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The things that made the service industry sad this year

New York

While Hurricane Sandy obviously came up plenty when we asked NYC's top chefs, barmen, and more about their biggest disappointments of 2012, answers also ranged from Bill's Gay 90's closing to a wondrous screed on the failings of culinary television

Toby Maloney, Partner at Pouring Ribbons
"The fact that the Meatball Shop on Bedford isn't open until 5am. And that Bill's Gay 90's was forced to close.

Aaron Polsky, bartender at Amor y Amargo and one half of Bartending Duo Cripple Creek
"The Michelin 1-star list. It was the critical equivalent of a blind kid picking produce with mittens on.

Hari Nathan Kalyan, Partner at The Randolph and Randolph Beer
"SriPraPhai is closed on Wednesdays. I'm assuming this is for religious reasons and I should have called or checked the website first before going all the way up there.

Paul Gerard, Executive Chef/ Owner at Exchange Alley
"Culinary TV. It's ruining this business, and in no way reflects the way my colleagues and I interact, speak, or work. Being that I don't even waste my time with The Food Network, I'd specifically say my biggest disappointments were the chef scenes on Treme. I grew up in the kitchens of New York, worked and partied with a parade of success stories in New Orleans, and I have to say that that is not real. It could've been so interesting had it been injected with the insanity and absolute dedication of the real earners of the mob that runs those kitchens. Granted, it's a different world today in NY, but New Orleans is still a transient town of not only cooks exemplary in the field, but full of modern day pirates, bards & bootleggers, wrecked off the coast of America, making their daily bread in the restaurant world. The scenes could've been as interesting as the rest of the show, but trickled off like an IV drip where shooting speed was required.

Eben Freeman, Director of Bar Operations and Innovation at Altamarea Group
"Pete Wells' Nicoletta review.

Nick Bennett, Bar Captain at Booker and Dax
"That it had taken me until 2012 to get to Milk & Honey. As the frontrunner in the NY cocktail scene it is one of the reasons most bartenders have such a wonderful stage to play on. New York remains on the tip of this American cocktail wave and a lot of it is thanks to Milk & Honey. Even though I only made it there once, I will be sad to see it leave its current location. I can understand Sasha Petraske’s reasoning for moving and I am sure that the new spot will continue pouring wonderful cocktails, but it will undoubtedly lose some of the magic.

Luis Bollo, Executive Chef at Salinas
"I’m more disappointed with the disappearance of high-quality restaurants than with the appearance of ill-conceived endeavors. [For instance], the closure of Bar Basque. It was my wife’s favorite Spanish spot for their attempt to go beyond tapas. Yet another is Isa’s change of culinary direction. As any chef has to maintain balance between art and business, I admire what Chef Ignacio Mattos did because I know how difficult that is."

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