There has been a death in the Barone Restaurant family. The much maligned Barone’s Tuscan Grill has died before reaching its 2nd birthday. Many visitors to this blog would claim the sickly child was doomed since birth, suffering from mediocre food and service that they claimed ranged from poor to non-existent.
To be absolutely honest, my two visits to this restaurant during its brief lifespan were not all that bad. It was far from one of my favorite dining spots but I still felt I had OK meals on both trips. Obviously, I was in the minority or they would still have their doors open.
More than the food or the service, the amazing thing about this Barone’s Tuscan Grill was the number of people who visited this blog and read my reviews. No other restaurant that I have reviewed in the past two and a half years has attracted anywhere near the interest that this recently departed establishment garnered. It was a constant amazement to me and prompted me to write an article on here titled The Great Barone’s Tuscan Grill Mystery. Folks would actually take the time to comment, most of them negative comments, and many filled with a great deal of emotion considering it’s just a restaurant. I approved some of them but disallowed many as I was beginning to feel they were coming from a competitor who was engaged in a campaign to defame Barone’s. It now appears that this was not the case. Quite a few of the comments mentioned the treatment of employees. Many suggested that employees were not being paid correctly or on time. Here are a couple of samples.
I was also directed here when I googled Barone’s Tuscan Grill. I agree, food is good, ambience is fine, I do like a BYOB. BUT, you should know that Barone’s has not paid their employees for over 4 weeks. They did issue a paycheck this past Wed to cover that first missed week ~ and the checks bounced. This is not the first time. In early July, all the paychecks also bounced. The owners have mislead the workers (mostly local teens & twenty-somethings) about what & when they would be paid. For example, many worked in April to help get the restaurant up & running and were never paid for those hours.
The reason for my “google” was to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau!
I work in a bank used by some of Barone’s employees. I am aware of Barone’s habit of bouncing paychecks.
May 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm eOn 12/30/10 we ordered pizza to go at 5:40 pm, from the Woolwich Twp. location. I arrived at 6 pm to pick it up, paid, and waited. And waited, as was another woman attempting to purchase food to go who was there ahead of me. There were at least a half dozen men in dress shirts, “manager-types”, unfortunately none of them have a clue as to how to run a restaurant. I saw 2 pizzas go on top of the pizza oven, but didn’t pay any attention to it since I had paid, gave my name, and assumed that they would give me my pizza when it was ready. The other woman’s take out dinners were ready and getting cold, but she was waiting for pizza also. None of the “manager-wannabes” knew what was going on. Finally, at 6:20 pm I stood up and asked one of them who those 2 pizzas on top of the oven were for. Well what do you know??? They were mine. “Manager-wannabe” that took my money ($37.00, ridiculous) never asked wannabe #2 who those pizzas were for when he took them from the guy making them and put them on top of the oven. I rolled my eyes, told him I had been sitting there waiting, grabbed my pizza and left. Dinners are over priced as well. Do yourself a favor and go to one of the dozen other Italian restaurants in the area. We have not been back since.
….and this was the last comment I received that confirmed the rumors I was hearing that this Woolwich Twp eatery was no more..
Update: The Woolwich Township location of Barone’s Tuscan Grill has closed. From talking to a former co-worker (I worked at Barone’s for over eight months), the restaurant’s been bought by Toscana. While it is sad to see a local business shut down, I am glad to see this restaurant close.
I’m not just holding a grudge because they still owe me $200 in paychecks (which I’ll obviously never receive). The restaurant was poorly managed and maintained to the point where I believe the customers’ health was put at risk. There were a few instances where the hot water shut off; I’m not sure whether this was because of a mechanical error or someone being behind in bill payments. Either way, when the hot water shut off the restaurant remained open for the night. Anyone who would keep a restaurant open without hot water does not deserve to own a restaurant. When I asked the manager how the kitchen staff was going to wash dishes without hot water, he did not provide an answer.
There is a lot more I could say about my time at Barone’s Tuscan Grill, but this is not the appropriate venue. I will probably wind up submitting an op-ed to a local newspaper detailing the experience and everything that went wrong in that restaurant. Overall, it was poorly managed and maintained, and it commonly felt like the owner did not put much effort into the restaurant to ensure it’s success. I hope that the restaurant that replaces Barone’s serves the Woolwich community much better; Woolwich deserves better for its customers and workers.”
And so we come today not to praise Barone’s Tuscan Grill, but to bury it. If it taught me one lesson it is how passionate folks can be about food. It also convinced me that the Woolwich Twp/Swedesboro, Logan Twp area is ripe for a restaurant that is capable of serving good food, and providing great service. There would seem to be no end to the number of people who would flock to such an establishment. Unfortunately, I can’t cook, so the job of providing this much-needed establishment falls to another. Whoever you are though, keep in mind, when you open your doors, I’ll be there!