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Steve R.

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About Steve R.

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 02/04/1953

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    Brooklyn, N.Y.

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  1. I absolutely understand your reluctance. However, our opinion is that, given how slowly our NYC government is proceeding, my guess is that the actual 1st day open will occur weeks after a risky 1st day would’ve been. DiBlasio is talking mid-June for phase 1, which probably means August (at least) before either of us will get to make this decision. I could write a dissertation on why I think this pace is wrong headed & disguises the lack of proactive measures the city could be taking to assist moving forward faster but safely. On a separate, but related, matter, at least NYC has now moved away from up & down arrows for each indicator & is using threshold lines.
  2. While we're guessing, I'll put in that I agree that behavior will move back to "normal" pretty quickly for most people, especially in big cities with small apartments like NYC. If my local fave Noodle Pudding re-opened, we'd be sitting at the bar eating dinner the first nite, the way we did on the last night it was open. Same with a couple of other local places (La Vara, Bklyn Heights Wine Bar, Henry's End...) that we've supported thru gofundme during this and that I wouldn't hesitate to return to almost immediately. And, in case anyone forgets who Ginny & I are, age wise, and how we've reacted, cautiousness-wise, during this plague, let me assure you that we're not in the "young & impulsive" category (old and idiotic?). However, I also think that many small restaurants (and maybe bars) will fail to re-open, as will many other small "entertainment" venues. That may not be a bad thing on several levels, not the least of which is that I really think that the market was way over saturated before this.
  3. Steve R.


    I actually liked the vertical line of a tie, especially when I had another aspect I wished to distract from. They also allowed me to have something a little more colorful and interesting to wear. Socks aren’t as visible.
  4. That's twice this week that I was "less than correct" (usually phrased as "wrong") on postings. Lucky for me, the other one was just Sneak gloating on my "notifications" button error. This one is more important. I looked at the new regs. and expanded benefits & it seems that you're correct that it could be advantageous in many/most cases for an average restaurant employee to be unemployed vs. being called back using PPP benefits. The federal supplement for unemployment is reported to be $600/week in "Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation". That's $15/hr for full time 40 hrs/week employees in addition to the state's regular benefit. And its for 39 weeks. At this amount, I'd guess that a kitchen staff or wait staff in a less than high end tip joint is doing better than when working. eta: cross posted with Orik.
  5. No disagreement with anything Orik has said on this. But, PPP is "useful", or could be, to many places. First of all, as Orik quoted, this particular place is using their previously paid staff as "volunteers", working only for tips (while probably collecting other government unemployment funds - that puts the "volunteer" at risk for a fraudulent claim & the employer at risk for less than minimum wage labor if they're not real stringent on how "volunteer" labor is legally defined). The PPP would put them back to work full time (which I assume is more income than unemployment) using a different pot of Federal funds & would give the business the opportunity to pay its rent as well. I'm sure it would also enable this place to put out more product for distribution. At any rate, no loss, only gain. Hey, maybe the owner herself can do something meaningful (or is already) & draw a salary under PPP. Secondly, a lot of local restaurants that I know of have tried to avoid total bankruptcy by at least trying to convert to a take out and delivery operation. The PPP would really help them expand this, maybe even allowing them to hire a couple of delivery (& even publicity) staff of their own and get rid of Grubhub, Caviar, Uber, Doordash and other delivery companies currently taking 30-60% of what the consumer pays. Thirdly, even the closed retail operations might be thrilled to have the opportunity to hire their employees back and figure out what the best use of them might be. For some, it might be increased production of inventory for future sales or expanded distribution. For others, it might simply be an opportunity for a limited opening to meet a community need without profit but without loss either.
  6. Some people are just so tone deaf &, more importantly, too inept to even take advantage of “free” (aka: taxpayer) money in a legal way.
  7. Exactly. And pay your landlord.
  8. I met him several times, once for a semi-private tour of the place where "we make your dreams come true". He was a very nice guy, proud of his family, his community and his renovations of an old stately property. This virus sucks!
  9. We mostly are of like minds. Since the government forced the shutdown (for very good reason, I might add), protecting business owners from personal liability and limiting it to the business itself, regardless of the contract signed, is probably the right thing to do. But, given that the federal government is probably not going to print up enough money to bail out everyone at every level, priorities need to be set. It seems to me that everyone is willing to, in practice (not in theory), throw the folks who worked in the kitchens and front of house overboard so that "the business" can survive &/or the business owner(s) can keep their "earned" money. I don't expect everyone to be a Jose Andres or even a Michael Bloomberg, but some introspection and context in their presentation would go a long way with me (like they care). This evening, the owner of Li-lac Chocolates, a company I've liked since Bleeker St days & enjoyed seeing headquartered at Industry City, made much the same pitch on a NY 1 interview to "save his business" by allowing for something other than the current PPP regs. for him to get his "loan" forgiven. He didn't think it best to rehire all 60 employees for 8 weeks and show that 75% of the "loan" went to payroll in order for it to be forgiven. And all I could think of was "ingrate". Sure, he might have to re-think how to offload the inventory these folks would produce for him with his stores all closed, but he'd be getting a free payroll, 25% free other money & the extra product to sell. Not as good as just giving it to him and singing "happy birthday" but pretty fucking nice, considering those that haven't yet gotten a damn thing, free or loaned. Another company I won't be patronizing afterwards.
  10. Workers can be assholes too. Overall, I worry more about the folks whose resources give them more way more assholery potential. My mother could sound like Trump. She couldn't do as much damage.
  11. Yeah, I get that. I have several friends who have stand alone restaurant businesses with large overhead. And, maybe they have mega corporation or hedge fund landlords that I can re-label "rent extractors". It does conjure up some really bad feelings to think that these friends might lose their personal shirts because of something they have no control over and is being enforced by the government. But, I really don't know if Stulman's corp. isn't wealthier than any/all of his landlords (he has 9 upscale restaurants in the corp. that he's CEO of and a W.Village landlord may well own 1 well placed building for a very long time). But, let's assume that the building owner is bigger and wealthier than "Happy Cooking Hospitality" (Stulman's corp.)... 1- why does he think it supportable to do the same thing to his employees that he doesn't want the landlord to do to him; that is, get the ground rules to allow him to not pay his workers and use earmarked federal PPP dollars for his business needs instead of payroll? Why is he, the middle person, obviously more worthy than those both below and above him? 2- why does he think that his personal wealth, which he voluntarily put on the line by signing the lease guarantees, should be exempt from this, but that his employees personal wealth should be used while unemployed and his landlords' wealth should be used to make up for lost expected income? 3- since no one is being evicted here, shouldn't we expect that he (the Corporation) do everything possible to keep each individual restaurant in business and have the corporation first use other means to pay its payroll & debts? An Eater article describes 3 of his landlords agreeing to "work with him" on some compromise solution. Gee, maybe its time to agree to sell a 50% partnership in what will be, down the road, a resumed lucrative restaurant (& restaurant corporation) or max out small business loans from other sources? Maybe government bail-out funds are more important to others who don't have the resources I'll bet he does. 4- as for the personal wealth issue, if he is going to do P.R. and explain that his restaurants operated on "single digit profits" in good times (which he said), maybe he should be somewhat transparent on these restaurants' spreadsheets. So, was the profit margin so slim that he, and a bunch of others, could only take moderate salaries, or was the slim profit margin because of other factors? I've worked with many "non profits" (that, by definition, means a less than single digit profit equal to 0%) whose Admin structure made sure that quite a few highly placed individuals "earned" very large amounts in various ways -- all calculated before "profit". Is his personal wealth tied to that -- of course it is (& should be). So... how much has the corporation been paying its CEO & others and how much might they be still paying them during this pandemic so far, while laying off workers and not paying bills to landlords and others? Just wondering what his salary has been in the last several months, if the corp. still had some "single digit profit" savings in the account. Maybe he's better than that but, before he tugs on my heart strings, its his job to show me if he wants support. For me, he's leaving too much unsaid, while picking exactly what to say. Everyone wants to be the victim. I choose which to use my moderate means to support carefully.
  12. Okay, so I'm clearly not the finance person on this board, but I listen and try to understand what seems to be a foreign language to me. At any rate, on MSNBC this morning (Stephanie Ruhle's hour), Gabriel Stulman spent some time talking about the restaurant industry. A lot of what he said made sense to me (like the idea that the restaurant industry should be separated out as a specific category, the way the airline industry has been, and specific measures taken to assist), but there were a couple of things that I really wondered about and worry that he (& probably others in his peer group) don't get (or don't want to get). The first was the federal PPP, which he wanted amended (no talk about him giving back anything even though he owns 9 places as CEO of a company and isn't exactly a "small" business compared to a lot of others). A close paraphrase of what he said was that keeping his employees on for the 8 weeks while the restaurants were closed was not an effective use of the funds and that there were other things that would better keep these businesses solvent. So... my question to youse financial guys is this: isn't he (intentionally?!) confusing the purpose of these specific funds, which I didn't think was to help businesses (his or others) in general, but to specifically keep folks on payroll (that's what the first "P" is for, right: "payroll"?). Is this not the case? What am I missing? The second thing I wondered about was his disclosure that most of his leases required a personal guarantee and that, if he wants out of any, he is personally responsible for paying the landlord for 3-6 months rent (depending on the lease he signed) and losing his security deposit. He questioned this, saying "isn't it enough that the business goes bankrupt... should they be able to come after my house, etc too" (paraphrase). I was left wondering why not, since those were the leases he signed. Sure, he didn't foresee a pandemic & having all 9 closed, but the landlords (god help me, I'm not one to generally side with landlords) didn't foresee 9 bankrupt restaurants leaving vacant storefronts with no way to re-rent them either. Given the restaurant industry's known insecurity in good times, wasn't this clause a good idea for the building owners and saying "let my personal wealth go untouched even though I personally guaranteed the rent" just passing the buck elsewhere? Wasn't this lease entered into "eyes wide open"? I mean, isn't it possible that at least a couple of the landlords are actually less wealthy and unable to absorb the loss, even in the West Village? Maybe this would be a good time to sell shares in his places and reorganize (maybe at 25% on the dollar) to keep afloat and stop whining that he's the only one suffering? I guess that I just think that some "celebrity chefs", like other "celebrity" categories (athletes, entertainers) seem to come off as very "entitled" & more worthy of protection than those without such amazing talent, who have to actually wait on the tables or work the box office. Or, on the other side of life, more protection than the banks and landlords they worked with to hopefully make their fortunes.
  13. Steve R.


    We still miss them from Atlantic Ave.
  14. Well, actually, no. I knew there are other brands that, supposedly, would be compatible & do this. However, I didn’t see Apple has one. Thanks.
  15. And it would've happened. Our iMac fried last year with no warning at all. Lucky the Cloud had most of our important stuff. This new one is faster, but I miss the CD player/burner slot on the side.
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