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August 03, 2011

Clay Oven on back burner as owner looks at options

Here's the follow-up to my tweet on Monday about a Rochester eatery closing its doors.


A northwest Rochester restaurant closed its doors Monday as its owner considers its future.

The Clay Oven, which served Chinese, Indian and Hakka ethnic dishes, put out the closed sign at 2711 Commerce Drive N.W., off of West Circle Drive.

03292010clayovenjk Does that mean Clay Oven is gone for good?

Not necessarily, says owner Ken Dewan.

Dewan opened the ethnic eatery in April 2010. While the restaurant has found a core of fans, it just hasn't attracted the numbers of customers that he would like to see.

With the project at a crossroads, Dewan made the call to close it while he maps out his next move.

He says he basically has three options.

The Clay Oven could re-open with a different menu and possibly others changes.
In place of Clay Oven, Dewan could launch a different restaurant concept in the space, which is already set up with a kitchen and dining room.

A third choice would be to work with someone else who wants to open their own restaurant. Dewan says he is open to talking to people about that possibility.

While he ponders what to do, expect Clay Oven to remain closed at least this week and possibly next.

Dewan believes there has been confusion about the restaurant's name. Clay Oven is a reference to the traditional method of cooking used throughout southeastern Asia.

But that's not well known here, says Dewan. "Many people think it is pottery store or a pizza place."


This is not surprising! Called this months ago when they started selling hamburgers...

I drive by there every day and never was busy that i could see-hardly any cars? i dont think people knew what it was?

Well that was the first mistake, you can't have a name like that and expect people to know what your business is all about.

Secondly, customer service was not so great after they opened and the food portions were very small and overpriced.

I hope the owners learn a lesson from this and are able to succeed.

As a business owner, you can't expect to pull of big profits right off the bat. You need to establish your business with an identity, good product, and most importantly, good customer service. If you can follow those three principals, than the dollars should start flowing in.

The new Newt's is a good example...identity (beer and burgers), great product (best burgers in town, IMO) and always great customer service.

Although I love Newt's I wasn't real impressed when we stopped in there a couple of Sundays ago. We went in about 6:50 and the only place to sit was the bar or wait 20 minutes. We sat at the bar and noted two other couples had done the same. We waited about 10 minutes and no one even acknowledged us. The other two couples did get a menu during that time. About 5 minutes later a bar tender did take an order from one couple and brought the drinks to the other. Still no acknowledgement. Waited another 5 minutes and after 20 minutes we left and went to Papa Murphy's and got a pizza to go. This is the second time we have tried to get into the new Newt's. Last time we went to the breakroom and had a great burger and a beer for $7.95. I think that Newt's although great burgers and beer should do a better staffing job.

Oh, and did I mention that we did watch a staff members washing the windows on the front door while we were waiting?

This isn't surprising at all. I really wanted to like the place, but their portions were small and overpriced. They also refused to honour a gift certificate the last time I was there. Hopefully someone learns from this debacle.

A few of the bar tenders at Newt's North, especially during happy hour time, seem to have no concept of urgency or customer service. Must be there due to seniority or something... But they have been getting much better. I have never thought getting a seat at Newt's was a problem but I never expected to get a table in under 20 minutes either. You do realize you went to one of the newest restaurants & bars in Rochester right? I've had to wait more than 20 minutes at Applebees at that time of day!

I agree on waiting for a table. Sometimes you can wait a lot longer then 20 minutes and I appreciate knowing that so I can decide if I want to wait. That was why we went to the bar as opposed to waiting for a table, as the hostess told us. But not to at least take a drink order in 20 minutes seems to be a lack of staffing at the bar.

Only went there once and only once, The very first day of its opening its doors, Patiently waited 40 mins and found that they lost my order ! I agree that employees were new but i don't agree that they could keep me waiting for 40 mins in front of their eyes on a table close to the front desk and forget me until I went back inquiring my order. Its very difficult to maintain business with such customer service in Rochester especially.

The owner and cook were very nice. I wouldn't say the portions were small. To have a freshly cooked meal with lots of veggies - i wouldn't say it was overpriced, either. The name was an issue, I agree. And the location was not great, in my opinion. Nothing is surviving over there.

The one thing that did it in was very poor service. Yes, overpriced and small portions...

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