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Clyde Iron Rant

I don’t necessarily think this is the forum to rip into a local business, but I have to ask fellow PDDers about their experience with the quality of food and service at Clyde Iron Works. I’ve seen a couple great shows there — TBT earlier this summer, and Brandi Carlile last night. The venue itself is truly great, as is the building, but we have yet to have anything to eat there that didn’t leave us with a bad taste in our mouth, figuratively speaking.

When the place first opened, we brought extended family there during a non-event night; we ended up sitting and waiting for food for a ridiculous amount of time, only to eventually have cold, congealed food delivered to our table. Since then, we’ve tried them a few more times, and each time it’s basically been a repeat of the first night.

At last night’s concert, long before the show began, we ordered the special. It was super busy because of the concert, so they told us it would take 20 minutes. An hour later, after missing a good portion of the opening act, the food finally arrived, cold. All we had ordered was a single order of “the special” (a chicken wrap with fries). Granted, they had a massive crowd and it would be difficult to provide hot food to everyone — but I don’t understand why they even bother to try.

If they sell food, they should make sure it’s delivered in a reasonable amount of time and is edible. My wife sent the cold fries back, but the second attempt was as bad as the first, so we just put them in the trash. Why don’t they just serve pizza by the slice or something more appropriate for such a big crowd?

We eat out a lot, and although we have high standards, we also tend to give an establishment the benefit of the doubt — but after 3 or 4 horrible dining experiences at Clyde Iron, I find myself wondering if we have very bad luck or if they just don’t make decent food or have decent (sufficient) service.

48 Comment(s)

  1. I’ve always had good meals at Clyde, but I generally go for lunch.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  2. The food service there is horrible. I had to flag down a waitress every time or go and get a refill of a beverage myself. Only when I am standing there they ask “can I help you?” Not only that,the way they handled the lines for the Brandi Carlile show was very confusing. No signs marking anything or no one directing us where to go. Hopefully they will improve things and be prepared for future events. The show and sound were about the only positives I liked. Cool venue that needs better service.

    Pete | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  3. We’ve been there 3 times. Once we got food within a reasonable time frame. The other times it was well over 30 minutes, with one time being just under an hour. Haven’t been back since and we eat out a lot. The food was good and not cold when it arrived, but the waitstaff was terrible. I hope it has improved, we’d like to give it one more try. I wish they’d keep their event calendar up to date on the website as we don’t want to go when there is a big event.

    Kelly Boed | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  4. Holy cow! Thank you! I was there last night, and I normally love “The Clyde”, but the venue hosting was terrible. I was thinking about posting something, but didn’t want to be a grumpy ol’ fart…but since you started it, I wanted to add something.

    Processing ticket holders was very slow and poorly handled (I think the last people get in around 8:40, 40 minutes after the show started), the lighting of the show was jarring and lopsided, the food services was soooo slow because the servers had more interest in chatting with friends then getting food out, and the bathroom doors made a terrible jarring sound that were very audible during Brandi’s more quiet songs.

    On the plus side, just so you know that I am not a total stick in the mud, the security was friendly (part of the reason they were so slow was they kept chatting with customers) and the food that we ordered (with a 50 minute wait) was good. In fairness, I think I saw the owner (Gulliani?) roll up his sleeves and pitch in with carrying food out during part of the more crazy time.

    I guess my advice is for events at Clyde: stay away. But, for lunch or early dinner, I still think it is an awesome place and I highly recommend it. I really hope they get their act together; I would think after being open this long they would be able to work out the kinks. I love Clyde Iron and I want it to be a success!

    Steven | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  5. I’ve had lunch there twice. On a Saturday, with a big group, we ordered downstairs and that was fast. On a weekday, with a group of five, we sat upstairs and that was slow. Both times, my food was awesome, and everyone else said they were really happy with theirs, too.

    I was a little annoyed at how long it took the second time I was there, but I thought, “Okay, now I know.” Lots of my favorite places around town are slow. If that’s not going to work, I pick something else.

    doubledutch | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  6. Agreed with @Steven’s comments about the wait time for tickets. Why couldn’t they separate out will call and folks with tickets in-hand? Instead of what I thought would be a quick’n'easy ticket pick-up at a will call window, I was in line for 45 mins. The line snaked out of the doors and back into the parking lot, at least 200 people long from 6:30 on — and this with the show not starting until 8 PM.

    Another thought -- there were no signs, or friendly Clyde staff around to offer help. I had to walk up to the security table and ask if the line was will call and in-hand tickets, where to go, and how things were organized. There was no signage or direction of any kind. Poorly executed -- but excellent show by Brandi & the band. Best part being when the lights were turned up on the left-hand side of the crowd without explanation and left on, to which Brandi said, “That’s bullshit! Turn ‘em off!” Awesome.

    ewesterl | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  7. A few months ago a large group dad ordered all the food days in advance. When the group got there, the food order was wrong. Someone did not notice that “vegetarian lasagna” had the word “vegetarian” in it, and a lot of people couldn’t eat the meat lasagna. What made matters worse is that drinks and waters were not refilled in a timely manner, which meant not only were many hungry, but also thirsty.

    Paddy | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  8. I have always felt an odd vibe when I go in there.

    It starts with the entrance, which is cold, vast and unwelcoming. If you didn’t hear the people upstairs, you wouldn’t know where to go. Having to walk by the bar to get to the dining/concert area is odd as well, as it seems to cause a bottleneck among patrons.

    I have not spent enough time there to give a solid review, but it just doesn’t “feel” right.

    Question | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  9. I love Clyde Iron. I have had excellent food there-- great burgers, delicious mac & cheese, and more. I love the industrial atmosphere — it’s so unique and visually interesting to hang out in. It is a bit loud, and can be a bit cold in the winter, but that’s part of the industrial ambiance for me. It’s an old iron works after all — warm and cozy would not be appropriate for this space. It should be expected that this unique space would not feel right for some patrons — it is different, and that is what most of us love about the space. It would be a shame to change it to make it more “normal” or “average.”

    I have been there several times, and the only time I had any issues was during a private pizza party — the pizza was not its usual delicious self — it was soggy and less than stellar. I forgive them for this though — just one mishap out of several enjoyable meals is understandable.

    Based on these reviews, it seems that service may be the main issue. I would say that Duluth has pretty mediocre service overall and the Clyde fits in — no better or worse than the average Duluth restaurant. I believe the quality of service could use major improvements citywide with a few exceptions.

    I hope this thread does not turn into a Clyde bash — this place can be thanked for reinvigorating the 30th Avenue West area and bringing a whole new concept of industrial reuse to Duluth. They turned an abandoned contaminated site into a community sports center, music venue, and restaurant. I have had excellent food there on several occasions, and their service is at par for Duluth. What more could we ask for?

    jen | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  10. I eat there a lot during hockey season because my kids play. We’ve had up-and-down experiences there. The food is generally good, but the service is spotty. Long waits after ordering, long waits for drinks service, and wait staff that seem sort of amazed when I ask for something. Like, if it says I get BBQ sauce as a side for my burger, don’t be surprised when I ask where it is when you put the burger down and it’s not there.

    I like the venue a lot — I think the entrance is unusual and cool, and I like being able to bring kids there without feeling like I’m disrupting other people’s experiences. I like the reuse of the old building and the decor that celebrates its history. I wish the town still had the factory jobs, but if it can’t be a factory anymore, I think it’s a good repurposing.

    I feel like the restaurant is close to being very good, but just can’t quite get over the hump. I hope it does. Otherwise, if you’re in the area, T-Bonz has kickass burgers.

    udarnik | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  11. Thanks for everyone’s comments. I’m glad I’m not alone. Like Steven, I hope it succeeds since it’s such a cool venue -- I will definitely give it another chance.

    By the way -- the time Brandi yelled “That’s bullshit! Turn ‘em off!” -- I’m pretty sure there was a lady who had collapsed and needed to be helped out by two people supporting her.

    Ethan | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  12. I have had up and down experiences too. I have kinda soured on them lately. I only order the Ravioli and cheese and noticed that there can be a very long wait. My other issue is that the ravioli has been excellent 2 times but the rest of the time it has be very under or very over cooked.

    I haven’t had to many issues with the service but once ordered the cheese ravioli and got a mix of cheese and meat. They took it back and I waited for a cheese. I felt they made up with for this by offing a free desert so, again, I having had to many issues with service.

    Love the venue, and it is the reason why I keep coming back.

    conrad | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  13. I’ve been there several times, all for dinner. I think it’s always been Friday or Saturday night, so it’s been busy. Never been there during an event, but I was there a couple hours before one one night. I’ve never had any problems with food or service. Food is always hot, service is pretty good. I’ve recommended it to others and never heard anything bad.

    Tom | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  14. The site was contaminated? Where can I learn more?

    David Beard | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  15. David Beard, see here:

    The Benefits of Brownfield Redevelopment in Minnesota

    Clyde Iron Works, Duluth. This 10.2 acre site, which had been used for industrial purposes since the late 1800s and was contaminated with petroleum, heavy metals, coal dust, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, sat vacant for over twenty years. It is now home to seven businesses and community facilities, including the Clyde Iron Works Restaurant, a Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and the Duluth Heritage Sports Center, which brings an estimated $2 million in additional tourism spending to the area. The project leveraged $25 million in private investment.

    jen | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  16. Love the venue. Been there a few times, once for drinks with friends and once for food. Both times the service was slow but not horrible. The food was rather disappointing, especially considering the price. I would head back there for a show perhaps but I’ll eat elsewhere.

    @ndy | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  17. I want to give a shout out to the male bartender that has been there on the handful of weekend nights I have been there. He has noticed on most occasions when my beer is getting low and offers to refill it. Great bartender!

    Rij | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  18. My parents and I eat dinner in the West End just about every Friday. We ate at the Clyde once. It was enough. Now we stick to TBonz.

    The Friendly Old Knifey | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  19. I love many of the things put on PDD but I find some of the rants posted on this topic are a little petty. I happen to think the Clyde offers some of the best pizza in town, has a great social presence, offers great music opportunities, exemplifies a philosophy of action and has an awesome renovated feel. I think there are some tweaks that could be done to music performances and service but I ask naysayers this. Have any of you been to First Avenue? It has some of the same feel of that venue. For the record—the strange lighting on one side of the stage that made Brandi comment was due to a medical emergency of a patron. They needed the lights up to quickly whisk them away for assistance. I have to say the show last night was one of the best music events I’ve attended in many years…even with any inconsistencies or inconveniences that happened to be present. Constructive criticism will help this venue get even better, however. Keep it coming or better yet…send them a letter directly. I think we should support the efforts to make this an even better venue in Duluth.

    Jay | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  20. I really wanted to like the Clyde. Local business, unique atmosphere; all things that I tend to enjoy. I’ve been there for lunch and dinner (during events and on normal weekdays/ends). I tried. I tried hard. I kept going back (six times in total) thinking that they would eventually iron out their issues. Bad food and even worse service. Waiting a long time for dry chicken and poorly seasoned food and being virtually ignored by waitstaff are not hallmarks of a restaurant worth patronizing. If you’re needing a place to eat in the West End, go to the Duluth Grill. The food is great and the service is good.

    Rebecca | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  21. Ixnay on the Uluthday Rillgay. It is already usybay enough and should be kept ecretsay.

    Paddy | Aug 15, 2011 | New Comment
  22. I should have also added that we waited for food for over two hours and also had to bus our own table. People who arrived after us were waited on right away and got their food faster. The waitress was right behind me, about to bus the table, when I asked if we could get some menus. Might be better off eating elsewhere before a big event from now on.

    Pete | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  23. Clyde hasn’t been open long enough to hit its stride. Owning a restaurant is something a lot of people think they can do (how hard could it be to make dinner?) but is actually very difficult to do. It is absolutely like herding cats.

    They will either solve these problems or they won’t last. Write to them and tell them about your experiences. They will profit from that.

    Carla | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  24. If you go to eat somewhere when they are having a big event, you should expect slower service.

    Though… 2 hours IS inexcusable for a place that serves food, regardless of the event.

    Question | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  25. I’m surprised at the comments of bad food. Limited choices yes, but bad? I will stand on my opinion -- best burgers in Duluth. Please no comments on Anchor Bar, that is Superior.

    R | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  26. I have seen the cluster they call a box office at a few very busy shows. I have 15 years of experience with live music and busy shows from an operations/ logistics angle. I have offered (for free) to help Clyde set up a system to get people more informed and out of line and off to the bar multiple times, and have had no response. “Sucka don’t want no help, sucka don’t get no help.”

    I agree that it is a good place, they just need a few tweaks to make it a great place. It is too bad they do not seem interested in solving the problems people are voicing here.

    B-man | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  27. Why do you keep going? If you don’t like it eat at home. Just a thought.

    Meghann | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  28. I went for the music, and I think it’s fair to expect a small meal that isn’t cold in a reasonable amount of time, if they advertise it. You’re right. Next time, I should eat at home before the show.

    Ethan | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  29. I like the building, the food, and the fact that they are trying to be a legit concert venue. They are doing many things right. And I think most people in Duluth really want to like the place. However, all of these things cannot make up for shitty service, confusing lines, and a generally unwelcoming face. A lot of the problems are simply personnel/staffing issues. But, none of what’s being said here is new and I have to think management has heard such feed back as well. So, I’m left to think that either the management doesn’t get it or they just don’t care.

    blue | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  30. I have had a good experience most of the times I gone there, but I would admit that I’ve had bad service. They probably have a lot of growing to do as a restaurant. I have noticed a lot of new staff, so that might contribute to the bad service. I still enjoy going there, they have an awesome chicken sandwich and a great bloody Mary bar weekend mornings.

    brto80 | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  31. What b-man said.

    c-freak | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  32. Clyde Iron has been a learning experience for me and our staff. There are a lot of hurdles we have had to get over and we are working very hard to try and do good here in our community. Bringing up a part of town that no resources have been given to has been very hard. Thanks to everyone that has given us a chance.

    We have gone out and brought in big national acts that have not played here in the past and we are still committed to providing this. Each show is different and our last one (Brandi Carlile) was great. The show was sold out and was different with many people coming early to the show. This was something I was not prepared for and it showed with the long waits. I learned from this and will work on making everyone’s experience better going forward.

    Alex | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  33. Other venues that sometimes have similar issues often offer drink/food tokens for a future visit. Getting something for free gets the customer back in the door to give the place another chance.

    Peanut | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  34. “Have any of you been to First Avenue? It has some of the same feel of that venue.”

    Are you high?

    adam | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  35. We’ve been there four times and will not be returning. Pizza at lunch with only eight other customers in the place should not have raw unbaked dough in the center. Three other visits have had 55 minutes waits, wrong food.

    They don’t need any more of my cash.

    DJ/MN | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  36. I appreciate all that the Clyde is doing. The restaurant is more than just serving food, drinks, and music. It is an intentional infusion into a dilapidated area. I appreciate that I can bike or walk to Clyde from my Denfeld neighborhood.

    That said we ate there right after it opened and the dish I ordered was not good. Fortunately, the owner was making the rounds and greeting guests so I could give my suggestions for improvement. He took my feedback seriously and the menu item I critiqued has since improved. We have been back several times and had good service and good food. We had somewhat of a long wait once, but the waitress took off the price of our drinks from the bill. I really like going to the Clyde and will continue to support a great local business.

    My only current complaint, the skimpy wine pours…

    eolson | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  37. I think Clyde is great! I’ve been there countless times for a variety of reasons (lunch, dinner, to see Hairball in the back room, to see Todd Eckart upstairs), and sure, there have been some blips along the way, but the owners didn’t spend a big pile of money renovating the building just to have the business fail.

    Alex, I appreciate your commitment to improvement--that’s what businesses should be doing, and I like Clyde enough to have already booked my wedding reception there next spring. Folks, give it another shot. And try the pizza. Simple and delicious.

    Kelli | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  38. I agree with the burger comment above. The best burger I have ever had in Duluth, MN was at Clyde on July 14, 2011. Fantastic. And the Salmon Chowder is excellent.

    Burger Connoisseur | Aug 16, 2011 | New Comment
  39. I feel like I opened a real can of worms with this post. I really do hope Clyde succeeds, and I definitely plan on giving it another chance. I know it’s more than just a restaurant (also great reclaimed space and venue for music). Still, I do hope they remember that if they serve food, they should do it properly. The building and space is awesome, and they host great music with what seems to be a stellar sound system, so I have to give them credit for that. All I can say is please don’t forget about food and service since you’re primarily a restaurant, even during an event night.

    Ethan | Aug 17, 2011 | New Comment
  40. Been there ’bout 7 times, all excellent. Brandi Carlisle night WAS kinda off, but I don’t expect perfection. Btw: waiting two hours for food. Were you handcuffed to the table? Leave for gosh sakes! :)

    Keith | Aug 18, 2011 | New Comment
  41. Second Keith.

    Meghann | Aug 19, 2011 | New Comment
  42. I too, like many above, wanted to like Clyde, I usually love to support local, non-chain eating establishments that serve something other than reheated frozen meals like we’ve all had at the big chain places.

    I have been to Clyde three times. The first was shortly after it opened. Upon arrival we were confused as there was no host or signage directing us that upstairs was full service and downstairs was cafeteria style. After standing there for about three minutes, the kitchen manager came over and welcomed us and informed us to go upstairs. Being that this was a Tuesday at 3 p.m., I was not too upset, I understand the importance of controlling labor in a restaurant. Anyway, our food came, but it was wrong. I was impressed that most of the menu items were “homemade” but in my opinion, if your version of homemade tastes worse than the stuff you can buy, then you should figure out how to improve it. Our service was not horrible, and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

    We returned two other times also to have mediocre service and lame food. I think this place has so much potential, I can’t but help but believe that if they had not have received $500,000 in special loans, they would not still be open. Anybody can run a failing business when they aren’t required to make a profit for the first X number of months. And in March, Clyde asked for a 90-day extension on its loan from the city. Not a good sign.

    Believe me, I want to see the place succeed, I think it has a lot of potential, but, as a restaurant manager in town, I can’t but help wonder who they have running the place. Poor service and crappy food are definitely not a recipe for the success of any restaurant. It’s a cool building, but how many times will someone return just for that?

    Jake | Aug 22, 2011 | New Comment
  43. It greatly hurts me to see all of these posts. As a Clyde employee, I know many of the staff are dedicated to giving our guests a great experience to the best of our ability. There are still many many kinks to work out at Clyde, but this comes with time. We beg that if at any time during your visit you are unhappy, please express your concern. We cannot fix the problem if we don’t know it even exists. (This holds true for any restaurant.) Please tell us if anything is wrong. Please ask to talk to a manager if something is wrong (or incredibly right!). And know that a lot of us there really do care about your experience, the owner, and the revitalization of the West End community and only wish the absolute best for the future of Clyde.

    Thank you all for your input, I will make sure to pass this on.

    ZZ | Aug 23, 2011 | New Comment
  44. In my humble opinion, the Clyde would be served best by better signage/organization.

    Two simple signs would address the biggest issues: “If you sit here, order at that counter; if you want service, go upstairs.” “Here’s the line for food, there’s the line for the event.”

    Bad Cat! | Aug 23, 2011 | New Comment
  45. Arrows on the floor.

    adam | Aug 23, 2011 | New Comment
  46. Interesting comments. We live in the neighborhood and frequent the Clyde once a week or so. Really like the atmosphere, easy parking and the fact it’s rarely so full you can’t get a table. We’ve had good luck with the woodfired pizza, and $12 for a 16″ one topping is really not a bad deal … the service has always been friendly and really prompt right off the bat but agree they do tend to be MIA about the time you want a refill.

    Also hope they keep bringing live shows in, but they could stand to update the Live at Clyde websight so we may know when they are. The calendar hasn’t been updated since April.

    Those are just minor things that they can easily “iron” out ba dum dum though. Do hope they stick around.

    er | Aug 24, 2011 | New Comment
  47. My husband, other family members and I have eaten at Clyde many times. Wait staff has always been friendly and attentive. We had awesome food at a union Christmas party. The food has always been good, however, I wish they would expand the menu.
    We have a class reunion there tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes!

    Margaret | Sep 15, 2011 | New Comment
  48. Hello All,
    I Dj Mouse, has started cooking my authentic Caribbean food at the Clyde. Please come on down and bring your family and give me your feedback. I suspect many of you are just salivating in anticipation, that’s fine. I have already been stocking up on the Coconut Curry and Jamaican Jerk -- Hot Wings Sauce. Come on down and try something new..We celebrate the “Diversity of the American Worker!” thanks and have something to eat!

    djmouse | Feb 8, 2012 | New Comment

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