Thursday, January 19, 2012

Island Hut, I hardly knew you...

Well, as Good Eatin in Wheaton hinted in a post last week, it appears that Gloria's Island Hut has indeed closed, but with hopes of reopening at some point in the future.  It's unfortunate timing after being mentioned (along with Ren's Ramen) as one of the Post's food critic Tom Sietsema's "Tom's Cheap Eats". 

Mr. WC has continued his intrepid reporting by getting in touch with Island Hut owner Gloria via email, and she provided this response:

"We apologize for the delay in notifying our customers. A message was supposed to be placed on our website. We had many issues with Greenhill Realty and had no choice but to close our doors.

We are considering reopening at a later date.

Thank you,

It's interesting that their landlord is Greenhill Realty, whose owner was recently featured in a Just Up the Pike post about their attempts to develop property in Wheaton.  Based on stories I've read/heard from some of Greenhill's former tenants, they are fairly unforgiving if a business falls on hard times and gets behind in payments.  This is certainly their right as a landlord, but I have to wonder about this strategy when many of their properties in Wheaton sit vacant.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gazette Article about Royal Mile

I promise that I will be posting about something other than Royal Mile within a few days, but the Gazette website has just posted an article about the status of the pub.  Among the more interesting tidbits is that a co-owner of Flanigan's Harp & Fiddle in Bethesda was in discussions in November with Mike Moore about becoming a partner in the restaurant, but that the talks fell through because of the poor financial position of the Royal Mile.

Other than that, there are some nice tributes and memories from people who have visited the Royal Mile over the years.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

RM owner looking for partners?

Well, I was going to break my streak of Royal Mile postings by writing about a great dinner I had at Ren's Ramen on Friday night, but Good Eatin in Wheaton just posted a review of his recent visit there and kinda stole my thunder.  That will teach me to procrastinate on posting restaurant reviews!  With the cold weather we've been having, I think we're all in a "soupy" kind of a mood.

The Gazette reporter who covers Wheaton got in touch with me over the weekend about a story he's working on about the Royal Mile.  I'll post a link to that article once it's online.  The comments to Wheaton Patch's article about the Royal Mile have been dominated lately by someone named Charles Garris.  Garris makes several mentions in an "unofficial" capacity that the owner Mike Moore may be in the market for some financial partners.  He throws out the sum of $100k to buy in as a partner or $1.25 million to purchase outright.  He also mentions that the cost of purchasing the restaurant plus the land have ended up being more than the revenue the restaurant is bringing in, resulting in a negative cash flow.  I find it odd that a friend of the owner is posting this kind of information online, but hopefully he has Moore's blessing to be doing this.

So, if any of you have a spare $100k laying around, you could be the proud partial owner of a restaurant that is spending more money than it's making!  Seriously, though, I'm pulling for something to get worked out here to reopen the restaurant.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Update from Royal Mile Owner

My significant other (often referred to on my blog as Mr. WC) walked by the Royal Mile late this afternoon and happened to see some people inside the building, even though the lights were off.  Being the intrepid investigator that he is, he knocked on the door until someone came over.  It was the owner, Michael Moore, who appeared to be in the process of meeting with a contractor.

According to him, the Royal Mile WILL BE reopening, but that a number of serious issues with the building itself are requiring its temporary closure.  He mentioned electrical issues being one of the main problems.  Mr. Moore did not know when the needed repairs will be completed, so he didn't have an expected date for them to reopen.
Mr. WC mentioned being there on Sunday when all the employees seemed to think the restaurant was going out of business, but Mr. Moore didn't volunteer any additional information to explain this.
Michael Moore also addressed the issue of their website apparently going down.  He said that they changed their web address to ".net" rather than ".com".  He asked that we share the current website with everyone, and said that he would be posting updates there once he has a better idea of when the repairs will be completed.
While I'm encouraged to hear that he is proceeding with the plans of making repairs and reopening, I can't help but feel for the employees who are without work and pay.  While it sounds like the Royal Mile will be reopening, there's certainly no guarantee that the familiar faces we associate with it will be there when that happens.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Royal Mile Update

***Wednesday update:  As of last night, it looks like the sign about repairs has been removed and there was no sign of activity inside the restaurant.  One other thing...While I'm happy to provide a venue on this blog for people to post their thoughts and feelings about the Royal Mile, I don't want the comments to degrade into personal insults against the owner.  I've been on the verge of deleting a comment or two that I think cross the line, so let's tone down the personal insults a little bit.  Keep it classy, Wheaton!

***Tuesday update:  A short article on Patch notes that an email from the owner says that they are in a "restructuring phase".  Other than quoting another local resident who was also told of their closing on Sunday, there are no new updates.  An anonymous commenter to my earlier post alleges serious payroll/money problems at the restaurant and appears to place the blame squarely on the owner.  I'd be happy to talk with any employees who want to tell their side of things.  As other commenters have noted, there are probably a number of people willing and able to help keep the place open, but if the place has been consistently losing money for a long period of time, there may not be much any of us can do other than support the restaurant as patrons if it does reopen.

A sign posted in the window of Royal Mile says that is closed today and tomorrow for repairs.  Hopefully this means that the owner is trying to work out whatever issues are going on.  Still, things sounded pretty final last night when I was there, so we'll have to wait and see if they reopen on Wednesday.  Fingers crossed!

A Sad Loss for Wheaton's Dining Scene

For all of the love I give to the wide variety of restaurants here in Wheaton, the Royal Mile Pub has been the one I go to the most often.  Almost every weekend, Mr. WC and I have gone there to enjoy the food, the beer, and most importantly, the people and the atmosphere.  While it was never a good place to eat if you were in a hurry, the relaxed vibe and slower pace of the Royal Mile was often exactly what I needed on a Friday night after a hectic work week.  There was always a wide variety of people dining there - older couples who had been going there since it opened, families with kids, and friends out for beers.  I always felt like part of a community when I was there.  While I didn't go there quite often enough to be a "regular", the service was always friendly, with the waiters all becoming familiar faces to me after several years of heading there every weekend.

As I posted last night, it all appears to be coming to an end.  From what I was told by the waiters, either last night or some day early this week will most likely be the Royal Mile's last day in business.  While one waiter expressed hope that some other arrangement would come through to keep them open, it didn't sound good.  No one I spoke with had a great explanation behind the closing, but financial issues seem a likely cause.  Last night, the atmosphere was a mixture of celebration and sadness.  I saw one waitress shedding a few tears after getting hugged by a regular.  All the employees seemed to be in a state of shock that the Royal Mile was actually closing after all these years.  The gentleman who occassionally shows up there with bagpipes was outside playing for most of the evening, giving the pub a fitting Scottish farewell.

After 30 years of business in Wheaton, it's hard to believe the Royal Mile will be closing. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stop by Royal Mile tonite...could be your last chance

I'm sitting at the Royal Mile posting from my iPhone to let you know that tonite may be your last to enjoy their scotch, beer, and burgers. I'm hearing from the waitstaff that this could be their last day in business. The menu has been whittled down to a hand-written list but they still have burgers, beer, scotch and half price wine tonite. I'll still be here a while drowning my sorrows so come on down...