The Florence was an honest and mostly successful attempt to elevate the level of food being cooked and served in Savannah. I say “mostly successful” because it obviously didn’t work financially or they would not have closed on Sunday June 25, 2017.
I have read the articles this past week by the various writers whose jobs are to opine on such things. I have read about how Savannah lacks a service culture and how Savannahians say they want good stuff but aren’t willing to pay for it. I have read about different takes on the menu and service model at The Florence and where those may have been to blame. I have also read about how delicious Kyle’s damn pizza is and how some of his pastas are truly ethereal. I experienced first-hand the Negroni tap that they introduced to this market. Frankly, they should get a separate medal just for that. And, on a personal note I must say that there are only a few dishes in Savannah that I truly crave and the Diavola pizza at The Florence was at the very top of that list. I am going to miss it tremendously (although I am hoping that Kyle is plotting something to bring it back sooner rather than later).
In all the writing that took place this week offering opinions as to why The Florence was not able to endure, the real story seemed, to me at least, to get lost. The real story is that Hugh and Kyle tried hard to change things. They put their money and their time where their mouths were and they built something that Savannah had never seen before. Then they took their considerable skills and an artist’s point of view on food and wine and they put those on display not only for all the world to see and taste but for so much of that world to critique, compliment and criticize.
As a restaurant owner and someone whose prior career was in arts and entertainment, I am very used to being criticized and critiqued – it comes with the territory when you stick your neck out there as we do in the food and pop culture businesses. You invite people to judge you and in this era of Social Media, people are very eager to accept your invitation. Kyle and Hugh are consummate professionals and they handled all of it with grace and dignity.
So rather than trying to figure out why The Florence didn’t make it, I would just like to say a giant thank you to both Hugh and Kyle for sticking your fucking necks out there, having a specific point of view on food and wine and sharing it with us for the past three years. I am grateful for knowing you both, I am certain that you will continue to do wonderful things and, alas, I am really going to miss that damn pizza. – Johno