Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Food Math.

There are 1,300 food establishments according to the T&G's Sunday story on food inspection in the City of Worcester.  They should be inspected twice a year, which equals 2,600 visits.  2,600 visits divided by three inspectors equals 866.67 visits per inspector per year.  866.67 visits divided by 52 weeks equals 16.67 visits per week.  16.67 visits per week divided by five work days equals 3.34 visits per day.

Are we supposed to believe that our food inspectors can't visit 4 restaurants a day over the course of a year?  Are they flooded by so much paperwork or other responsibilities that we can't have adequate bi-annual inspections?  Perhaps Part 2 of this story should involve Thomas Caywood and Andrew Veeder doing a ride along for a day with a Health Inspector.  The follow up certainly shouldn't be this fluff piece.
In a related story, This Week's Dumbest Comment on the T&G Website ended in a tie:
Suggested summer reading for 'T.E.A. partier' and 'Common Sense' is Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and just for fun, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.  Perhaps reading might change their viewpoint on 'big government' and laissez-faire policies.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I jinxed myself.

In a post the other day, I said I had never been solicited while downtown.

While on my way through the Common to the Irish Festival, I had a young woman ask me if I wanted methadone. (I declined. Methadone and Guiness don't mix well.)

I guess talking about my clean streak is just like talking about a perfect game as it happens.

Wheels To Water

The Worcester Wheels To Water Program will run from July 6th until August 15th.  (Apparently if you want to swim indoors before 7/6 or after 8/15, tough!)  The State beaches, pools, and City beaches will be open Monday-Friday after July 1st.

Here's when you can swim: 

10am-2pm @ Girls Inc.
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc. 
1pm-5pm @ WPI
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc.
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
3pm-6pm @ Central YMCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)

4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)THURSDAY:
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc. 
1pm-5pm @ WPI
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc.
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
3pm-8pm @ Central YMCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
7pm-9pm @ YWCA  (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
12:30pm-6pm Family Swim @ Central YMCA
2pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
4pm-7pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
10am-2pm Family Swim @ Central YMCA 

12pm-5pm Family Swim @ Girls Inc. (all adults must be accompanied by at least 1 child)
2pm-4pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)

A big thank you should be extended to the organizations that make this program possible.  It's certainly not as good as having neighborhood pools, and I hope in future years the City Council will actually listen to the voters and start rebuilding neighborhood pools.  The City Council should set the goal of refurbishing one neighborhood pool every year.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Speaking of good eats....

I had a mushroom, goat cheese and truffle oil pizza along with an order of homemade jalapeno poppers from Flats on the corner of Mayfield and Park.  Excellent stuff!  Great flavorful crust, tasty sauce, quality local ingredients, and a great slogan: 'Support Your Local Pie Hole.'  Best of all, they are open until 2:30AM.

The Corner Grille and The Wonder Bar now have some competition for my favorite pizza in Worcester.

I've never had a problem downtown. I've even had some good meals!

I never ate at the City Park Grille.  Two weeks after they opened, I read that the executive chef quit.  That's a major red flag that something's wrong, so I stayed away.  I wasn't surprised to see the business close- I was just surprised it happened so quickly.

There have been a few general theories kicking around about City Park Grille's demise:
1.  Downtown is a graveyard/wasteland.  Nothing succeeds downtown.
2.  Worcester is hostile to new enterprises, especially high end dining.
3.  It's the City Manager's/City Council's/Dual Tax Rate's fault.
4.  There wasn't any parking.
5.  It's the Curse of the Nipmucs.

I don't agree with any of these theories, although I am keeping an open mind about the Curse of the Nipmucs.  City Park Grille failed because they were supposedly paying $15,000 a month for rent.  If any business is going to succeed with that sort of rent, they need paying customers.  The only way to draw customers is with a great idea, and great execution (like the Armsby Abbey, Bocado, and 86 Winter which are within a few blocks of City Park Grille).  From everything I've heard, City Park Grille failed on both ends, much like McFadden's did before them.  If the food isn't good, people won't pay.  Rent doesn't get paid, and businesses close.  That's the reality of the food business, especially if the owner doesn't have the cash reserves to ride out the first year and improve the business.

I don't understand how the City Manager and City Council were liable for City Park Grille's demise.  They don't write private business plans.  It's not their job.  Should the City Council bail out any failing business on Main Street?  Should they advise them on how to properly run a restaurant?  Should they eat out at that business every day of the week to keep them in business?  Should they be out with flags and cones pointing potential diners to the large parking garage a half block away from City Park Grille?
Perhaps it's a matter of perception  (read the comments for more laughable ignorance.)  I go through downtown every day, whether I am on foot, bike or bus.  I've never witnessed a drug deal.  I've never been mugged.  I've never been solicited by a prostitute.  I've never been threatened.

I would love to see street vendors and performers downtown (how great would it be to have a Completo from Chris while sitting at a picnic table on a Saturday afternoon?).  I'd love to see businesses downtown, but I know that businesses will only go where there is profit.  As long as local people can't find good jobs for fair wages, downtown will suffer.  Until we fix Worcester's economy, schools, and housing, a better life and a better downtown will be a pipe dream away from fruition.