Case Number 23167: Small Claims Court


First Run Features // 2003 // 77 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // January 21st, 2012

The Charge

"There are 18,000 restaurants in New York City. Every year, more than 1,000 new restaurants open. 4 out of 5 new restaurants go out of business within 5 years."

The Case

In 2001, friends John McCormick and Billy Phelps, both transplanted from Minnesota, decided to take a run at beating those odds. They found a "depressing and small" space in Brooklyn for their new restaurant, Moto, and decided to transform that space into their dream dining experience. They set an opening deadline for themselves -- which they missed by months -- and got to work.

Eat This New York tells the story of Moto, but it also tells the story of a lot of other once-fledgling restaurateurs. People like Sirio Maccioni (featured in a recent documentary about his Le Cirque), Daniel Boulud, Drew Nieporent, and Rocco DiSpirito are among the food figures who share their thoughts about getting into the restaurant business.

Personally, I didn't enjoy Eat This as much as I enjoyed director Andrew Rossi's Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven. The Le Cirque documentary concentrated on one family (the Maccionis) and the changes affecting one legendary dining experience, while Eat This uses the friends starting their own restaurant as a springboard for exploring a larger theme. Thus, I didn't get as involved in the story of Moto as I did with Le Cirque.

However, I realize if you were actually starting a restaurant, the experienced restaurateurs talking in Eat This could give you some insights, especially considering that the DVD extras include lengthy interviews with the restaurant veterans featured, providing a lot of interesting thoughts that didn't make it into the relatively short 77-minute film. If your interest in the restaurant business is intense, you might still want to see more of what McCormick and Phelps went through, but there's plenty of stuff that will interest you on the DVD. The movie's rather simple, with lots of shots of restaurateurs talking, but the picture quality is good.

Simply put, it looks like Rossi had enough material for two documentaries and tried to squeeze it all into one. His Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven would be a better introduction to the pressures of the restaurant business, but Eat This could be a good follow-up for someone who's simply fascinated with the topic. If you're that foodie, the extra material makes the DVD worthwhile.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2012 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: First Run Features
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* DTS 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 77 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Extended Interviews

* IMDb