A few weeks ago, when Chef Todd Villani told me he’d be shuttering down his restaurant, Terre à Terre, when his lease was up, I was truly saddened. When I received the written notice earlier about the impeding June 26th closing, it seemed impossible to think that all the hard work Chef Villani and his marketing/PR/event planner/cheerleader sister Lisa put into the Carlstadt restaurant was all for naught.
Folks not around the restaurant business truly have no concept of what these entrepreneurs take on when they open independent dining establishments. In New Jersey, what makes things even more difficult is the challenge and costs associated with acquiring a liquor license. Without the aforementioned license, the margins these restaurants operate on are incredibly low.
Another challenge Chef Villani faced, and a problem facing many other BYOs and independent restaurants in the area, was the chronic lack of consideration from diners who secure multiple reservations on busy evening and decide at 4PM which to actually honor. No-shows and last minute cancellations plague the restaurant business and New Jersey appears to be worse than other states based on the constant feedback from local chefs and restaurant managers. I truly don’t believe diners know how much a no-show for a table of six on a Saturday at a restaurant seating 50 can cripple small business owners – CANCEL YOUR DAMNED RESERVATIONS, AND NOT AT 5PM THE DAY OF!!!
From Chef Villani “Terre a Terre has given me gratifying achievements beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve made lifelong friends and colleagues. I’ve employed incredible, passionate people who joined me in redefining the dining experience. My family has been incredibly supportive. And as for my customers, what can I say? You’ve made it all worth it. We are grateful to everyone who has supported us and we hope to see you one last time. Reservations are greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your support”.
It’s a sad day in the New Jersey food scene and I know Chef Villani and his expecting wife Beth will find another rewarding path, whatever they opt to do next. I was glad to be a guest and a friend through your three-year journey.
Farewell to Terre à Terre.