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World Wide Wackiness in Heights

One of the three restaurants involved in a co-branding Web site called “the Corner of Cranberry” is already out of business.

That’s a tough corner.

It’s been a hard few months for the restaurants at Henry and Cranberry streets in Brooklyn Heights — Maestro, the Blue Pig and the now-defunct Aficionada. You’d think with all the people coming to eat at Henry’s End and Noodle Pudding, some of the business would spill over to Maestro and its neighbors.

But, alas, no.

There’s hardly been a time when I’ve seen all three places anything but mostly empty — although to be fair, the Blue Pig, an ice cream parlor, closes during the off-season.

And now Aficionada has shut down (no surprise there, frankly. It was billed as a Spanish restaurant, but served more Mexican food than anything else).

So what did the owners of these establishments do to drum up business for themselves? They joined forces and created a Web site. With menus.

You are forgiven if you haven’t bookmarked it yet.

Chris Fehlinger, Maestro’s general manager, tried to explain the idea behind glomming together an “American bistro” with an ice cream shop and a Spanish place to rake in the customers.

“The three restaurants used to be one huge place,” he said. (Oh yeah — Chez Henry.) Maestro and Aficionada are co-owned by nabe attorney Alan Young, who is also partners with Blue Pig owner Julia Horowitz in another venture, Cranberry Place, the kiddie-party-place-by-day-wine-bar-jazz-lounge-by-night right across the street. (This gets more incestuous than an Appalachian family reunion.)

But business relationships are not the only thing the three restaurants share. Because they used to be one giant place, says Fehlinger, they also share a kitchen. One.

It made running the restaurants a bit hard, especially considering that the Blue Pig is stuck between the two places that need the kitchen most.

The problem is being partly solved by turning Aficionada into a pizza place (and changing its name). There’s an unused space in the restaurant that would be great for a pizza oven, and they wouldn’t need to use Maestro’s kitchen — or not as much.

It’s still unclear as to how the Web site is going to help business, though. Perhaps, like Simon and Garfunkel, the cast of “Friends” and Germany, we’d all be better off if the three spaces reunited.

After all, wouldn’t it be more efficient if, say, Maestro and the restaurant formerly known as Aficionada devised a menu together and, oh, I don’t know, served desserts provided by the Blue Pig?

It sure would beat all the finger-pointing going on.

“The problem with Aficionada was that it wasn’t as focused as it needed to be,” says Fehlinger. But isn’t that Maestro’s problem as well? Brooklyn Heights bloggers recently ridiculed the restaurant as “American Bistro in a French Country–style restaurant with an Italian menu, California wine list, and a Wall of Tea.”

It makes no sense. And until the identity crisis is solved, a Web site isn’t going to do much but add to the confusion. Especially when one of the three restaurants is closed.

The Kitchen Sink

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