A Parasole Burger Jones Response

Kip Clayton, VP of Business Development for Parasole Restaurant Holdings, responds to the buzz of criticism of the newly opened Burger Jones vis-a-vis service:

“The issue we’re encountering early on is a kitchen designed for approximately 600 guests per day that is putting out burgers for 1200 guests per day,” he writes. “Combine that with a burgeoning take out business & it’s been a push.  I can guarantee you that we will figure it out & have our best Parasole service and kitchen efficiency minds on the task.   What a great problem to have!  However we’re not happy when guests are disappointed and are doing everything possible to fix the problem.”


  1. Lee

    Despite my so-so experience at Burger Jones, I’m not sure why people seem so anxious to “take it down.” Is it because Parasole is perceived as having an ego (and deep enough pockets) that can take it? Is it because expectations are sky high? Is it because we’re sick of mediocrity cloaked in marketing campaigns and beautiful signs? I dunno.

  2. James Norton

    My own two cents: Parasole is a victim of its own success in this case. Their restaurants have a reputation for efficiency, cleanly-executed concepts and a high level of professionalism… so bungled service or an incorrectly cooked burger at Burger Jones provokes — fairly or unfairly — far more wrath than a bungle at a newly opened diner-style restaurant, where it might be regarded as forgivable and forgettable. Kathie Jenkins, who slammed them essentially on Day 1, wrote: “These aren’t novices running this burger joint so they should know better. And they’re charging full price while practicing at our expense.” I think that nails the critics’ attitude on the head.

  3. Lee

    Well put, I agree. I also think Parasole is known for going big and bold, which makes them an easy target when they falter.

  4. artsy

    I don’t really see how they are going to fix it, unless they go to takeout only, or dine-in only, or rebuild the kitchen? Something about the smiling host telling me ‘2 hours’ wait for a table, while a number of tables sat empty…..doesn’t seem right.

  5. rob

    Dear Kim Clayton,

    The issue you are having is not that the service is bad, which it is, but that the food is tasteless. ADD SOME FLAVOR and all the problems will go away.

    People can deal with poor service for great food, they cant deal with poor service and crummy food. You unfortunately have both right now.

  6. Adam Platt

    Now you understand why local restaurateurs are trying to open on the QT, deny to the media that they’ve actually opened, and/or convene “soft” openings. People descend on every new restaurant as if it’s reinvented food, creating chaos. A restaurant is a tightly choreographed operational ballet. It’s not brain surgery, but it takes a lot of rehearsal, even when all the players are highly experienced. To imply that because Parasole is an experienced operator of high-volume restaurants that Burger Jones should have opened seamlessly is naive.

    This is not a subjective point or a subject where reasonable people can disagree. Yes, they are practicing at our expense. So was Chambers Kitchen. So was D’Amico Cucina. They all are. There is no alternative. To spend 90 days training with practice meals would bankrupt most small operators and no banker or investor would finance a restaurant that said they intended to do so. If the choice is between burning through $250K running a practice restaurant for 90 days or irritating Kathie Jenkins, trust me, they’ll risk Kathie’s notorious first-day diatribes.

    The people who are into buying the newest high-tech toys, audiophile gizmos, new software releases, etc., understand what they’re getting will have glitches. They know that’s the price they pay for being first in. If you love restaurants so much that you can’t resist going there the first week, dive-in. But whining when you’re then disappointed just paints you as a food rube.

  7. Bill Roehl

    The people who are into buying the newest high-tech toys, audiophile gizmos, new software releases, etc., understand what they’re getting will have glitches.

    Yeah, you’re right, they do and I realize a restaurant is going to have “glitches” but that doesn’t mean that whatever I am getting isn’t going to work or will take hours to complete a simple task. Contrary to what Andrew Zimmern said, simple food is not hard to get right, especially not a burger.

    That said, while service can be shoddy on any given night throughout the time a restaurant is open, food is food and it should be done correctly from the get go. I’m sorry but I just don’t believe the whole “give them a chance to get it right” mantra when it comes to the food. If you’re going to ruin a burger by cooking it to death (no, “pink” and “not pink” are not acceptable options god damn it) and then charge too much money for it ($7 for a simple burger without sides? Ha!) then you’re just asking for trouble from the start.

    If Burger Jones continues with the “pink”, “not pink” options for their overpriced burgers then they are right in line with every other single major chain restaurant in Minnesota serving a burger that’s overcooked, boring, and way overpriced.

  8. Adam Platt

    “Simple food is not hard to get right, especially not a burger.”

    Actually, simple food is the hardest to do well, because it is the least forgiving. The fewer ingredients you use and the more familiar they are, the more people feel they can do it themselves and then they second-guess everything from your prices to the shape of your plates.

    Put three different sauces on the plate and stack and shape the food and fill it with things like smoked paprika and fennel pollen and everyone sits there with their mouth open and talks about the amazing chef and his innovations. Nobody says it’s $1.50 in ingredients and they do it better on their grill every night. You stick it in a boil-in-bag and call it sous vide and it can’t be overcooked and bloggers and foodies rhapsodize.

    You’re right about the rampant overcooking and mishandling of burgers all over town. And most of those places are packed. So what’s the lesson of all this? Search me.

  9. Jen L.

    I NEVER submit a comment for fear of scrutiny but I am thrilled. I LOVE that we are passionate about food and that this debate can even occur, during a recession, when discretionary income is tough to come by. Restaurants will never be all things to all people, some will love you and some will hate you. Some restaurants are given a chance (or two, or three) when they don’t deserve it and others are never given a break. The reality is if you seek perfection, wait 3 months. Restaurant openings are tough, so take a deep breath and wait. Let’s rejoice that new restaurants are even opening for us to talk about. Let’s congratulate those, a select few, who have invested in the community and employing hundreds. I will go to bed tonight elated that we have the opportunity to have this debate at all. Thank you Parasole!

  10. Lito

    Ye old health department has a thing or to to say about “pink” and “not pink”. Cooking to 160 kills bacteria. Cooking and holding at lower temps, also kills bacteria.

    Cook it in your back yard. If you know your supplier, eat tar tar, black and blue, whatever you please. In an average restaurant I order med rare, perhaps naively thinking that the lethality risk is moderated. How about a little shout out for citing the ethics of beef production. We buy our beef from “?”. Muffaletta used to buy a lot of clean local products without seeming to drum circle-esque.

    Jonesing for clean food.

  11. Andrew Zimmern

    Holy crap….bill, try cooking a perfect scrambled egg, its much harder than making beef stew. the fewer the ingreients, the smaller the number of recipe steps, etc the harder the execution. Mistakes can be covered up, and famously are, by a plethora of ingredients and plating pyrotechnics. there are exceptions, but trust me, simple is hard. BUT, i will disagree with one aspect of this chat that Adam raised re practice rounds…BJ is not Le Cirque. Two weeks of live fire should have been enough to teach the cooks how to sear a burger. period.

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