Phil And Anne's Good Time Lounge: Why Anne Burrell's Restaurant Closed

While there was a lot of excitement when Anne Burrell opened Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge, it didn't survive even a year before it closed. Being celebrity-owned doesn't guarantee that a restaurant will be a success, and many celebrity chef restaurants have failed. However, Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge seemed doomed almost from the beginning from the location to ownership spats and the menu.

It was May 2017 when Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge opened in Brooklyn, New York. Customers walked into a restaurant with lots of bright colors and themes that were as flamboyant as Burrell's personality, clothing, and swoopy signature hair. When Brooklyn Magazine interviewed Burrell about the restaurant, she called it a "comfortable, casual, whimsical setting." However, the overall experience was a big letdown. Lots of people who were initially excited to give it a try didn't make plans to return after a first disappointing visit.

There wasn't just one reason that Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge didn't even last a year, closing in March 2018. However, all the reasons it wasn't doing well added up to failure. If you're one of those people who have wondered what happened to the restaurant, we have all the details, drawing on interviews with the former owners and their representatives as well as customers who didn't have great experiences. It seemed like a doomed restaurant from the beginning, and we have a long list of why.

The co-owners had too many conflicts from day one

Anne Burrell and Phil Casaceli had been friends for years before they opened their restaurant, but it wasn't a match made in heaven when it came to working together. Even best friends don't always find that they work well together in a business setting. The conflicts grew to be so bad so quickly that they resorted to speaking to each other only through their attorneys even while the doors were still open.

There seemed to be a difference between expectations and reality when it came to these two. They assumed they were on the same page about opening the business, but they seemed to have different ideas about their roles and how well they would get along as business partners.

Arguments over little things turned into a roiling fire. They disagreed on the business hours. One argument was about the music the restaurant should play. We can understand why after finding reviews talking about how overwhelmingly loud it was when the restaurant blasted '90s boy bands. Another argument occurred when Casaceli had some out-of-town family members come in to try the restaurant and they couldn't agree which menu the family members could use. Compromise didn't seem to be a viable option for these two.

Anne Burrell is notoriously difficult to work with

Anne Burrell can be quite opinionated and isn't that easy to handle in person. If her reaction to team members on television and her past work behavior is any indication, working with her couldn't have been a walk in the park.

If you've ever watched one of her TV shows like "Worst Cooks in America," you've probably noticed that Burrell easily gets upset and can be mean when people don't get things right. A Redditor said that they thought she was worse to people on "Beat Bobby Flay" than Gordon Ramsey tends to be in his show. They said, "She attacks innocent competitors while they're cooking," whereas Ramsay is only harsh when "they have it coming." With that type of personality, imagine how difficult she'd be to work with in person.

In 2009, 40-year-old Burrell was sued for how she talked to and about co-workers in a restaurant where she worked. According to Eater NY, she regularly called female co-workers sexist slurs and had negative things to say about a co-worker's cleavage. She was constantly harassing them about whether they'd slept together and accused them of being tired because it.

The menu items were unoriginal and mismatched

The menu was supposed to mainly be Mediterranean and Italian, but it was really a melting pot of cuisines and concepts. Burrell told Brooklyn Magazine that the food was "basically the food I want to eat, my favorite dishes, the things that when I go out, I wish I could have."

So, what would Burrell want to eat when she goes out? The menu contained a mixture of everything from Italian and Korean to American foods. It included low-brow fare like pigs in a blanket and fried pickles coated in Cheetos, as well as higher-end options like Dry Rubbed Ribeye. The Meatballs came with a side of dill pickles. While the egg sandwich seemed kinda fancy with chipotle aioli, it also came with American cheese. There was also a Carbonara Fritatta, which included spaghetti as an ingredient.

Customers who were looking for something original mainly found food they could get anywhere without any real standout menu items. A restaurant needs an item that pulls people in again and again, but customers didn't find such an item. Burrell didn't even have Bolognese on the menu, which is her most popular recipe.

The food and drinks weren't that great

When people go to a celebrity-run restaurant, they have fairly high expectations. So, customers were especially disappointed to go to Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge and find only mediocre food. One disgruntled customer even said Applebee's makes better food, which is a pretty low cut.

There were lots of food complaints. The food was often over-salted, with some customers finding their food too salty to even eat. Customers complained about everything from overcooked steak to dry fish. While some menu items were good, it seemed to be hit or miss overall with most items eliciting a mere "meh." For example, customers complained about a salad that came with chicken that didn't have any seasoning. Another salad was smaller than expected and just came with some beans, cheese, and a few veggies but no greens. Customers weren't all that thrilled with the cocktails either. We found a review complaining about a cocktail that tasted like cologne and another saying that the restaurant even ruined a standard vodka and cranberry drink.

The prices were high for what customers received

Based on the price customers paid to eat at Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge, they were disappointed in what they got, both in quality and quantity. One Google reviewer said, "The food was very casual bistro, gastropub fare and some the prices were in the 30's which in this neighborhood implies fine dining which it was not." One customer who spent nearly $100 said they had to go to a deli afterward because they were still hungry.

Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge didn't call its dishes small plates, but the idea was that you were supposed to share around the table. Burrell told Brooklyn Magazine, "We wanted to create a sort of grazing culture." She said, "It's how I like to eat when I go out with my friends. I always go heavy with the appetizers and we have one or two entrees." However, when customers ended up paying a full-sized price for an appetizer-sized portion, they weren't too happy about it.

Customers weren't thrilled to spend $10 for five crackers, cheese, and pickles or $10 for seven pickle chips. Another disappointment was Grilled Korean Style Short Ribs for $19, which cost about $2 per bite. From the Heavy menu, you could get what customers described as a tiny, rubbery braised chicken leg for $22 with more almond purée and mushrooms than chicken. Considering that these were pre-2020 prices and the portions were small, customers weren't happy.

The service often left a lot to be desired

Even though the restaurant had a fun atmosphere similar to a sports bar, the service wasn't always on point. While some people felt like the wait staff was friendly and they had a good experience, others did not. The kitchen clearly didn't have everything together. Even when the restaurant just had a few guests, customers sometimes experienced ridiculously long wait times. There were complaints of the cooks leaving appetizers undercooked and not even offering to fix them. Even months after the restaurant opened, customers were under the impression that the people working there must be new and not know what they were doing. One Google reviewer called the service "painfully awkward." Paired with a lack of good food, they said, "I can't imagine coming back."

A Yelp reviewer said, "The owner, an eccentric looking woman with cockatoo hair seemed to be drunk or somewhat high on something, she kept banging loudly on the counter by the kitchen." The customer was also annoyed that people who had wandered in wanting selfies with the "cockatoo lady" took priority over the servers taking their payment so they could leave.

It was never very busy

Both customers and people in the neighborhood noticed that the restaurant never had a lot of people eating there. Customers who had bad experiences the first time around or decided they could make the same food at home just never came back.

Even though representatives for Anne Burrell were adamant that the restaurant stayed busy, Phil Casaceli told Eater New York that such claims were absolutely not true. Casaceli said Burrell would sometimes saunter outside and sweep the sidewalk on a slow day at mealtime. She'd say "This will bring people in," assuming that people would come in based on recognizing her as a celebrity. He said that the wrong type of people walked by and weren't enticed by her celebrity status. However, representatives for Burrell didn't agree with this portrayal of how things went down.

Customers often walked in to find the restaurant empty. Customers reported that, even on a Friday night, there might only be six people inside dining. One Yelp customer who ultimately endured unsavory service and had a bad food experience came in at 7:30 p.m. to an empty restaurant and said, "Perhaps we should have taken it as a sign."

Restaurants often don't survive in that location

Smith Street on Cobble Hill wasn't really hopping when Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge moved in. For years now, new restaurants have come and gone in that area after failing to get enough customers to stay open. Surely, a celebrity-owned restaurant could help bring new life to the neighborhood. Right? Unfortunately, even a celebrity restaurant succumbed to the "curse" in what used to be Restaurant Row.

The address at 196 Smith St., Brooklyn, New York, where Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge was located has been many, many restaurants in less than a decade. It was Char No. 4 from 2008 to 2015. After Char No. 4 closed down, nothing seemed to stick around for long. Phil & Anne's was only open in 2017 and 2018. After Phil & Anne's closed down, the restaurant turned into a Japanese and Korean ramen, bibimbap, and tapas restaurant called Ichiba Kitchen. Unfortunately, it permanently closed in August 2019 after only being open for a handful of months. Then, it cycled through multiple names on the door, including Woori and Ichiba again before becoming Gatsu Gatsu from 2020 to 2021.

A dim sum restaurant called Dimmer & Summer took over the location in 2022 and is still open as of February 2024. Hopefully, the restaurant and its novelty robot cat food server, Bella, will have a better run than the other restaurants in this restaurant graveyard.

The co-owners' friendship dissolved completely

Some long-term relationships don't survive a business venture, which is the case of Anne Burrell and Phil Casaceli. Burrell first met Casaceli at her favorite local bar in the West Village called Daddy-O, which Casaceli owned. In fact, it was Casaceli who suggested starting the restaurant when the property became available. The idea they had for the restaurant was that Casaceli would be in charge of the alcohol part of the restaurant, and Burrell would handle the food. While the idea sounded good in theory, it wasn't the reality.

After Casaceli got all the paperwork and permits together to get the business off the ground, he told Daily News that Burrell didn't seem to have any need for him anymore. He said, "She used me in a way, I think." Casaceli said Burrell didn't seem interested in any of his suggestions to improve the restaurant, telling him that people would come because she was a celebrity.

The final straw for Casaceli was when he had 12 family members visiting from out of town and Burrell wanted them to order from a limited menu rather than the regular menu. When a restaurant can't handle 12 customers at a time, it has a problem. When those visitors are the co-owner's family members, it's even more of a problem. After spending less than a year together owning a restaurant, they found that they couldn't work together, and their 12-year friendship completely dissolved.

It closed without warning

There was no warning to customers or everyone involved in the restaurant when Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge closed. In late March 2018, the windows at Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge went unexpectedly dark. When Anne Burrell shuttered the restaurant, she did so without Phil Casaceli's knowledge. So, he was as surprised as everyone else to find that it wasn't open anymore. However, the writing had been on the wall for a while.

People who wandered in from the street or who had reservations arrived to find the restaurant closed. The door had tons of UPS notices for packages but no other indication of whether it was closed permanently. The strange thing was that the restaurant was still making social media posts as if everything was fine. It even advertised happy hour specials, trying to lure people in for snacks and drinks. However, customers were confused when they went to check it out and the restaurant looked like it was closed for several days. The wannabe customers and reservation holders replied to the mysterious social media posts to ask what was happening or when they could expect to find the restaurant open again. Not surprisingly, nobody from the restaurant ever bothered to answer their questions.

The owners even argued about closing the restaurant

The feud between the ex-friends continued with talks of dissolving their partnership and possibly closing the restaurant. There was a lot of "he said, she said" with both claiming they couldn't get the other to have a proper conversation about the future of the restaurant after it started to tank.

The two owners had previously talked about dissolving their partnership because of their inability to agree with each other. When they first floated the idea of Anne Burrell buying out Phil Casaceli's part of the business, Burrell started offering ridiculously low amounts to buy him out, and the conversation went nowhere. Casaceli showed Eater New York a screenshot of a text message from Burrell to Casaceli concerning what would happen if the restaurant closed permanently. It said, "I will be fine. You will still always be the miserable f*** that you are."

A week after the restaurant closed in March 2018 without warning, representatives for Burrell told The New York Post that the restaurant wasn't officially closed, but that the differing business opinions between Burrell and Casaceli, "made running a restaurant together impossible. Phil and his representative have been unwilling to meet thus far to try to reconcile the situation." Casaceli was quick to tell The New York Post, "That's an all-out lie. I sent her a letter the Monday after Thanksgiving. I've called her, texted her and e-mailed her and she has claimed that she didn't receive them."