The Odyssey of Odyssey continues…

I heard from a very upset Rudy Mihal this morning who wanted to set the record straight on what was recently printed in the Chronicle. Here’s what he told me:

“The Chronicle switched my words around and tried to make this story juicier than it was. I’m definitely not trying to burn any bridges here. We have had good, strong local support of clientele over the years. I was frustrated with a lot of the negative comments (in BiteClub). And I’m sorry if I offended anyone.

Mihal told me that it was a real challenge trying to run a restaurant by himself, but that it was a learning opportunity he really wanted — from running the kitchen to doing the books. He wanted locals to know that he’s still figuring out what he’s going to be doing in the coming months, after a few weeks in New York and a trip to Europe. But Sonoma County is still his home. “I really enjoy living in Sonoma County and hope I can have another opportunity to better embrace the locals.”


EARLIER: Rudy Mihal isn’t leaving Windsor without a few last words in Wednesday’s San Francisco Chronicle

Change of scene: Between the wrecked economy and the weak reception he’s received in his Windsor location, Odyssey (426 Emily Rose Circle) chef-owner Rudy Mihal says he’s “taking the hint” and closing up shop the second weekend of July, with plans to relocate to the “big city.”

“They didn’t like me much here,” he says of his 2-year-old tiny, but ambitious, French-Italian restaurant. “To these people, fine dining is Applebee’s.”

Now, I’ve long been a supporter of Rudy, because he’s a talented guy (if not always the most tactful). A lot of us were really excited about having him in Wine Country, though obviously not all of us. There were some very heartfelt comments in a previous post about his closure, as well as some downright nasty ones.

But regardless of the vitriol, the bottom line is that the whole thing just doesn’t look good for any of us in Wine Country — and that’s too bad. This region desperately needs young, talented innovators who aren’t afraid of taking risks, and they often don’t get a warm reception. At the same time, diners do want a little love from the kitchen, consistency and food they can identify with. Goodwill to the locals goes a long way. 

Maybe Windsor wasn’t ready for Odyssey. Maybe Odyssey wasn’t ready for Windsor. But in the end we’re all losing something. And that sucks.

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23 thoughts on “The Odyssey of Odyssey continues…

  1. OMG…You would think that he would want to leave Windsor with an up beat. But shoot, we tried to get some pizza for take out bc #1) We love his pizza’s #2) We wanted to give him some business before he throws in the towel…We were treated horribly. They had a total of 5 people sitting at the bar and we were treated they had no time of the day for us. I don’t care how good his pizza is…I would rather take my business somewhere other than there. That’s too bad…and that is also why he has to shut his doors.

  2. “whereever rudy lands, me, my family and every guest i have ever taken there will follow him, whereever that might be.”
    Let’s hope it’s somewhere far away.

  3. I am really sad to hear about the closing of Odyssey. I think that Rudy is a very talented chef. His food is always fresh and delightful. You will be truly missed. Please keep in touch. I know that you are going to have a great future no matter what.

  4. Wow. I had been to Odyssey on a number of occasions since they opened and was surprised and delighted every time. Rudy was a true personality. Not only in his demeanor, but his understanding of food. When people comment about “why is he closed, then?” they are setting up a false dichotomy. Success isn’t guaranteed just because you’re good…or even great. It takes an audience who understands. Unfortunately, he didn’t find that audience in Windsor. He seems fairly young, and my bet is he will surely return at some point with fare just as amazing as i’ve witnesses at Odyssey. I’d like to join others in complimenting not only Rudy, but Fabiano and other members of the staff. A job well done.

  5. What “innovation” did Rudy bring to Sonoma County’s culinary scene that wasn’t already here before? On my few visits to Odyssey I thought the food was okay but not up to par with most of the destination restaurants in our area. Forgive my ignorance, but what was Odyssey known for? The fois gras stuffed burger he learned to make in New York? Where is the innovation in that? I would much rather dine at Mirpoix down the road or Farmhouse, Scopa, Santi, Syrah, Cyrus, Dry Creek Kitchen, etc. In a very crowded restaurant landscape you have to stand out to survive and IMHO Odyssey fell short.

  6. let’s have some fun with some random obsrvations from the village idiots convention above. appleby’s is open because nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the american public, including windsor. rudy’s restaurant doesn’t belong in the same sentence with “what’s goin’ on in the neighborhood”. he’s a picasso, only his pallette’s a grill. he’s not some hack deep-frying frozen food. i wonder how burger snob got that name? which is it, snob, mcdonald’s, burger king, or did wendy’s nudge to the summit with that clever square burger? ever try the burger/fries @ odyssey? i think not. the pride that local yokel takes in his self-proclaimed moniker is obvious to even the casual observer. “we don’t like nothing’ different, and never will”. need one comment more? rudy’s is a grown up restaurant for people who want to learn about great food, or who have been lucky enough to have eaten great food in the past, and aren’t frightened by thoughtful and challenging pairings. there’s no arrogance in preparing the the most innovative dishes north of the gate with the best fresh,local ingredients. we luckily stumbled onto this bistro early on and were thrilled and surprised by the quality of food, energy, humor and unabashed immersion in all things cuisine. the restaurant is loud, opinionated and brash, just like the great american restaurants and chefs in the open kitchens of san francisco and new york. the joy,charm and knowledge that rudy and fabbiano display, and the care taken with entrees and customers alike, will be sorely missed. and by the way, i prefer my chef dueling about food with clients in the middle of the dining room rather than signing autographs. this isn’t a spectator sport, like tennis or golf, where food’s on viewing from 6 to 10. you must participate with this menu. this is football, where you must be involved. whereever rudy lands, me, my family and every guest i have ever taken there will follow him, whereever that might be. our loss…the culinary grass will not be as green, nor the restaurant sky as blue in sonoma county without odyssey.

  7. Food as thoughtful and inspiring as what Rudy Mihal has been creating at Odyssey the past couple of years comes along rarely. If people would have supported what he has provided the north bay culinary scene, we would all be the better for it. It is a shame that a chef of his caliber will no longer be available. Great THANKS and RESPECT to Rudy, Fabiano and the rest of the staff that have made Odyssey such an amazing place to have in our community.

  8. Applebee’s is still open because we are a culture of followers who praise mediocrity.
    What Rudy and Fabiano opened in Windsor is thoughtful, healthful, timely, and what they would have opened anywhere else. That Rudy is closing Odyssey is a testament to the lip service we pay to supporting local business but to which we give no follow through.

  9. My family had a fabulous time going to Odyssey. The food was excellent. The staff was fabulous, and Rudy was a suburb chef/owner/host. We had my cousin’s 35th b-day party there and he made the most excellent food for her. His mom even made a b-day cake for her. Rudy The Ramirez family will trully miss you and your staff and your great food. Thanks for great memories at Odyssey.

  10. The real truth of the matter is, the food was decent enough to warrent return visits. It wasn’t near worth the price, but it was good. The attitude, however, ensured that I would never return to this restaurant. To hear him actually argue with customers about the food in the middle fo the dining room is unthinkable.
    Had a less than pleasant experience my first trip, waited a few weeks and tried again. Equally unpleasant. I’ve eaten in plenty of great local places but this place wasn’t up to snuff. The whole fine dining experiece wasn’t there, and to hear this guys comments makes me wonder if anything he attaches his name to isn’t going to suffer the same fate.
    Make good food at decent prices and keep your mouth shut, both in the restaurant and in the paper. Then maybe you’ll have a chance.
    Good riddance.

  11. Good food, but never forget who you work for, maybe applebees is not good, but it does make money, which is afterall what windsor is best for, chains and cookie cutter houses. What do you think would make it in Windsor??? But the attitude is not necessary, especially in small town America, where we have nothing better to do than talk about unnecessary restaurants in the armpit of Sonoma County. Go to Healdsburg if you want to be a snob about food that we would survive without….. So who really cares about some stupid restaurant??

  12. Odyssey was at or near the top of my list for a great dining experience in Sonoma County – the food, service, intimacy, friendliness, atmosphere – were superb. If journalism was only as good……

  13. Dancing as fast as he can to cover his tracks (ie the thoughtless remarks he made that are insulting to a whole community), methinks Mihal accomplishes too little, too late.

  14. So its our fault that you did not know the local market.Windsor is a family town that want family style restaurants. We must really question your business sense by opening in that location.Next time you may want to know your market and not try to change the one that is already there.

  15. Nobody cares about your future plans. You’ve shown your true colors. Go away and don’t come back. If you do, you’ve lost a lot of business with your big mouth.

  16. What a slap to compare the residences of Windsor to Applebee’s! Windsor is a family oriented town which needs to have more family style places not chains. I think its the sign of the times unfortunately to see Odyssey go, but don’t kick us on the way out.

  17. You will be MISSED !!!
    The food was some of the best in the county, last time i was there the octopus was so GOOD i had to get one more!!, the service was friendly & of a generous sprite
    Running a restaurant is hard work, & a small VERY PESONAL one like Rudy dose is that much harder, when if you do it all in the kitchen leave little time for anything else,
    We will all miss the passion & dedication !!
    josh silvers
    syrah bistro

  18. Sorry, Applebee’s? You’ve got to be kidding.
    Rudy’s comment is a statement about his talent and taste! I give the man props for calling that “food” as he sees it.

  19. If he had a better location on the town green he probably would have had more business. where he was located, no one even goes to that part of the green.

  20. Rudy is an artisan. I have enjoyed my culinary journey in his capable hands. I have also enjoyed my conversations with a chef, learned many clever tricks; I only saw him care for every piece of food he prepared.
    Odyssey has been interesting. I am glad I was able to enjoy such quality while I was alive, let alone in my own small town. I will miss its accessibility and its unique charm. Good luck, in all that you attempt.
    Unfortunately, I am not without my disappointment. As a supporter of the Odyssey, I found its demise to be one of bad timing, bad economics and too unique a culture for Windsor. TGV should help not hinder its businesses. Windsor Town Green needs more Odysseys.
    I miss you already.

  21. Bummer to see Odyssey go. I’ve had some great meals and experiences there, though I can see why it might not be the right location. I’d worry about burning of bridges if the people who are offended had tried to support the local business. Every person I met there drove in to have a meal – not once did I talk to someone who lived in the square. Not the right match, alas. We wish Rudy luck in his future endeavors.

  22. “To these people, fine dining is Applebee’s.”
    wow- talk about burning bridges. this guy is blowing up all the roads as the bridge burns. Never been to his restaurant (been to applebee’s though) and i’m kinda glad. no room for that kind of attitude in the service business.

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