The Natick Collection – Show Me the Customers

The new addition to the Natick Mall Collection has opened. Not all the shops are live yet, but about half or so are. The boss and I were able to spend a couple hours having dinner and wandering about the place tonight.

The presumed crown jewel, Neiman Marcus, opens Satuday. Despite my prior ranting about Neiman’s email spam, as the day grows closer, I’m quite curious to check it out. Hopefully it’ll be a “Stanford Shopping Center” Neiman’s and not a “Copley Square” Neiman’s.

More broadly, I’m damn curious to see how this whole mall collection expansion plays out. I have serious reservations about whether the market can support that many square feet of high-end retail. I remember when the Atrium Mall originally opened in Newton. Its aspirations were clearly to out-class the Chestnut Hill Mall across the street. That didn’t pan out, and both malls are now owned by Simon.

We had dinner at Sel de la Terre. I knew of the original restaurant in Boston, but have never been to it. Perhaps it’s the growing pains of being open only a week or so, but we won’t be rushing back. Half of the food was mediocre at best, and the other half was excellent. Wacky. The service was no better than Olive Garden (ugh) or Friday’s (double-ugh) down the street. Don’t get me started on the hostess. Either Sel de la Terre’s hiring standards stink, or their training processes stink. Either way, it’s unacceptable at the price point, and is certainly not what I expected from Mr. McClelland (though it was everything I expected out of Metro-West (that’s not a compliment, and, yes, I live here)). If you absolutely must try it out, maybe you should give them a month or two to get their shit together.

All that said, the new wing of the mall collection makes for, at a minimum, some great window shopping and people-watching! And you can iFondle at the Apple store!!

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