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Brazikat owner Sam Barakat
Brazikat Brazilian Steak & Seafood House (172 Carondelet Plz. in Clayton) closed its doors Tuesday evening. The Brazilian churrascaria-type restaurant had been open only a year and a half.
Relish caught up with owner Sam Barakat Wednesday afternoon, just after he apprised his managers of the closure, and he summed up the situation briefly: “We just didn’t make it…St. Louis is a tough market.”
And it didn’t help that the initial reviews (from Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch and Ian Froeb, then of the RFT) were, ahem, less than glowing, and were published within two weeks of each other. In the old days, according to Barakat, a restaurateur could have weathered such a storm. “Years ago,” he said, “people read a review—good or bad—and were done with it. It was forgotten. Nowadays, they’re permanent—it’s there over and over again, every time someone Googles it.”
And It didn't help matters any that another steakhouse (801 Chophouse) opened on Carondelet Plaza late last year. Such a presence may have weakened an already limping player.
Several months prior to Brazikat’s opening in December 2012, we caught up with the affable owner, had a long chat, and honestly were quite impressed with the man. We were, however, concerned that the reviews of Gaucho’s, his other Brazilian restaurant located in Valparaiso, Indiana, were uneven. In retrospect, the concern was justified.
In an unusual and sad twist, Barakat said he also closed Gaucho’s, just two weeks ago. “Ironically, it was the success of Gaucho’s that allowed me to come into the St. Louis market,” he said, “and Brazikat’s failure in this market that ultimately took down Gaucho’s.”
When asked what his next move would be, Barakat’s answer was typical of a restaurant owner in his situation: “I’m going to spend some time with my kids,” be asserted. “I’ve put in 390 days straight. When I started this restaurant, my kids were four and six; now they’re six and eight. It’s time to slow down.”