‘Greed is Good,’ right, John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO & Jeff Bezos, Amazon Chairman? 9+ year veteran, 72-year-old employee denied severance after Whole Foods in Brookline, MA abruptly closes. #DoTheRightThing #PayTheSeverance

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 6/25/2022

Early on Friday morning, April 29, I walked over to ‘The (St. Mary’s) Village’ to visit Whole Foods, an almost daily ritual. Immediately upon entry, a worker came over and whispered, “Hey, they just told us the store is closing.” A regional VP had gathered the staff and informed them moments before that May 6th was the last day. The landlord was informed the same day. The staff was told that even long-time, veteran employees would have to reapply for jobs at other WF stores, and more details were forthcoming from HR. Naturally, I tweeted:

The next day, everything in the store was sold at 50% off. Despite the rabid frenzy (shitshow), there was no ‘hazard pay’ for the staff. And after the store was picked clean over the weekend, they shut down for good on Monday, May 2nd, 4 days ahead of schedule…

After first hearing the news, I walked the aisles of the store on Friday–the abrupt closure was raw, still being absorbed the staff. The emotion in their eyes, and tears on the familiar faces of several people I had come to know, precipitated a very anxious and somber mood.

Whole Foods issued a statement quoted in an article in the Boston Globe on April 29 by Annie Probert:

“As we continue to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores, and we have made the difficult decision to close six stores,” a statement from the company read. “We are supporting impacted team members through this transition and expect that all interested, eligible team members will find positions at our other locations.”

One of the staff members I often chatted with was Ken Scales. Ken often saw me with an elderly (sometimes feisty/demanding) neighbor he took a liking to. “How’s our girl?” he’d ask when he didn’t see her as the plague raged. Despite his cordial engagement, Ken was a quiet, shy guy, head down, and conscientious, steady worker.

According to Sean P. Murphy for the Boston Globe on June 22, Ken (part-time employee) said “he didn’t realize he would forfeit a payout by agreeing to work through June at another location.” And he did, at the Whole Foods Symphony/’Fenway’ location.

From the Globe piece:

At age 72, Scales said he still needed to work to pay the bills, so he moved to a similar position at another Whole Foods store a few miles away.

But then some friends suggested he had made a mistake. They told him he should have left his position at Whole Foods and taken the $11,000 in severance pay that he was owed after almost 10 years on the job, Scales said.

Stocking shelves pays about $20 an hour. At that rate of pay, the severance package he had been offered was the equivalent of about six months of pay. For the first time in his adult life, Scales could have enjoyed an extended period of time off without losing income.

Plus, because of the high demand for low-wage workers in today’s economy, Scales could have easily found another job for similar pay whenever he wanted, his friends said.

Persuaded he had made a mistake, Scales asked Whole Foods to let him leave his job and take the severance. At that point, Whole Foods had not yet formally eliminated Scales’ Brookline position.

But Whole Foods, owned by Amazon, one of the world’s richest corporations, said no. By accepting a part-time job at another store, Scales had forfeited his right to leave the company with severance pay. The store treated his choice as irrevocable, he said.

Scales said he has been a good, reliable worker. His manager at the Brookline store thought highly enough of him to recommend him to the Whole Foods Market Symphony store in the Fenway, where he wound up.

“I was counting on that severance payment to help me regroup, pay down some bills, and to decide what I want to do next,” he wrote in an appeal for reconsideration to Whole Foods. 

The appeal was denied. I called Whole Foods Symphony/’Fenway’ this morning and spoke to a manager (Matt) informing him that I was writing this blog post, and asked if WF had an updated statement. He referred me to corporate…

[I encourage you to read the entire Globe piece for more detail.]

Globe reporter, Sean P. Murphy adds:

Scales has worked all his life, mostly in unglamorous positions at retail stores. He gets a modest monthly Social Security check and lives in a tiny apartment in Chinatown. He’s not asking for much.

It would be nice if Whole Foods could see its way to giving this guy a break. It’s not too late.

Amen.

I was chatting with a worker a few doors down from the now-closed Whole Foods about the awful PR, negative word-of-mouth/’bad will’ being generated from this story. In addition to the adverse impact on ‘team’ morale of existing employees, he added, “And what about the impact of this story on all of the people thinking about working for Whole Foods or Amazon?!?” Yup, not optimal recruiting material, or consistent with WF stated ‘Long-Term Thinking’ …

From the Whole Foods website:

In addition, Whole Foods has years left on their Brookline, MA lease and is seeking a tenant to sub-lease the space. Their abrupt closure left a significant void in ‘The Village,’ that was already dealing with multiple vacancies on the block. The closure, without a transition plan and replacement grocer, did not sit well with neighboring businesses and residents. This story about a veteran employee has punctuated that rancor.

When I first saw the online story from the Globe on twitter via @markpothier, I responded:

Since then, I’ve reviewed the Whole Foods website and incorporated some of their “Core Values,” “Leadership Principles,” and “Declaration of Interdependence” into a Twitter appeal for Whole Foods to pay the severance for Ken Scales:

That was in response to this tweet from @blueeyedgirl:

“Us versus them.”

Final Thoughts (WF Website):

Our Declaration of Interdependence reflects the hopes and intentions of many people. We do not believe it always accurately portrays the way things currently are at Whole Foods Market so much as the way we would like things to be. It is our dissatisfaction with the current reality, when compared with what is possible, that spurs us toward excellence and toward creating a better person, company and world. When Whole Foods Market fails to measure up to its stated vision, as it inevitably will at times, we should not despair. Rather let us take up the challenge together to bring our reality closer to our vision. The future we will experience tomorrow is created one step at a time today.

John Mackey, Whole Foods and Jeff Bezos, Amazon, take up the challenge, #PayTheSeverance.

If you agree, please help spread the word to your network. Thank you.

PS-Join the battle/challenge on twitter @PatrickMBoston.

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Walking Boston-A Marathon in Every Neighborhood #ServerNotServant

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 6/3/2022

This blog post marks the official launch of Walking Boston-A Marathon in Every Neighborhood #ServerNotServant. There is so much more to explore and discover, even ‘in our own back yards.’ And walking is one of the best ways to do it. The purpose, vision, and missions of Walking Boston:

  1. Explore and showcase Boston’s neighborhoods by walking deep into every one of them, sharing pics and experiences along the way, while raising money for local, Boston non-profits.
  2. Raise awareness for my Server Not Servant book in progress advocating for service industry workers and ‘service’ to our fellow humans.
  3. Find a publisher and sign a contract to finish the book that this website/blog is dedicated to.
  4. Meeting great humans. Learning more about Boston and having some fun along the way.
  5. Health benefits.

Over 3 days of Memorial Day Weekend 2022, I was ‘On the Road’ for 12.5 hours on Saturday, 6 hours Sunday, and 4 hours on Monday, totaling 22+ hours. The weekend goal was to set foot in (and take pics of) all 24 Boston Neighborhoods as a catalyst to launch the project and ‘get moving.’ I was hoping to complete the task in one day, but after 12+ hours and 16 neighborhoods on Saturday, realized I needed more time…

This link to a Google Photo album includes 229 pics/videos that I took of my weekend adventure beginning at 5:57am on Saturday, ending on Monday after covering Allston and Brighton. The photo album is in chronological order, reflecting the travel through each neighborhood. Some of my pics from the album are also featured within this blog post and on both sides. I estimate that I covered about 18+ miles walking over the 3 days. Initially, I activated the ‘MapMyWalk’ app on my phone, but it was using up too much of the battery, so I shut it down. I plan on using Garmin to record the neighborhood walks.

Grass roots financial support for this project and publication of the Server Not Servant book will include individual contributions via Venmo @Patrick-Maguire-32 and PayPal on the upper, right-hand side of this blog, ‘Support Server Not Servant’ in the blue box. I’m also seeking business sponsors for both projects, walking and publication of the book. Please contact me if you or anyone you know might be interested in collaborating.

Email: patrick@servernotservant.com. Twitter & IG: @PatrickMBoston

‘Fun’ Facts & Trivia about this project:

  • Walking 24 marathons may seem like a lot of miles, but my initial plan was to walk every street in every neighborhood of Boston. Then I did the math… (There are approximately 785 miles of roads in Boston maintained by the Boston Transportation Dept.)
  • I don’t own a car, so getting to the starting point for each walk will usually include riding the T. During Memorial Day Weekend, in addition to walking, transportation included subways, busses, and water taxis (from Eastie to Charlestown and from the North End to the Seaport).
  • The walks in each neighborhood will consist of at least a half marathon per day and will be verified using a Garmin tracker. Some neighborhoods, like Chinatown, North End, and the West End might only require a half marathon to walk every street. Others, like DOT, Mattapan, and Southie will have more roads than a full marathon will cover, but I’ll map out the best strategy to cover as much as possible during the 26.2+ miles.
  • Urban treks include lots of conveniences, stores for water and snacks, bars for a cheeky beverage and a bathroom, but they also include lots of temptations that aren’t ‘on the program,’ like slices of pizza… I’ll pack some healthy snacks for the neighborhood walks.
  • Inspirations include George Plimpton, participatory journalist, including goaltending with the Boston Bruins.
  • I purchased an Anker mobile charger before the weekend. I was very impressed with how long it held a charge. It lasted the entire 12+ hour day on Saturday, and still had some juice left at the end.
  • There will be a blog post following completion of the walks in each neighborhood, including Garmin tracking proving distance, photo albums, and adventures along the way. The pics from each walk will include people and more of the ‘character’ of each neighborhood than the Memorial Day Weekend album.
  • Start date goal is August 1.
  • Most of the walks will be open to anyone who wants to join me and share their pics and experiences along the way. Hello, WCVB Chronicle…….

Checklist before walking first neighborhood:

  • Finalize local non-profit(s) and a mechanism to track $$ inspired by #WalkingBoston. Set and publish goals. Recommendations for non-profits welcome. I’m looking for Boston-based w/low ‘admin’ components that all neighborhoods benefit from. Service industry related? [Launch my own?]
  • Clarify # and description/title of Boston Neighborhoods. City of Boston websites have different numbers and labels. Examples, Chinatown + Leather District are combined, ‘Wharf District,’ ‘Mid-Dorchester,’ and ‘Longwood Medical,’ and Seaport/South Boston Waterfront all need to be considered.
  • Finalize and ‘test drive’ Garmin tracking and sharing.
  • Confirm that Google Photos is the right pic/video sharing app, non-invasive and user-friendly. Ideas welcome.
  • Create YouTube platform and tighten up all social media apps.
  • Maps to plan walks, and post pics of them. BPL in each neighborhood?
  • Boston-based footwear sponsor.
  • Research WHOOP involvement to track health benefits.
  • Media networking/promotions.
  • Vest for walking to store snacks, phone charger, etc.
  • Invite guest walkers, even for portions of each walk.
  • Keep running total of verified miles walked and hours ‘on the road.’
  • Start photo albums of humans and animals seen on the walks and keep adding to them.
  • Research all Boston Walking related sites and groups to include and network with.
  • Research drone photographers and potential involvement.
  • Include links to non-profits in each neighborhood in blog posts.
  • Consider a portion of each walk at night down ‘main street?’
  • Include bullets of “Thoughts while walking in ________” in each blog post.
  • Interview people along the way and ask what they think of the neighborhood, how long they’ve lived there, etc. Finalize questions and method of recording.
  • Find “Welcome to _____” sign for each neighborhood and include pics in albums.
  • Consider additional walks covering Boston Harbor islands, parks, and around bodies of water.
  • Finalize the next chapter/challenge…

Thank you for following, supporting, and sharing the journey. Grateful-Patrick Maguire

PS-Be sure to check out the Google Photo album w/229 pics + videos in the order I took them.

 

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‘United’ States Senate Fails to Support Independent, American, #MomAndPop, Neighborhood #Restaurants and #SmallBiz. #ReviveRRF #ReplenishRRF

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 5/22/2022

Restaurants are often the first to step up, feed, and support their communities by volunteering their staff, time, effort, energy, food, drink, gift certificates, enthusiasm, labor, and money to help their neighbors in need ALL YEAR LONG.  The requests of restaurants and small business to donate are relentless, and many are happy to do what they can. And when it came time to save the same charitable entities, American ‘leaders’ walked away…

The ‘United’ States Senate voted and failed to take action to save 177,300 independent, Mom & Pop, neighborhood restaurants and small businesses in America on May 19, 2022. Historically, ‘we’ have ‘bailed out’ big insurance companies, big banks, the big auto and airline industries, to name a few. on 5/19, ‘we’ completely failed to recognize the importance of restaurants and small businesses to our communities and our economy. They are a critical part of the fabric and soul of our neighborhoods, and the American Government insultingly failed them during a moment of truth in the Senate. Don’t tell me, “We’re (America) better than this,” we’re not. This is who/where ‘we’ are as a country, and it’s disgusting.

177,300 independent restaurants were notified that they were approved to receive the same, life-saving federal grants that 100k+ of their peers received. Some of those 100k+ restaurant groups and entities received up to $10 million, and the remaining, eligible restaurants got absolutely NOTHING!! The stupidity and inequity in that is stunning. We were only asking for fairness, to level the ‘playing field’ for all restaurants and small businesses to allow them to pay back their staggering bills/debts and give them a fighting chance to survive!!

Partisanship, and the tribal, divisive preoccupation with party ‘power,’ instead of collaboratively initiating and driving an agenda to actually help serve, protect, defend, and advocate for an equitable, improved quality of life for the American people, has undermined, paralyzed, and destroyed ‘our’ once ‘great’ American Democracy. And it’s absolutely disgraceful…

I posted the following on Twitter on July 12, 2021 after Round 1 of funding of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants dried up: “Whether your restaurant received a #RRF grant or not, every independent #restaurant in #America should be furious + engaged until every eligible restaurant is funded. Use every platform u have to spread the word. This IS life or death 4 many. #ReplenishRRF” 

Attachment 1 to TweetSNS Blog Post:

President Biden & Congress: URGENT Request to Replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund-Support ALL Eligible Independent Restaurants & Bars NOW!!! #ReplenishRRF

Attachment 2 to Tweet:

Full Service Restaurant Magazine, May 19,2022:

“The original RRF received requests for more than $75 billion in funding. On average, restaurants asked for grants of roughly $207,000.

According to data released by the SBA, there were 72,568 “priority” applicants, roughly 72 percent, who received relief totaling $17,965,827,472.09. In all, less than a third of the largest grants went to prioritization groups and less than 10 percent went to non-priority businesses.

The SBA said 10,155 franchise locations received $2,649,675,046.00; six Hilton Hotel subsidiary locations collected $21,178,445.07; five Wyndham Hotel subsidiary locations took home $2,937,875.87; 85,406 businesses from urban areas received relief; and 15,598 businesses from rural areas received relief.

Nearly 70 entities received the RRF’s top draw—$10 million, including 15 wedding venues and caterers, eight airport and sports venue concessions companies, franchises from the quick-service industry’s largest brands, including Panera Bread and McDonald’s. Multiple events spaces and airport concession companies, as well as franchisees of Dunkin’, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chuck E. Cheese, Five Guys, and Jimmy John’s, collected grants within the $5 million to $10 million range.”

And 177,300 eligible restaurants and small businesses got NOTHING!!

Instead of distributing the total amount of funding between all of the approved, eligible entities, ‘The Greatest Country in the World” gave all of the money to approximately 1/3 of those approved and abandoned the rest. “Don’t worry, this is America, we’ll do the right thing,” many of us thought. But NOOOOO…… America is broken.

On April 14, 2022, after the Senate failed, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) posted this on Twitter @IndpRestaurants:

Shortly after the Senate vote, IRC released the following statement:

Independent Restaurant Coalition Estimates Over 50% of Restaurants Could Close After Senate Fails to Pass Funding for Restaurant Revitalization Fund in 52 to 43 Vote

Independent Restaurants React to Senate Vote: “Local restaurants expected help and the Senate couldn’t finish the job” 

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) today reacted to the Senate’s failure to pass The Small Business COVID Relief Act (S.4008), sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), which would have replenished the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) with $40 billion. The vote total was 52 to 43.

“Local restaurants across the country expected help but the Senate couldn’t finish the job,” said Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “Neighborhood restaurants nationwide have held out hope for this program, selling their homes, cashing out retirement funds, or taking personal loans in an effort to keep their employees working and their doors open. We estimate more than half of the 177,300 restaurants waiting for an RRF grant will close in the next few months as a result of Congressional inaction.”

Polmar continued: “The IRC was born out of the first and darkest days of the pandemic. Independent restaurants came together to create a strong collective voice. For two years that voice has spoken forcefully and effectively, advocating for relief. Now that same voice will fight for the issues critical to independent restaurants and will remain engaged in Washington, DC and local communities. And make no mistake, we will keep fighting for a sustainable future for independent restaurateurs, their employees, and the communities they support. We remain grateful to the elected officials and their staffs who have worked tirelessly for independent restaurants, including Majority Leader Schumer, Sens. Wicker, Cardin, and Sinema, Speaker Pelosi and Representatives Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick. There would be no Restaurant Revitalization Fund without their efforts and they will continue to be outspoken champions for neighborhood restaurants in Congress.”

At least 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the beginning of the pandemic. Almost 300,000 restaurants applied for RFF grants in 2021, but nearly 200,000 restaurants did not receive funding – 52% of which reported that they are on the verge of permanent closure if the RRF is not replenished. Ninety senators voted to create what became the Restaurant Revitalization Fund last February.

Earlier this week, ChowNow, Toast, and over twenty other businesses and trade associations penned an industry letter urging Congress to act quickly so that the tens of thousands of independent restaurants that did not receive relief could keep their doors open. The group of businesses and trade associations warned Congress that as many as four in five restaurants and bars are in danger of closing permanently, threatening the livelihoods of farmers, bakers, and thousands of employees.

The House of Representatives passed the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act (H.R. 3807) with a bipartisan vote in April which would have provided an additional $42 billion to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

A recent IRC survey of nearly 1,200 members of the independent restaurant and bar community in all 50 states found that more than half of businesses that did not get RRF grants will close within six months. The data also found that 49% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants were forced to lay off workers because of the Omicron surge compared to 33% of businesses that received RRF grants.

42% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants are in danger of filing for or have filed for bankruptcy, compared to just 20% that received RRF grants.
28% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants have received or are anticipating receiving an eviction notice compared to just 10% that received RRF grants.
Restaurant and bar owners who did not receive an RRF grant are taking on more personal debt. 41% of people that did not receive RRF reported taking out new personal loans to support their businesses since February of 2020. This is only true for 19% of businesses that received an RRF grant.
46% of businesses reported that their operating hours were impacted for more than 10 days in December 2021.
58% of businesses reported that their sales decreased by more than half in December 2021.
Full results of the survey can be found here.

 

ABOUT THE IRC:

The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners across the country who have built a grassroots movement to secure vital protections for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants and the more than 11 million restaurant and bar workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Restaurant Business Magazine, May 19, 2022:

SENATE SHOOTS DOWN BILL TO REPLENISH RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND

The bill could not muster enough votes to get past a filibuster despite bipartisan support, effectively killing the legislation. By Jonathan Maze on May 19, 2022

“The U.S. Senate on Thursday ended the possibility of replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund when a $48 billion bill to provide relief to small businesses hit by COVID restrictions could not generate enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

The bill would have added $40 billion to the RRF, which would have provided enough funding for some 177,000 restaurants that thought they’d receive aid last year but could not when the original fund ran out.”

National Restaurant Association May 19, 2022:

Hopes of Replenishing RRF Dashed by Senate
National Restaurant Association Statement on Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 vote

“Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Senate failed to advance the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (S. 4008), ending the possibility of replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The vote is a devastating blow to the restaurant industry and small business operators.

“Throughout the pandemic, restaurants focused on serving their communities. When government-mandated closures shuttered dining rooms, restaurants found a way to shift operating models and keep employees on the payroll. When first responders needed a hot meal, restaurants stepped in to help in cities and towns across the country,” said Michelle Korsmo, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “When Congress offered these restaurants the RRF lifeline, restaurant owners and operators made business decisions based on those commitments. Restaurants that are still trying to make up for what was lost in the pandemic today are struggling with workforce shortages, record-high inflation, and supply chain constraints. Today’s vote will further exacerbate those challenges and result in more economic hardships for the families and communities across the country that rely on the restaurant and foodservice industry.”

“Today, a Senate filibuster dashed the promise made to more than 177,000 small business owners in communities across the country” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “These restaurant owners believed the creation of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was a down payment, and that the Senate would complete the mission with this vote. A bipartisan majority voted to begin debate on this critical legislation, but it wasn’t the 60 votes needed. While there are valid questions about government spending and inflation, restaurants should not be caught in the crossfire. We applaud the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as well as Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for their work in creating and pressing to replenish the RRF.”

The $48 billion Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (S. 4008), introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), included $40 billion for RRF replenishment and $8 billion in support for other industries deeply impacted by the pandemic. The House passed the Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 (H.R. 3807), that included $42 billion to replenish the RRF, on April 7. Both political parties agreed that the RRF should be replenished but couldn’t reach a consensus on how to pay for it. Democrats generally wanted to treat replenishment as emergency spending, while Republicans generally wanted existing funds reallocated.

The American Rescue Plan established the RRF with $28.6 billion that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) called a down payment to restaurants. More than 278,000 restaurants applied for funds from the RRF, but only 101,000 applications were funded before the Small Business Administration ran out of funding. By leaving 177,000 without aid, the Federal government essentially picked winners and losers, among direct competitors, based on chance, not need.

The program’s initial round of funding, which operators used primarily to pay off debt and meet payroll, was a resounding success. According to Association research(Opens in a new window), more than 900,000 restaurant jobs were saved, and 96% of recipients report that the funds helped their establishments remain open.

But those that did not receive funds are still languishing. In fact, 62% of operators says their restaurant accumulated additional debt since the beginning of the pandemic; 57% said their restaurant fell behind on expenses. Industry-wide, eating and drinking establishments lost $300 billion in sales the first year of the pandemic.

Even though the restaurant industry appears to be recovering from a consumer spending perspective, for restaurants, most of which operate on 3-5% pre-tax profit margins, the challenges continue to mount. Soaring food prices, supply chain constraints, and workforce shortages make it impossible for many restaurants to pay off debt that was accumulated during the pandemic.”

There is some quiet, distant chatter about ‘Budget Reconciliation’ reviving the chances of funding the eligible, but abandoned American restaurants and small businesses. Don’t hold your breath, our ‘leaders’ are too busy to care, ripping each other to shreds in the pursuit of ‘tribal’ power…

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Common Craft: Beer Bars, Wine Room, ‘Speakeasy’ Cocktail Bar, & Bistro in Burlington, Massachusetts

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 3/4/2022

Pivoting from advocating for service industry workers to promote Common Craft, a very cool, new concept opening in my old hometown. I’m proud to announce that there’s an awesome project supporting independent, small business, on the way to Burlington, MA, within Burlington Mall.

In a world of Pandemic Pivots, repurposing mall spaces has hastened considerably. Simon Property Group (owner of Burlington Mall) has been proactive, creative, and aggressive with their strategic planning. They are known for creating “experiential-centric” destinations, including ‘Lifestyle Centers’ across America. Including Common Craft is consistent with Simon’s stated intention of “aggressively pursuing high-quality tenants to populate the new facilities which are intended to appeal to the retail market.” [Simon letter to Burlington Planning Board-Burlington Patch May 4, 2018]

“We’re a company of experiences and therefore perfectly positioned to capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of our shoppers with new, exciting and dynamic ways to live, work, play, stay and shop at Simon,” David Simon, chairman & CEO of Simon Property Group –Commercial Property Executive May 18, 2018

The Common Craft space is adjacent to some of the Lifestyle Center space that is part of the new construction. However, Common Craft is a stand-alone, self-contained entity with 4, uniquely branded rooms (2 beer, 1 wine, and 1 full liquor) with a separate entrance. It is not part of a Food Hall or a Beer Hall, like Harpoon in Boston, MA.

I recently visited Deacon Giles in Salem, MA and Idle Hands in Malden, MA, enjoyed their libations, met the owners, and toured their shops. I also communicated with the owners/principals at Vineyard Road and Hermit Thrush. They all welcome the opportunity to speak with media and welcome you to their facilities. I’m also happy to make introductions to the folks at Simon Property Group for comment.

‘Common Craft’ is a celebration of similar, independent artisans who excel at their craft. When I met with Larry Leibowitz and toured his vision in progress, I was intrigued and impressed with his mission of collaborating with, and promoting, independent, small brands that share a common craft. The craft being celebrated at the mall is craft beverages, beer, wine, and spirits from small, independent producers. Many of us champion the #BuyLocal #MomAndPop #SmallBiz ‘Support the Underdog’ mantras. Common Craft will allow us to live that, and to have some fun at the same time. Please share this post with any of your colleagues who may be interested in researching and broadcasting this local story.

Press Release

Boston, MA March 25, 2022

Common Craft, a first of its kind Craft Beverage & Bistro Experience Opening in Burlington, MA Spring 2022

   Craft Beer Bars, Wine Bar, Speakeasy & Bistro Dining Under 1 Roof

Media Contact: Maguire PR & Promotions Email: patrick@servernotservant.com

We’re thrilled to officially announce that something innovative and dynamic is coming to Burlington Mall, taking the tap room concept to the next level. Common Craft is the first venue of its kind where guests can experience multiple, branded beverage concepts collaborating under one roof. When you visit Common Craft, you step into a carefully curated and rotating selection of hospitality experiences without ever leaving the building.

The industrial warehouse design features approximately 9,000 sq. ft. of beverage and dining choices in four uniquely designed and branded rooms. Common Craft will be the first to feature special brews, spirits, wines, limited time offers, and seasonal exclusives from select, independent producers. Upon arrival, guests will notice the cavernous ceilings, exposed brick walls, and iron beam trusses. They are encouraged to meander through the great hall filled with seating, live greenery, choices of craft beverages, entertainment, and food.

Local MA and New England branded rooms at Common Craft will include innovative, award-winning Idle Hands Craft Ales (Malden, MA), which will play host to a beer hall style room featuring a wide selection of craft beer. “Belgian beer dates back to the Middle Ages when it was only produced in monasteries. Over 500 years and 500 beers later, the depth and breadth of Belgian beers is tremendous with most of the popular styles and brands still brewed in Belgium. Today, Belgian beers are frequently paired with a variety of food offerings to complement and enhance the flavors of both.” -Idle Hands

“We are very excited to partner with Common Craft to open a location in Burlington Mall. The Common Craft team is doing an awesome job envisioning what an Idle Hands satellite taproom would look like, taking cues from our home in Malden. It truly will be a home away from home for us. We are just thrilled to have another location that we can do fun things with, including another Oktoberfest, unique releases, and food/beer focused events. The sky is the limit!” -Christopher Tkach, Founder & President Idle Hands

Hermit Thrush (Brattleboro, VT) craft beer bar will highlight their collection of signature sour beers using only local yeast. “Fermenting since 2014 with only wild Brattleboro mixed culture yeast. continually pushing boundaries of new sour beer. Brewhouse fueled by wood, not fossils. To truly understand terroir and wild yeast, a brewer must come to terms with the type of beer that “wants to be made” in their region. We are proud of Brattleboro’s wild yeast for its balance, its stone fruit and pecan character, and how dry and effervescent it leaves the beer. We are grateful to our region’s farms for the availability of world class hops and fruits, as well as to our area distilleries for unique and beautiful oak barrel flavor histories.” -Hermit Thrush

Deacon Giles Distillery (Salem, MA) adds the energy, feel, and enthusiasm of their winning ‘speakeasy’ concept, complete with dim lighting, plush seating, and award-winning craft cocktail menu. Their Dry Gin, Spiced Rum, Amber Rum, and Vodka have been very popular in Salem and beyond since 2015. “All of us at Deacon Giles are excited to be partnering with Common Craft in opening such a great community space that brings together an impressive lineup of quality, local craft-beverage producers, and a kitchen, to elevate the guest experience under one roof.” -Ian Hunter and Jesse Brenneman, Co-founders, Deacon Giles Distillery #DamnRighteousSpirits

Wine geeks and casual fans alike will love with élevage Wine Room – a curated selection of boutique wine producers from around the globe, highlighting specific themes and craft vintners. Massachusetts-based importer and distributor, Vineyard Road, will be sourcing the wines, specializing in small production and artisanal producers. “We look to find talented growers who are committed to making real, honest, and above all, delicious wines.” -Vineyard Road #TruthInWine

Outside patio space will double as a lounge and game area and will be the home of seasonal events like Oktoberfest, Rosé all Day, Tiki Summer Nights, and live music. A large projector screen will also treat guests to important sporting events, classic movies, and retro cartoons.

Common Craft guests are encouraged to share and pair items from the food menu with beverages from the four craft beverage partners. The approachable menu, offered throughout the entire space, will feature creative, upscale twists on gastropub classics-heavy on appetizers, starters, and snacks, in addition to salads, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees. Ingredient sourcing will weigh heavily on local and small producers, as well as products from the producers at Common Craft that will double as ingredients within many menu items.

Upon leaving Common Craft, guests can visit a separate retail bottle shop where they can purchase packaged beer, wine, and souvenirs from the featured producers, with items exclusive to the Burlington location.

Adjacent to Common Craft’s patio, guests will enjoy Burlington Mall’s new ‘Open-Air Lifestyle Center’ outdoor space full of greenery, Adirondack chairs, bocce court, warming tables, and nest swings. A visit to the mall will be more fun, relaxing, and entertaining than ever!!

“We are excited to welcome the first-to-market Common Craft to Burlington Mall. Our shoppers crave connecting and finding joy in discovering the new and different. It is a great time for Common Craft to join our premier center in the new open-air lifestyle area and provide an even greater experience to customers.” Laura Schwartz, Simon Properties – Regional Vice President – Leasing New England

ABOUT THE CONCEPT

The craft beverage industry has become extremely popular and competitive. Small producers struggle with competing against the big corporate brands for notoriety and shelf space. Common Craft will help solve this issue by shining a spotlight on craft producers and further elevating their independent brands in a meaningful way. The unique concept makes it the perfect venue for a date night, group event, casual meet up and private events.

ABOUT THE TEAM

Working in the hospitality industry for over twenty-five years, Larry Leibowitz saw the trend in craft beverages expanding at a record pace. He also observed many fantastic, local producers competing with beverage industry giants for brand recognition, cooler space, beer tap lines, and menu listings. Larry’s role as the National Director of Culinary Innovation for a global catering company earned him a spot on the Forty under 40 Griffin Report and led to the creation of two highly regarded restaurants in Salem, MA, Bambolina and Kokeshi. The pair of restaurants have been featured in several publications and have received numerous accolades, including Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston, and five-time winner of the BONS award from North Shore Magazine.

Common Craft is hiring all positions: Executive Chef, AGM, Craft Cocktail Bartenders, Beertenders, Winetenders, Barbacks, Hosts, Line Cooks, Food Runners, & Bussers.

Architect renderings of the space, floor plan, logos, and sample menus for media are available upon request. Media Tours are currently being scheduled. We look forward to welcoming you.

Please contact me with questions, or feel free to contact Larry directly for interviews and media inquiries.

Thank you for your consideration of sharing the news about Common Craft.

Cheers-Patrick

CONTACT:

Larry Leibowitz
Founder

larry@commoncraftholdings.com

www.commoncrafthospitality.com

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‘Rules’ of Engagement in Civilized Society Include Restaurants by Dee Wolf-The Lobster Shanty Salem, MA

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement

Posted: 1/19/2022

Today’s guest post by my friend, Dee Wolf, Chef/owner of The Lobster Shanty and Wolf Next Door Coffee in Salem, MA first appeared in my Server Not Servant Facebook Group where it garnered more attention than any other post in the history of the group. As of today, Dee’s post has been shared 350 times, 700 people reacted to it, and 136 humans commented on it. [The FB post cannot be shared any longer because it has been slightly edited.]

Diane is a savvy, seasoned, salty restaurant industry veteran, and clearly her poignant message has resonated with many. I’m reposting here to encourage more people to read and share her message with your networks, including media contacts for publication. The link to this blog post will make her message easier to share.

The more restaurant customers and humans who read Dee’s work, the better…

From Diane ‘Dee’ Wolf:

You don’t need to go out to eat.

You don’t need to sit at a bar and have drinks with friends.

If you want to, then there are some rules that our society needs you to follow. If you want to drink, you must be 21 years old, and we can only serve you during the hours that our liquor license allows. We require guests to be fully dressed, including shoes and a shirt. You can’t misbehave or disrupt other guests. You cannot smoke or vape inside the restaurant or on our patio. When you drive here you can’t just leave your car anywhere, you need to park it in a legal spot, or you’ll get towed or get a ticket. Don’t drive if you’re drinking alcohol. If you bring a dog, she can’t sit inside, and we need proof that she has had a rabies shot.

What I’m saying is, having rules of engagement in any society is nothing new.

We have the legal right to refuse service to anyone, at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. But we are not unreasonable, and we welcome you to join us and stay. We want you to stay, we are in the hospitality business – but it is a business and there are laws, rules and societal norms that we all must follow to be part of this community. We take community building seriously.

I didn’t need to buy a restaurant.
I didn’t need to get a liquor license.

But I wanted to – so I had to do a few things; I got TiPS certified, ServSafe Certified, went to culinary school (which required me to be vaccinated for MMR, Hepatitis B, Chicken Pox, & Meningitis). I also trained with NEHA (the National Environmental Health Association) and created a HACCP (Hazzard Analysis Critical Control Point) plan to make sure my team handles food safely. I wrote a business plan, took out loans, and sold some personal items for seed money. I applied for a food permit & a liquor license. We had to have a health inspection, plumbing inspection, fire inspection, and building inspection just for our occupancy permit. Can’t just hang a sign, need to go before the Design Review Board for approval first. Want an A-frame sign? Need a special permit for that too. We must file and pay meals tax to the city and to the commonwealth, monthly. I need three or four different kinds of insurance, a payroll service, a trustworthy accountant, pest control, quality food & liquor vendors, trash, recycling, & compost removal. I must arrange for cooking oil recycling and knife sharpening. Clean that grease trap and snake the drains every quarter. Clean the exhaust hood and have the fire suppression system tested regularly. Train my crew, write a menu, buy plates & glassware, decorate the place, maybe get a couple of TVs, pay for cable or a satellite, maybe a jukebox service and an ATM. (Don’t forget to pay the four different musicians unions if you play a radio or have live music) Buy a Point of Sale system, arrange for credit card processing. Maybe secure a line of credit (or bootstrap it like we did). All of this needs to be done before we serve a single burger or pour one beer. The goal is to create a culture and an atmosphere that folks want to go to.

Yeah, you could eat at home – my job is to entice you to come join us and be part of our special community. Do you have to? No. Do I want you to? Yes.

We have done SO MUCH to get this restaurant ready for you, to make it fun, to make it safe – so you can let loose and relax for a while. The least you could do is not give my host pushback for asking you to follow the rules. Rulemaking is well above our pay grade here at our little Mom & Pop restaurant. Anyone who wants to ‘punish’ a local business for following new mandates from the city or commonwealth is shooting themselves in the foot – because all that will be left are big chains of boring food dished out by large, soulless corporations. If you want to live in a thriving, unique community; a community with heart and soul, do your fucking part. We’re tired of arguing with you, we’d just like to get back to hospitality if you don’t mind…

In the comments, Dee added, A handful of folks in cities with new vaccine mandates want to punish restaurants by boycotting them, I find this infuriating and heartless. If you want small, independent restaurants in your community, you need to support them.

Amen, Dee Wolf. Amen ♥

Dee can be reached via email at lobstershanty@gmail.com.

Subscription to these blog posts is currently free by entering your email in the blue box on the upper-left side of this post. To support the mission of the Server Not Servant blog and expedite publishing of the forthcoming book, please click on ‘Support Server Not Servant’ in the blue box on the upper-right side of this post. Venmo: @Patrick-Maguire-32. Please email me about personal or corporate book sponsorship opportunities at patrick@servernotservant.com.

And please consider sharing this post if inspired to do so.

Cheers-Patrick Maguire

#ServerNotServant

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