Servers Respond to Their $2.50 Raise: 'Cool'

Categories: Culture, Food

Katie Toth for the Village Voice
Joe O'Dea, 54, has been working at Jim Brady's Irish Pub for twenty years. He's "undecided" about the tipped minimum wage increase slated for December 2015.
Activists are celebrating the rise of New York State's minimum tipped wage, from $5 to $7.50 an hour, as a major victory.

But in the classic hipster style this city — Brooklyn in particular — has made famous, bartenders and servers in the upscale restaurants and bars of New York reacted with a modest range of emotions, from pleasant surprise to chill ambivalence.

More »

Papa John's Franchisee Shafted Delivery Workers, AG Alleges

Categories: Food

Thumbnail image for Supreme_pizza.JPG
By Scott Bauer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Would you like shame with that?

How's this for a reason to tip the delivery guy: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has just filed a lawsuit against a Papa John's franchisee, Ronald Johnson, for allegedly treating his workers even worse than the way we feel about ourselves after a massive pepperoni slice.

Investigators say Johnson's company made workers pay for and maintain their own delivery bikes. Those bikes probably cost a hefty chunk of change for the workers, who were getting only $5 an hour. That's less than the $7.25 minimum wage in New York State for much of the time period covered by the lawsuit, but it's even less than the $5.65 "tipped wage" that bosses can pay certain employees if they're making enough in tips.

"Nobody who works 40 hours a week should have to live in poverty," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Like every other business in New York, fast-food employers must follow the law."

More »

What Should You Actually Do When You Get a Rat in Your Wrap or a Frog In Your Salad?

Photo by Jack Buehrer, who didn't have lunch there
An out-the-door lunchtime line at Chop't on July 9, the day after the Rat Wrap story broke.
Another month, another soul-destroyingly disgusting foreign object in some poor unfortunate diner's food. On Tuesday, Gothamist brought us the story of the Rat Wrap, in which some anonymous guy at a law firm apparently ordered lunch delivered from Chop't on Pine Street in the Financial District and got an extra party favor, in the form of a whole damn rodent tucked away amongst the lettuce. (It looks like a mouse to us, but we'll bow to the alliterative superiority of the term "Rat Wrap.") Two of his colleagues tweeted about the incident, one with a stomach-turning photo, and RatGate was born.

More »

Queens Elementary School Goes Completely Vegetarian, First To Do So In U.S.

P.S. 244Q in Flushing is known to students, teachers and parents alike as "The Active Learning Elementary School." It was opened five years ago by its principal, Robert Groff, as an experimental institution focused on nutrition. The school is the Bloomberg administration's educational dream, placing a heavy emphasis on learning and public health.

In January, the school began to limit the meat in breakfast and lunch meals to specific days of the week. But, yesterday, the school made an unprecedented move: now, it will be the first public school in the United States of America to serve an all-vegetarian menu.

More »

Shawn McAleese Is Going to Prison for Roughly 30 Years for Stealing Ribs and Booze (And Thousands of Dollars)

Categories: Crime, Food
Since our prior post about Manhattan tunnel thief Shawn McAleese -- who just found out today that he'll likely be a guest of the state for longer than a convicted murderer -- we got our hands on the criminal complaint that details exactly what he stole to earn such a lengthy prison sentence.

The thousands of dollars he stole from at least eight Manhattan restaurants and bars aside, McAleese also swiped two bags of ribs, a bottle of saki, and a sports bag.

And this isn't McAleese's first rodeo -- he has done two prior prison stints for three other burglary convictions, according to the New York State Department of Corrections website. His latest release date is November of last year -- just months before burglarizing multiple businesses.

More »

City Opposes Cuomo's Move to End Fingerprinting for Food Stamps, But Can't Do Much About it

1quinn and bloomberg.jpg
Sam Levin
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Mike Bloomberg at a press conference.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that he is ending a controversial policy that requires food stamp applicants to be fingerprinted -- a move that has pitted him squarely against Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The news today is also one that puts Bloomberg in direct opposition with City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn (and a handful of other local politicians).

At the center of the debate is the policy that requires all food stamp applications and recipients in New York State to be fingerprinted, which the governor, along with a group of advocates, says creates a stigma around receiving welfare, slows down the process, and creates barriers to reducing hunger. But Bloomberg, who butted heads with Cuomo on the policy back in January, has repeatedly defended fingerprinting, arguing that it stops New Yorkers from abusing the benefits and saves the city millions of dollars by stopping fraudulent recipients.

More »

Report Says Excessive Fines for Street Vendors are Hurting the City (And Are Bad for Vendors, Too)

street vendors.jpg
University of Wisconsin report.
A report released today argues that the city is excessively fining street vendors and in doing so is actually losing out on revenue it would get with a fine system that's more fair.

The report, called "Fining the Hand that Feeds You," from the University of Wisconsin, argues that high fines are less likely to be paid than lower, more reasonable fines -- and that if the city made them easier to pay, they would bring in more money. It was released this morning in partnership with the the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center and with support from City Council members who are pushing legislation on the topic and held a hearing today on street vendors.

Last year, the report notes, the city handed out more than 26,000 tickets to street vendors -- many costing vendors $1,000 for infractions that the authors say are minor and unrelated to health and safety, including vending too far from the curb or carrying their vending license in their pocket instead of wearing it around their neck.

Given their modest incomes, most street vendors simply aren't able to pay $1,000 fines, the report argues.

More »

Tim Tebow In New York: Sees Broadway Musical, Gets Carnegie Deli Sandwich Named After Him

Screen shot 2012-03-25 at 10.04.04 AM.png

New York, get ready, Tebow's in town and you're going to hear about every move he makes. First up: Tebow sees a show! Though we're not sure if he needs any lessons on how to be popular, Tim Tebow went to see the Broadway musical Wicked in New York last night, according to the New York Daily News. Donna Vivino, an actress in the production, notified her public via Twitter of the new Jet's presence at the show.

More »

State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblyman Keith Wright: End Food Stamp Fingerprinting

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SQUADRESIZE.jpg
Only two places in America still require fingerprints from food stamp recipients: Arizona and New York City.

While this isn't too surprising from a state that practically had a ban on controversial Mexican-American books in one school district (no, really), it's a bit odd to see something like this in the Empire State, let alone New York City.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in fact, has pushed for the elimination of the practice -- which is now only active in NYC -- so that more more eligible families will participate in the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.)

This prompted backlash from Mayor Mike Bloomberg: He claims that this policy shift would bring the state back to the "bad old days" before 1996, when the food stamp program was supposedly rife with fraud.

He said on his radio segment in January: "We forget how easy it is to go back to the bad old days when anybody that wanted to get subsidies, whether they deserved or not, just walked up and said I'm taking it," he said. "You can't go back to those days. ... We've saved five million dollars this year alone because the fingerprints caught 1,900 people."

But that hasn't stopped State Sen. Daniel Squadon and State Assemblyman Keith Wright, with support from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, from fighting for fingerprint-free food stamps.

More »

City Council: Restaurants Don't Really Like The City's Grading System

Mike Licht,
A day after Mayor Mike Bloomberg held a press conference touting the successes of the city's letter grading system for restaurant health inspections, members of the City Council are saying that a majority of businesses don't actually like them.

Bloomberg, alongside the city's health commissioner, told reporters yesterday that requiring restaurants to post their letter grades has done nothing but good for the city since the policy was first implemented in 2010.

Most New Yorkers like seeing As, Bs, and Cs in restaurant windows, restaurant sales have jumped, more businesses have improved their cleanliness, and salmonella infections have gone down, the city reported.

Everyone wins, right?

More »