Say goodbye to borscht and blini. On New Year's Day, the city's only Russian restaurant, Café Samovar, closed its doors.
Gregory and Tsilya Sadetsky, affectionately known as Momma and Papa by regular Samovar customers, say it is time to retire.
Café Samovar operated at its Union location for 15 years. Before moving there, the Sadetskys' ran other Russian restaurants on North Main and in Germantown. In his 25 years in the Memphis restaurant business, Gregory Sadetsky learned a few things:
• "One of the first things I learned is that you have to know how to manage a restaurant. We had plenty of cooking experience [when we started], but that was not enough."
• "You have to know everything that's going on in the restaurant because many times you have to fill in for a waiter or a cook or a dishwasher. Sometimes, you have to be everything. In our 25 years of business, people would just come and go, come and go. They'd work a week or two weeks and then quit, so it's very important to know every job. If somebody doesn't show up, you have to know what to do."
• "Try to always be nice to the employees. Not like a boss, but just someone working with them."
• "You also have to be nice to the customers and ask them questions like, 'How's the food? How's the service?' Some people won't tell you their honest opinion. They'll just never come back, but some people will tell the truth."
• "The food should be consistent. We changed cooks a lot, so you need to have a special recipe so they can continue to make it the same. Our best seller was the soups, and people who came in often knew how they were supposed to taste."