Thursday, February 20, 2003
TROUBLES WITH GEORGE...I'm sitting here with a pile of papers spread out in front of me covering a range of topics (and the whole of my desk) from the IRS'S efforts to strong-arm restaurants into ratting out their tipped employees-while giant corporations find loophole after loophole-to that one-legged shakedown artist who's gone from shaking down wineries to strong-arming them into paying protection money to keep him from suing them for alleged non-compliance with the handicap regulations. You remember our concerned citizen, ex-felon turned civil crusader GEORGE LOUIE, who after losing a leg to diabetes-I wonder, was it adult onset diabetes, which if regulated by diligent monitoring of diet and lifestyle, is usually manageable-found a way to apply his criminally crafted intellect to filing mass lawsuits against unsuspecting small businesses, business that had to meet state and federal handicap regulations in order to open, then settling out of court for tens of thousands of dollars.
Well, now our boy Louie has graduated into the protection game. He has generously offered to delay filing suit against 235 wineries if they in turn agree to pay his organization, the "non-profit" AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ADVOCATES, a mere $250 dollars apiece. That will buy them six months to hire a consultant (I wonder if his organization also provides consulting services) on compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Call me cynical (definitely call me cynical) but I also wonder if the naming of boy George's organization was an attempt to coattail itself upon the name given to the actual law.
Here's where the various winery organizations like the VINTNERS AND GROWERS ASSOCIATIONS in each of the regions should ban together and come out against that idiot. What is wrong with the judges out there? At least they threw out the obesity suit filed against MCDONALD'S (a glimmer of hope).
LESS IS MORE...Speaking of obesity in society, what's up with the size of some of these portions in restaurants? There has been a subtle evolution toward enormity until now, if people aren't getting their entire daily requirement of calories in one plate, they feel like they are being cheated. Here's an idea for the new millennium: Back off on the portions. Slow down the eating so you are savoring the food instead of fighting at the trough, and watch your life improve.
NO, WE'RE NOT SENDING YOU TO CHINA, RAY...Lest you think I am only a harbinger of depressing news, I ran across a pretty cool website, LOCALWINEEVENTS.COM, that lists all types of wine events around the world. It is chock full of interesting information. In fact, I just booked a reservation to the second annual CHINA (BEIJING) INTERNATIONAL WINE & SPIRITS TRADE FAIR which takes place in April...not really, but I could have if the editors of this rag would start coming across. Maybe I should get George Louie on them.
HONORING SERVERS...Hey you restaurant owners and managers: log on to nraef.org, the website for the NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION, and check out the section about the second annual EMPLOYER OF CHOICE AWARDS. It "honors those restaurant and food service operators who truly understand that enhancing employee satisfaction ultimately leads to achieving guest satisfaction." If you can't get on line, call 1-800-765-2122, ext. 394 for an application. Deadline is March 15.
Ran across a couple of talented bartenders in the last couple of weeks. After hanging out with the millionaire flyboys and girls at the GULFSTREAM PARTY at the Aquarium during AT&T WEEK-when we walked in the greeting was "Thank you for shopping Gulfstream"-Joe Cingari and I stopped at Sly's for a refresher. There was a young, sharp stick man back there name of BILLY HODGES (which I think was also the name of a fine jazz drummer).
Also, me and Sweet Thing were at the Monterey Peninsula Airport meeting a friend so we stopped for a cocktail at the coolest retro lounge available in any public airport, the GOLDEN TEE. Holding court was a gentleman, one generation further along than young Billy, a Mister Mike Reta, who was showing all who noticed how to make folks happy during happy hour. My hat's off to these and all the hardworking bartenders out there who are working it every day.
Speaking of service, one night in Paris, we came upon a Neapolitan joint a couple blocks from the Champs d' Elysees. It looked good so we stopped in for a bite. The food was perfect and the service was so right. It was informal, efficient and completely devoid of the saccharin over-friendliness so common in most American joints-especially corporate restaurants. Unfortunately, many of the patrons in restaurants need to be entertained, loved and coddled. Grow up.
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