellent job with 131 Main, as have the folks at North Harbor Club and Tim Shaeffer's. Don't confuse the lack of need for bragging rights with a lack of sophistocation in the pallet.

I would agree that $15 is likely to be a pretty marginal steak, but $28 for the marinated ribeye at 131 is quite good for the money.

But if you still need to impress others to feel good about yourself, I'm sure there are plenty of options for you in Southpark and Ballantyne.

How Nice!

Anonymous said...

Exceptional food and service always. I called ahead to request an item that was not on the menu and the chef made it for my wife's birthday. I will certainly miss it. We should all support local owned business for everthing. Car service, healthcare, dining