The Curse of 1809 West 1st Continues As “MonBella” Closes


Monbella Bistoria at 1809 West 1st Ave, home to a number of restaurants in the past (most recently Industry, Vintropolis), has closed. Word is the investors abruptly pulled the plug on the casual Italian-French hybrid and fired everyone yesterday. I’ve heard the downhill acceleration began in earnest after the fratricide this past Spring (they canned Brad Roark, the original heart and soul managing partner), so while I wouldn’t wish a pink slip on anyone – ever – I can’t say that I’m the least bit surprised. Monbella, though promising in the beginning, ended up with the PR reach of a dead lemur (Facebook isn’t enough), and after what happened to Brad, their reputation suffered a horrible reek within the industry, one that would brook no febreeze.

For those keeping score at home, this is the third restaurant that has closed on chef Brian Fowke’s executive watch in three years (first Rare, then Metro, and now Monbella). I think that officially constitutes a slump. Here’s hoping that everyone lands on their feet, and that the fourth time is a charm. Ciao, bello.

All Anticipated Openings



There are 6 comments

  1. I went there once because of the Tapastree connection. I don’t know how the food was because everything was wicked salty. Never had an experience like that before. Like the food was seasoned by Grandpa. Good luck to Brad. He’s a good guy and a great host.

  2. Well this was an interesting read. And on behalf of Derek Leuw, Mike Edwards, Brian Fowke I have to say something about this childish-bitter remark from the above person.

    First off how can someone even write dribble like that and not leave their name? What type of coward are you?

    Secondly, there is more to the story than what this person is stating. And a lot of misconception to what truly happened. I joined the Mon Bella service team last year in October. I was there until last Thursday, days before the place closed.

    The location itself is a tough sell. Only for the reason that no one really goes up that way for anything. This means the locals. And a place like that has to rely on the locals to create a sustainability.

    In the time I was there I saw a poorly operated establishment, however stuck around because times were tough and it wasn’t easy finding work in the restaurant industry. Still isn’t. In my time there I had seen it go through a number of staff and no wonder, the way that people were treated and talked, it made sense. There was no foundation set up, no proper training program, no structure. And if you don’t have structure you don’t have success. There are many elements to a successful restaurant, the main one being the staff. Including the dishwasher in the back. Who wants to eat of a dirty plate!

    Restaurants are not an easy business. It takes more to be a success then opening the doors. And I bet if you asked Brad now he would say that “It’s harder than I thought.” Now being there and seeing as much as I did, Brad did many things right, but many things wrong. To set the record straight they didn’t fire him for any other reason then he wasn’t doing what he said he would. How many people out there know that Mike Edwards, one of the main investors/owners and Brad are old friends.

    What I saw, was Brad work long hours, make promises he didn’t keep, but most of all I saw Brad exhaust himself and turn into someone stewing in frustration with no idea how to get out of the mess. This was the main reason for his departure.

    Luckily Mon Bella had something going for it. Great food…and being biased, Great Service. Thank you Laura! What Brad did leave behind was a great room, which he did all himself with, with a small crew. And as for Chef Brian Fowke, being hinted as the reason for the closure, it’s not true at all. The place was set up to fail from the beginning and Brian did his best to pick up the peaces and make something of it. Now, I am not being biased here. I am stating the truth, he wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a wicked Chef.

    To those who don’t know the business of Restaurants but they aren’t successful just because of the food, they are successful because of the marketing, the Kitchen team, the floor staff, but most of all because it is a desirable place to eat. I believed that Mon Bella had three of the four, the marketing being the downfall to it’s closure. We all knew it, all of us at Mon Bella who worked there in the last days. It was something Brian and Derek talked to us often about, the question was, “is it worth spending the money on?”, some would say in these economic times it would be a risk. Would have rather it stayed open, whether I was there or not.

    So when you read the article above take it with a grain of salt. There is little to no truth, except for Brad being let go and that Brian ran three restaurants that are no longer around. And for all we know Brad could have written this article.

    Sad but possible.

    Signing off, Goodnight Mon Bella…I’ll always have the movie.

    Bryce McLaughlin

  3. Sounds nice, but really I was told to my face by the chef that the $300 Mon Bella still owesme will be paid to me in full. Talk is cheap and he has not returned my calls. So what gives? I am an independent small business and cannot afford being ripped off considering my low profit margin. Very disappointing.