How about a side of flu virus with that creamed spinach? « blogging for burgers

How about a side of flu virus with that creamed spinach?

I’m not really one to comment about restaurant cleanliness and all of that.  Maybe it’s the complete desensitization from watching too much Anthony Bourdain or my generally cavalier attitude about trusting eating establishments (“if you build it and people come and they don’t come back because they either die or get sick, they won’t keep coming”).  And, for those of you who don’t know me, it is true that I will not eat off of my own stovetop, but I will eat food off of tables in restaurants.  And, yes, I realize that those two facts diametrically oppose one another.

But sick restaurant workers is something that I do not stand for.  I think I saw a waiter blow his nose one time while standing at the POS station and nearly flipped my shit; since I have a really calm and cool exterior, I did it on the inside and hopefully it will stay repressed and come out as a panic attack in about 15 years (while doing something REALLY stressful, like getting my car washed).  However, a new New York City proposition might make this a fact of the past, according to an article I saw today on the NRN website.

It looks like the New York City Council is looking to make those tougher-than-thou restaurant biz give some sick days and not have employees worry about paying the bills.  Of course, since this would obviously double the hourly pay costs when someone calls in sick, the restaurant lobbyists are against it in full force.  According to Rick Sampson of the New York State Restaurant Association (NYRSA), this would place undue burden on the restaurant industry, and that it’s “totally ri-donkey-dick-ulous” (my words, not his).

I have a few issues with this.  First of all, who the hell wants to be around sick people?  Sometimes I don’t even want to be around healthy people.  Secondly, who wants these sick people to be either a) cooking their food or b) serving their food or c) anywhere near their food.  Come on Rick, give me a break– next time you walk out of your office, wait on the street corner until someone visibly ill walks by and hug him/her.  Really get up in there nice and tight.  Then lick his/her hand.

That sounds disgusting?  Tell that to the line chef who has to come in to work with 104 fever and a nose running like a faucet just to keep his family fed.  Then have him make you a tuna melt.

Rick is quoted, “I don’t know how in this economy an industry such as ours can afford something like this.”  Again, come on, man, that’s just a dumb statement.  Last time I checked  I don’t know what Rick’s credentials are, maybe he is a brilliant businessman who just says stupid things.  In this economy when people are hyper-sensitive of where they are spending their money and health care is at the center of mass debate (MASS DEBATE, MASS DEBATE!  Get it?), I don’t think you can afford to NOT do this.  I mean, think about it this way: I open a restaurant and tout the fact that I give my employees paidsick days.  I make a HUGE deal of it.  People start wondering, “why is this guy telling me his restaurant gives its employees sick days?  That’s really weird.”  Then they realize that maybe some other restaurants don’t give their employees sick days.  All of a sudden, you are a slave driver and I am a saviour.  My restaurants go gangbusters, yours are in the hole.  Sure, maybe I have slightly higher fixed costs, but I’m a good guy.  People like eating in my restaurants.  My employees are happy and people feel good about eating there.  Maybe I charge a couple extra bucks for it, too, and buy myself a nice Ferrari.

I mean, let’s think of the worst possible scenario.  Line cook Joe comes into work, really not feeling well.  He was tossing and turning all night, and then felt nauseous all morning.  He goes to work anyway since he can’t afford to miss that day of pay.  He gets the whole work staff sick, and a few customers get sick also.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Adding some actual history, let’s go back to December, 2006.  Dinosaur BBQ, Syracuse, New York.  1,000 people get sick from the norovirus after eating at Dinosaur BBQ; the source of the virus is unknown, maybe it was a staff member, maybe it was a customer.  The restaurant closes for THREE days, and all of their food is thrown out AND they have to pay employees to sanitize the restaurant.  How much money do you think was lost there, Rick?  Step into 2009, homeboy– SWINE FLU is a-comin’, and cooking that bad boy low and slow doesn’t seem to make it any tastier.  Stop being so short-sighted, thinking only about today’s profits and failing to think about the long-term.

But wait, there’s more!  Rick’s not the only one against it– Robert Bookman has also gotten a sound bite out there.  He is the legislative counsel for the NYSRA, so he’s a lawyer or something, and he must be smart (right?).  He has said, “We don’t believe the city has the authority to pass such legislation… For one thing, the city has no enforcement mechanism. There is no city department of labor. Who is going to oversee this?”

Are you kidding me?  The NYC restaurant business has over 30 percent of its work force comprised of illegal immigrants, and you’re playing the labor enforcement card?  Is this some sort of fancy lawyer trick?  Or are you going to say, “of COURSE they don’t get sick days, they don’t even get rights!”


Anyway, I will go on record that I would pay one dollar more for my food if I knew that the guy preparing it wasn’t heaving in the bathroom prior to making my quesadilla.  I’m sure 100 other people would, too.  There’s Joe’s sick day right there.  If you can’t muster up 100 diners, you’ve got bigger problems.

And I’m done.

By the way, went to Grand Sichuan on 24th street tonight for dinner– tremendous.  Any semblance I had of a cold has been sichuan peppered out of my system.

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