‘A Strip Club Inside a Cruise Ship’

Since its February acquisition of the Morton’s steakhouse chain, Landry’s Inc. has pushed through a series of changes to the venerable institution rendering it hardly recognizable to its longtime patrons. On a recent visit to the downtown D.C. location, the dark-wood paneling was ripped out and replaced with gaudy-looking silver and black. Previously I noted how new owner Tilman Fertitta planned on making Morton’s more hip with the youngsters, which is all well and good—except the clientele at this particular Morton’s is of the lobbyist-lawyer-expense account variety. Somehow I don’t think Leonard Leo or Ted Olson are wanting to sway to the vibe of LMFAO.

How to describe the new interior? As one employee said, it’s been called “a strip club inside a cruise ship.” But the servers and the managers can’t do anything about this—they receive their orders directly from Landry’s in Houston. And watching the transformation must be painful.

A reader recently posted this comment to my previous post:

As a former Morton’s employee and, now, a fairly frequent current diner, I’m more than bothered by the changes. No “thinly sliced smoked salmon,” no menu cart, no after dinner drink tray for the VIPs…. and no Frank! Are you kidding? Ah, but there will be the points-reward system and an unrecognizable menu. Nice. Change is good, but ruining a good thing… Priceless! Good luck Landry’s… you’ll need it!

I did speak with a now former staffer who told me the restaurant switched its meat. “What a lot of people don’t know is that there are different levels of prime,” he explained. Whereas Morton’s once paid $40 for a steak and charged $45 for it, the ex-staffer continued, it now gets beef at $30 and charges more than $50. It’s still prime, mind you, and that’s better than the shrimp, which I have heard other customers complain about. The ex-staffer noted that the shrimp now come from Fertitta’s other company, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. How is it? Said the ex-staffer, “Don’t get the shrimp—it’s shit.”

I refuse to let this Morton’s die—it has too many talented servers, managers, and chefs. And I don’t think they want any of this any more than the rest of us do. So what can be done? A waiter suggested complaining to corporate. Here is the link.

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