Saturday, December 19, 2009

'Tis the season

Well, yet again, I can see that there are more "avoid" postings on Craigslist. Does anybody have any GOOD NEWS for this Holiday season?

I've personally gotten some really good stories on STAY THE F*CK AWAY FROM.

They include:

W Burger Bar
Lily Resto-Louge
and Coco Lazone.

Ironically all three are on College Street within a klick of each other.

Please let's have some good news before the New Year.



  1. I for one second a bulletin. I was going to try and email this to you so you could post, but here goes.

    I've sadly got to add to your ongoing College St. list (could there be a blog dedicated to the shit that goes on there? probably).

    I worked at Caplanskys, which if anyone has not heard of it, is a Jewish deli that opened this year and serves smoked meat. There are many things that are not right about this place, including the fact that they only had their health inspection this month, after three months open... My story isn't about how bad they were, just how bad they were to me and why I had to quit.

    The last night I worked there, the boss, Zane Caplansky, came charging into the kitchen as he tends to.
    "What's this? What the fuck are you making?" he questions.
    "Well, just the potato croquettes. And this time, filled with beef and pickles, it was Andy's idea."
    "Wait. Why are you fucking doing this? Who told you to make these?"
    "Well, I figured we had so much leftover mash again and you told me to make croquettes last time"
    "That's bullshit. Who told you you could just make food whenever you wanted out of whatever you wanted. You're supposed to be making my food, what's on the menu. Why are you making this?"
    "Well, to be honest, I think it should be on the menu as an app. It's quick and easy and..."
    "I don't fucking care. I don't want to know your ideas. This is my menu: mine!"

    (I should interject here that two of the dishes on the menu were my ideas and recipes, which I was never given credit for at all. I was also regularly coming up with food based on leftovers)

    "From now on you only cook food that is on the menu. Nothing else or you're fired. Ok? Get it!?"
    He storms out of the kitchen, than stops and turns back. He continues to question me.
    "Who were you making that food for, huh? Whose getting free food? Who told you you could serve free food, no charge to ANYONE!?"
    "Well, these croquettes are for the dishwashers, because they get free food."
    "And who told you they could get free food?"
    "Charlie." (also, the first chef Danny had specified they would get free food, but he was fired. I wasn't even giving them free meals, I was just giving them snacks in between because they were being asked to pay for meals).
    "Well, that's Charlies fuck up and I'll have to talk to him now."
    (Charlie was the new Kitchen manager after Danny got fired. He was working for less than $5 an hour, I was working meanwhile for $11. I'd started for $9.50!!! and gotten a raise to $11.50, but then they just decided to Jew me out my remaining 50 cents. BTW, when I say that hey Jewed me, I say it being the only Jewish person who was working in their kitchen and someone who knows a thing or two about Jewing people.)

  2. With this backstory out of the way, here's why I quit.

    This last day there I went home early, as I had done the night before, because the kitchen was very full of smoke and I was feeling sick from it. There is an industrial smoker in there made to cook 50 briskets at a time, but not equipped to vent that smoke. From the first day it was installed, with the venting done by Charlie whose only experience in that field of mechanics was from growing weed, black smoke water leaked out of the vent tube. The solution was to put buckets around to collect the condensed smoke, despite my warning that where there is smoke there will be significant buildup of grease in the air and it will clog the vents.

    In the three months I was working there they did not clean out the vents once. They broke down despite my warnings to clean them until the point where all of the smoke from the line was being sucked out the door because the vents it was sharing with the smoker were completely clogged. It got so bad my eyes burned, my throat was parched, and I threw up. I almost passed out and had to sit down a few times. This happened two days in a row before my day off when I figured I would recover.

    On my day off, I woke up with a startling pain in my lungs. They felt burnt. I couldn't breath deeply. I have experience with vocal training for singing and I know how to breath with the diaphram and I could feel that not only could I not get breath into the deep part of my lungs, I couldnt even seem to hold my breath. I was hyperventilating. I called my family doctor and he said to go to the hospital, but I declined because I knew if I'd had carbon monoxide poisoning I'd be dead, and didnt feel like waiting around in a room with sick people. Luckily, my father is a doctor and I went up to his office. He had me breath into a meter which said I was only using a bit under 30% of normal lung capacity. In other words, I had bronchitis. He gave me a puffer and told me that I absolutely could not work in the kitchen at Caplanskys until I was better and they were legally obligated to fix the ventilation because it was causing permanent physical harm. I'm not the only victim of this either. Danny had lost his voice from working there and complained constantly of how draining it was to work as an expeditor with the smoker behind you on one side and the line on the other, surrounded by smoke.

    Not working in the kitchen shouldn't have been a problem. A week before in my three month assessment with the boss he had told me he wanted to make me a slicer in the front part time, which would come with a pay raise (loooooooooool) and would be a fun break from the monotony of that kitchen.

    I called up Zane and told him what had happened. I said that I was coming back from a doctors appointment and that I would have doctors notes for him saying that I couldnt work in the kitchen for a while and could he switch me to a slicer part time and I would still be able to do my duties with bread and inventory and things like that. I also asked him when he was going to have the vents cleaned out finally. He replied that he would call the vent dude and check right back with me. He hung up and then called me back five seconds later. I'll try as best I can to reproduce the exact conversation we then had.

    "Michael, I just had a thought. You smoke marijuana."
    "Right, you know that"

  3. "Well, how can I believe that you got this problem from my smoker when you also smoke dope? How could you possibly know that its from my smoker and does your doctor know that you smoke marijuana?"
    "Well, my doctor wrote me a prescription for that that I can also show you with the note."
    "Bullshit. I think you're lying to me."
    "You're lying to me right now, and let me tell you something else, I know that you're trying to steal from me. Those staff meals you were making? If no one pays for it, that is theft. You've been stealing from me, and you've been underperforming with everything. To be frank, how can you talk to me about this when I think you're high right now and lying to me?"

    (this conversation was being held while I was getting a ride home in my mums car btw, she looking at me incredulously the whole while)

    "Well Zane, two days in a row I got sick at your place because of what I said: sick to the point that I threw up, felt light headed and blacked out and physically could no longer work after just five hours off and on in that kitchen. That couldn't have been from weed because I didnt smoke any on break and it was for sure from your smoker because I wasn't the only one complaining about how hard it was to breath. I don't know how you could say you think I'm lying because I will have doctors notes for you confirming all that I'm saying. If you don't want to believe me that's because of your own problems and has nothing to do with me. I think you sound very paranoid."

    (to put also into perspective, Zane is a chronic marijuana user as he has told me during one of the many times that I smoked him up, and I have been told several times by Andy, who was his friend and coworker for years, that they used to do cocaine at their last job at Magic Oven, snorting it off the rolling surface. Zane would regularly come into work and shout at us, than leave to his car where he would smoke a joint (I caught him doing this as did others) than come back and suddenly be apologetic. Weed guilt we called it.)

    "Michael, I'm not going to worry about what you think..."
    "Zane, I quit!"
    "You're fired!"

    I hang up the phone and look at my mum.

    "Well, at least that's done. I heard what he said and he's clearly wrong, stupid and a jerk, so there's no point reasoning with someone like that. He's lost you and he doesn't even realize that it means he'll be losing lots of people and lots of business. People like that, they don't really appreciate what they have so its easier for them to lose money and blame it on other people, which is what he'll probably keep on doing."

    She was very right with that assessment. Anyways, the end of the story as I see it is that I went in a week later to pick up my last paycheque. Zane wasn't there. Who was there? Why, none other than the vent cleaner.

  4. I walked into the kitchen and asked this dude how long he had been cleaning out the vents.

    "Oh man, like two hours now."

    "Is that particularly a long time?"

    "No, but I'm not even just halfway yet. Lots of work to do here man let me tell you. Are you the chef here or what?"

    "Well, I don't work here anymore."

    "Oh really? Well, you just leave recently?"

    "Yeah, I'm in to pick up my cheque. Let me tell you though, the reason I quit is because of how gross these vents were. Seriously, have you seen anything like that?"

    "How long has this place been open?"

    "Only about three months."

    "Three months!? Shit this vent looks like it hasn't been cleaned in like two years. Y'know its a really huge fire hazard right here and here."

    "You're telling me!"

    "Yeah, and since it's vented like this through the building, a small fire in here, the whole building would go down. The whole block would probably all get demolished."

    "Shit. Well, good thing you're here. Would you say that its a lot dirtier than most places you clean?"

    "Well, it sure is taking a lot longer. Just keeps on coming. I'd say its the dirtiest vent I've ever seen."


    "Yeah, I ain't seen dirtier than this in the twelve years I've done this."

    "Well, hope you have a good year."

    "Yeah, you too."

    I went up front to collect my cheque and have a fun chat with the bartender. I go back every once and a while: they have good beers and he's a cool guy (Peter, the bartender) but I don't eat the food. Hell, I hadn't eaten the food for almost the last month that I worked there: not since I'd gotten sick from eating one of their brisket sandwiches. Deli diarrhoea is not for me; having a puffer is bad enough without all those farts smelling like smoke.