Jennifer and David Uygur – the owners of Lucia (he's chef; she runs the dining room) – sat with me in their Bishop Arts District dining room for a video interview following my recent four-star review. It was an enthusiastic review, to be sure, though I dropped Lucia's star rating from five to four – which David was eager to discuss.
"By and large, it was a positive review," he said, "and so we felt pretty good about it. The star thing, obviously that was a disappointment. But it also is one of those weird things. When we were first reviewed – five and a half years ago, five years ago – and we got five stars, I was really excited, but . . . I never really thought of Lucia as something that I had the goal of having five stars for. In fact in our business plan, I think we actually said, you know, four stars. That's what we're after. That's what I think we'll get."
Here is the edited version of the video interview:
After the interview, the Uygurs sent me an email that clarified their views: "We didn't quite articulate what we were trying to say about the star system," they wrote. "We didn't feel like 5 stars then and we don't feel like 4 stars now. We appreciate your review . . . positive comments, constructive criticism and all. Admittedly, the star system feels a bit reductive. We'd love to have our guests and potential guests read your whole review and make a decision about whether they want to come try us based on the whole review . . . rather than make that decision based only on the loss or gain of a star. In any case, we're recognize that we're lucky to be able to do what we love and proud of our team."
Naturally, we'd love to have people read the whole review as well. I would hope the main takeaway would be not that the restaurant lost a star, but that it is an extraordinary restaurant, one that offers a dining experience that is often thrilling. Its enduring popularity is well deserved.
After the interview, our conversation continued, and we talked about the difference between a restaurant in which the plates and the rest of the experience is formal and perfect, and a place that feels homey, welcoming and very personal, and where the plates change constantly, as they do at Lucia. I told they that's the kind of place I really love, the kind of restaurant where you want to dine all the time. Happily, in the interview Jennifer also offers her (insider's!) tips on how to get a coveted table.
Here's the complete, uncut interview: