Friday, August 22, 2008

Battle of the Cs

Last night I met K. (who commutes to the west side, bless his heart) and another pal at Father's Office in Culver City. FO -- particularly the Santa Monica branch -- is famous for its enormous selection of beers and its amazing burger. Also its crowds and its surly employees.

The CC outpost features three of the four: The beer selection is amazing; the burger was slammin'; the place was so crowded they had a rope and a line at the front door; but the employees were perfectly civil.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

No, I'm here to say this: Back Abbey is a complete Father's Office rip-off. Even the LIGHT BULBS are the same, ferchrissakes! From the menu to the beer-tap presentation to the server's shirts, everything is strikinly similar. As for the burger, they are almost identical; it's just that FO's is fresher and cleaner-tasting than BB's. Oh yeah -- it's cheaper, too.

I can't describe my disappointment. Surely Claremont (to say nothing of Pomona) deserves better than this. Is a little originality too much to ask? Does the city of trees and Ph.D.s really want to build a business model on plagiarism?


Anonymous said...

Stop your whining, be glad there is somewhere nearby to go that at least resembles (Plagiarizes) a trendy/mainstream eatery and watering hole.

K said...

Heh. We've certainly been hitting BA often enough lately. I can't tell you how happy I am to have it around.

I was amazed, though, at the similarities between BA and FO, down to the plumbing fixtures. I have to wonder if there isn't a business connection between the two.

Anduhrew said...

My mother used to own two frozen yogurt and sandwich shops in two different cities with two different names but they were exactly the same. I think there was a reason behind it but i don't remember what, it's probably the same owner.

Shhh said...

I feel like I read a post or an article somewhere about other FO copycats. Maybe it was from the chowhounders, but maybe it was Jonathan Gold. Not sure. In any case, BA isn't the first one for sure. It's only natural that so many would aspire to greatness (although I agree that originality is always appreciated).

Anonymous said...

Never been or heard of FO's, but the Back Abbey is awesome!

Pomona Joe

Anonymous said...

I think your claim of "authenticity" for FO is a bit naive. Nearly every great eatery/film/music etc. is derivitive of something that came before it.

And come on, carmelized onions and blue cheese burgers is not rocket science. It isn't a great leap from In-n-Out.

As for a large selection of beers on-tap being special...have you been to Hero's or the Yard House lately?

Back Abbey is more derivive of a typical Belgium cafe that I've eaten at in Brussels...with a California twist and larger selection of exclusively Belgium beers.

Nice pot stirring, though! :)

Anonymous said...

Father's Office is owned by a chef, and it is his kitchen...his recipes and his skills. Is there a chef who owns BA? Is there talent in the kitchen that has a resume? If there is I would love to hear about it. I have read that they "make all their own sauces and salad dressings" huh? What chef considers tartar sauce or aioli or any salad dressing a notable creation? Mixing mayo with something is not a culinary feat. How can BA justify prices that are higher than FO's? Rents in Claremont may be high but they are nowhere near what rents are in Santa Monica.

Silver said...

WOW! I have never heard some one who is trying to write an objective review whine so much.
You talk of Fathers office as if you have been there, you obvisily have not.
For you would know the front door and rear door share the same hinge, of course there is a line there, The place is half the size of the Back Abbey.
You talk about their enormous selection of beer…F.O. only has three Belgium beers on tap, where TBA has over twenty. Plus my final argument if you knew anything about F.O., you would know they do not wear black T-shirts there like TBA.

I’m sorry, I love both F.O and TBA for they both have very original things about them and so glad they have some of the same. Especially when both places are quite far from each other. I unlike you, see originality in both places. People who read this should visit both.

I am more disappointed in your totally bias rant and hope you live no where near Claremont, that’s probably why you shoot the city down.

How much did F.O pay you….

Anonymous said...


Are you one of the owners is that why Meg hit a nerve. She saw some similiarities between TBA not BA (meg did you catch that) and FO and decided to write about it. Silver if you are one of the owners, concider this free advertisement. If any of the readers have been to the FO and Meg is comparing the two to be similiar than more than likely the readers will pay a visit to TBA.


Anonymous said...

I have a comment for Silver too, read Meg's post she went to the FO in Culver City. In the real world people have real opinions and they share them on their blogs. How are you going to tell her she did not see what she saw? LOL. This is the new "virtual" reality, tell people they don't see what they are looking at and don't think what they think. Get over yourself if you don't like Meg's blog don't read it pal.

Anonymous said...

I probably would not go to either of these places but I enjoy the way Meg writes about her experiences out.
Why in the world would a person just pick a place at random and write an opinion of it. That would be a waste of time and energy.
You rock Meg! Keep on eating.

Anonymous said...

Another anonymous asks, "Why in the world would a person just pick a place at random and write an opinion of it. That would be a waste of time and energy."

The answer is easy - to get their butt unglued and away from the computer to do something different, random and spontaneous. Not to mention the added fodder it produces for the blog. Not a waste at all.
Indeed, you rock Meg!

mary said...

I don't get how running down Claremont establishments is supposed to help promote Pomona, especially in light of the fact that Pomona doesn't have anything remotely as cool as the Back Abbey, ripoff or not. Is there even a single gastropub in the entire city of Pomona? dba256 is nice, but they won't serve you a burger.

I also don't see how the similarity between the Back Abbey and Father's Office reflects in any way on Claremont's "business model". My guess is that you'd react with the same level of indignation if the city of Claremont started vetting all its businesses for originality, and that you'd be equally up in arms if they prevented someone from opening a sorely needed drinking establishment just because the light fixtures resembled the ones at another establishment 40 miles away.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I should have been more clear. Why would a persom "make up" going to a place and then review it.
I totally believe you went.

John Clifford said...

Very interesting. I don't remember anywhere on this blog that stated that reviews (or any topic content) is unbiased. Indeed, the concept of a blog (weblog for long) is that it is more of a personal, albeit, shared experience. I think what got Silver's shorts in a knot is that the piece got some traction and was picked up by several other area blogs. Yup, that happens.

I guess I've got to go out and set the dogs barking (sorry Meg, I forgot that was my job :-).

OK, I'll add a, Meg, you rock! to the others. And keep doing the reviews. I went to Forks the other day and have been trying to decide if it would be worth adding my experiences there. But then that might be considered Claremont bashing and as Mary said, that's no way to build up Pomona. Hmmmmm.

John Clifford said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I was talking with the owner of dba256 the other day and they'll be adding Panini's and some other food items to the menu. I think they'll even be getting their bread from the new Pomona Bakery. So Pomona has a wine/bar, locally brewed beer, sandwich place as well. SO THERE!

Anonymous said...

One last comment on this subject...from me anyway...we are talking about a Burger as though it is a culinary masterpiece. What next, some overpriced place is going to become the Hot Dog Master? I can't wait for the day someone makes a "gourmet" salami sandwich and wants to charge $25 for it by saying the bread "pairs well" with the fat in the salami. I think these places need to get over the BS and get back to just being real or they won't last long enough for Meg or anyone else to say "I told you so". I think we all appreciate real food that is fresh and prepared with care...we also appreciate being able to afford to eat it.