August 2007 Archives

I usually check the Philly Pretzel Factory website "locations" list every few weeks, trying to see if someone was smart and and steal my million dollar idea...

Just open up a Philly Pretzel Factory in Hoboken, approach every bar in town about buying a box for football Saturdays and Sundays and rake in your money.

I'm telling ya, it will be gangbusters.

Well imagine my surprise, but we have one coming to town, thanks for Dave and Chris Chalmers. I don't know them. The address says "2 Newark Street", but I know that address and isn't that at the end of the block between the post office and the cigar store? Would be a good location, but I just can't see it being there and think it was a temporary address (or I could be wrong...)

Anyhow, very much hope they open very soon!!

Customer Service


I have worked in restaurants since I was twelve, working various jobs and have learned what is important to customers when they enter a restaurant – the feeling that they are being taken care of and are important to that establishment.

This shouldn’t be a great revelation. I’m certainly not parting any wisdom upon anyone who also has worked in any aspect of the restaurant – from the cooks to the dishwashers to the barback to the waiters to the bartenders – the customer is what comes first, and –within reason- should be always attended properly. I’ve worked in greasy spoon diners, chain-restaurants, and family owned establishments. The mantra has always been the same.

I also think that by working in such a profession, it also gives me a different attitude when I am the customer. I rarely get upset with wait staff, especially if they are very busy. I usually don’t send back food to the kitchen, I will speak to the manager afterwards about it. I will always tip 20%, unless I got unsatisfactory service and will tip 15% (I don’t agree with 0% tip, everyone can have a bad night), and then speak to the manager or owner about it after my meal.

Some employees don’t care. They are just there, making the shift pay and expect their tip – instead of working for it. Some make honest to goodness mistakes, and they need to respond appropriately to correct the error.

Case in point is a local restaurant a few blocks my condo. I’m not going to call it out on my blog, but lets just say it is a Hoboken-owned business, with about 3-4 wait staff and about 20 tables inside and outside. They get very busy, especially for brunch, and often have people waiting outside for tables very often on the weekends.

I have been there for brunch about twelve times in the last four months. The wait staff are in their early 20’s and nice enough. The owner is a nice guy, I’ve chatted with him a few times. The food they have isn’t terribly expensive, it’s close to my home and I like what they serve.

The only problem I have had lately is that the service has been spotty. Most days I get there, I don’t have a major problem. But here’s what happened last week.

I got to the restaurant, and it was 80% full. No one was outside, and one of the waiters handed me a menu and told me I could sit anywhere. So I grabbed a paper, sat down, mulled over the menu for a moment, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

No one approached me. I watched other people get served. I watched the same waiter to told me to sit, talk to the table next to me for a good five minutes. I read my paper while this was going on, and thinking, “Surely someone will come up to me soon.”

No one what happens next...

Slowly, but surely...

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Over the last few months everyone always asks, "So, how's the new condo?"

My basic response has been, "Slowly, but surely the renovations have been coming along."

When FKI from Hobokenchat/Hoboken411 commented on a previous entry about the "H.A.T.T" (Hoboken Actual Time Translator), I laughed it off. Surely the renovations wouldn't take as long as a few months. My contractor told me everything would take 4 days, tops.

FKI, you were right!

My condo is basically 99% done. As you can see, I need to choose and install a kitchen light, along with two lights for above the granite countertop. I really 082607a.jpgsuck at picking things like this, and if anyone is good at something like this, your advice would be appreciated. I have next week off from Corporation X, and i'm not going anywhere, just chilling around town. I certainly can use that time to hit up Home Depot, but I hate just going to a store and wandering around - I like a PLAN.

I'm very happy with the work that was done, especially when compared to how my condo once looked, and my new glass kitchen table and chairs were delivered on Saturday. I spent a few weeks looking online at various tables, some glass and some wood. I checked out sites like Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel, along with a few others. I liked what Restoration Hardware had, but since the kitchen was small, 082607b.jpgI didn't want to plunk down $1200 for a table that may be useful in this condo, but not so useful in a future residence with a larger dining area.

One of the limitations of the condo is that space is at a premium, and I have to be careful about what furniture I buy and how I utilize the closets. Easily one of the best purchases I made was the EZ Closet shelving for my bedroom and hall closets. One of the poor choices I made was buying the leather chair and ottoman, along with a leather couch for my family room. 082607c.jpg
They just don't fit, and I think I have to sell the chair and ottoman and replace it with a love seat. As you can see from the picture, the glass mirror wall has been replaced with drywall. Yes, I realize I need something to put up on the walls, and that is on my "things to do" list at

The Cheese Store

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Hobokenites often lament that our town is losing its character and charm to every new chain store, bank and real estate office that seems to spring up on Washington Street every few months, but there are charming new businesses if you know where to look, like at 720 Monroe Street, home to The Cheese Store.

It is owned by Chung Park, 081907a.jpgwhose passion for the dairy culinary arts began because of fate. This passion began with a job many years ago at specialty store, Todaro Bros, in New York City. He was assigned to the cheese department by the management, and where he started to learn his craft for over a year. Then, reading the New York Times one day, he saw an ad for a six month apprenticeship at a Goat Cheese Farm in Jeffersonville, New York, near the Catskills. It would not only enhance his knowledge, but it was free room & board, too. He jumped at the chance, and after learning what he could, he came back to New York City to work at Murray's for about five years. After Murray's, he worked for importers / wholesalers and would consult various businesses on what cheese they should buy - and why. Then Chung realized that he could be that business. He had the knowledge and the interest to start his own business in a field which he was an expert.

The long winding road brought Chung to Hoboken, where he offically became a cheesemonger on July 19th 2007, only 4 days after the birth of his first child. 081907e.jpg
He chose Hoboken, because of the people who live here, people who would be receptive to the variety and depth of his product. At his store, it isn't only about cheese - he has cured meats, olives, walnuts, dried apricots, pate, sausage, yogurt, milk and cultured butter, and baugettes.

But I do have to take a moment to mention the fresh sandwiches. Upon my visit to the store, I walked in, and looked at the ever present chalk board, which has the daily written specials. I chose a sandwich with French Ham, Gruyere, lettuce, dijon on a baugette from Baltazar's Bakery. It was simply, my friends, worth the walk alone. He tells me that the sandwiches change often, but has made a "signature sandwich" from mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinagrette and fresh basil leaves and it was also just as exquisite as the first.

After sampling that, Chung took the time to explain the various process of cheese to me, from understanding how you can have artisan, farmhouse, dairy and industrial cheese makers who all produce an enormous wide variety of cheese for the international consumers. Much like in the world of wine, you have specific vineyards who are renown for their wine, you also have specific cheesemakers who are renown for their cheese.

Chung is able to wade through the quagmire, 081907c.jpgto bring a great selection of cheeses, which he classifies as: Hard Ripened (those that age and become dense), Soft Ripened (those that age and become, well, soft), Washed Rind (rubbed with brine at a young age and allowed to age) and Bleu Cheese (those that age and have mould on the outside or inside). Some customers will walk in knowing exactly what they want, and others are curious.

Chung tells me that he has a motto: "Whatever they are curious about, I encourage them to taste."

He does so without hestiation, often using a cheese slicer on the hard cheeses, or a small spoon on the soft cheeses, to let the customers try what is behind the display case. Much like a sommilier, Chung can guide the consumers towards what may interest them. Unlike going to a wine store, where it is nearly impossible to sample a wine before opening it, the customers at The Cheese Store, are welcome to sample everything that strikes an interest.

My knowledge of cheese is very basic. At a young age, I knew only of swiss, cheddar and mozarella. As I got older, I was exposed to gouda, brie and havarti. There can just be a dizzying array of cheese out there, and Chung has an amazing selection. We tried Fromager D'Affinois, Humbolt Fog, Delice De Bourgogne, Foglie Di Noce (Tuscan pecorino wrapped in walnut leaves, and my favorite I think!), Abbaye De081907d.jpg
Belloc. I found that upon tasting that I liked the hard ripened more, and didn't enjoy the briny taste of the Washed Rind as much. But I found myself learning and enjoying everything that Chung was teaching me about this experience.

What The Cheese Store has is exactly what is missing from other competing stores in Hoboken - someone like Chung Park. If you walk into Garden of Eden, certainly they have a large cheese selection. Who would you rather describe to you the cheese you are interested in, a teenage employee who is working there part-time or someone who has the experience of Chung Park? Will that store open the cheese up for you, and let you sample it? Are the prices as competitive as The Cheese Store? I doubt it.

I absolutely encourage everyone to expand their horizons. Go out there and try new things. Take an hour out of your day, and just try something new. Say hello to Chung, he is a great guy and so was his father Peter, who was helping behind the counter. We need more establishments in Hoboken like The Cheese Store, places that restore our faith that Hoboken isn't losing its personality, but gaining them, if you know where to look.


Eagles Club On Google Groups

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Lots of people have been emailing me for updates on the Eagles Club. To manage it more efficiently, I created an Eagles Group. You can invite your friends, talk about the Eagles and get all your information there for the season at Mulligan's bar.

I also added to the sidebar, the link to our group, and the ability to join the club.

Google Groups
Subscribe to Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken
Visit this group

I hope to see everyone out this year. Mulligan's has been taking a lot of steps to make the club even better, and I think everyone will like the changes in store. If there is any suggestions or questions you have, feel free to email me, and I will see what we can do!

The Art Of Boredom

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If you were someone close to me, you would know that I have been very bored at my corporate job. Extremely bored. I was getting to a point where I was starting to think about what I was going to do next. Leave my job? That just wasn't terribly practical, since I have a mortgage now, and do actually enjoy many of the benefits of "Corporation X".

Some of the benefits were a good salary (taking into consideration workload + effort = salary), decent benefits (healthcare, 401K, and free perks) and reputation (working here for 13 years - I know a shitload of people, know the internal system better than most people, and just have a hard-working reputation with many department employees and heads of departments).

It's hard for me to just walk away from that.

But it's also hard for me to work just anywhere. As a child I was diagnosed in 1977 with hyperactivity. At the time, doctors didn't call it "Attention Deficit Disorder", or ADD. They just told my parents to keep me off sugar and also suggested a new drug called "Ritalin".

My parents knew of another child on Ritalin, and they didn't like what it did to him. It made him like a zombie. They knew I could be a bit out of control, but used discipline, love and patience instead of turning to drugs to "fix" me.

I was never fixed, I still had to live with this my whole life and I did figure out a few tricks to make my life easier.

One trick I learned, was in high school, when I studied a subject that I didn't like.

In classes that I enjoyed (literature, history, social sciences)- I always got "A's" and "B+'s". I wasn't just passionate about the subject, I would immerse myself in it. I would find that my intense curiousity, coupled with desire to learn would just make everything easy.

In classes that I dreaded (math, physics) I would just fail. I would grow bored and sketch in my notebook for 45 minutes. Stare out the window. Do ANYTHING to occupy my mind with something interesting. It was like pulling teeth to sit in these classes. I would squirm in my chair, and daydream.

I soon learned that if I broke up studying for a subject - 30 minutes studying, then 15 minutes of "breaks" (like bouncing a ball off a wall), I was able to beat my concentration issues and focus on the subject at hand. I found that I could trick my brain - keeping my interest fresh in the subject by just breaking up a 2 hour study period into a 3 hour period, with four 15 minute breaks.

Life today isn't much different for me, when working in corporate life.

If I am at Corporation X and working on something I enjoy - i'm on fire. I also do very well when I have a job that has many, many tasks, with me constantly engaged. I'm much better working on a variety of jobs, and I excelled when I worked in the technical support department, because everytime i'd pick up the phone I had a different task to troubleshoot. It kept me fresh and interested, but the downside was that I hated getting angry customers on the phone. I eventually hated that job, only because by the end of the day I would be drained of all energy. I was happy to leave that department and try something new.

I worked in various departments, learning new things. But, like my personality...I would grow bored if it wasn't something that I felt was interesting and challenging.

The department that i'm in now was a good fit for me, it presented itself in an odd way - the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the company, at the time, asked me to transfer in to the department, because they needed a boost from someone that had my background. I was flattered and excited to contribute. Things were good...but I think my growth got derailed a bit. The COO left the company. Her plan for me was in her head, i'm sure, and a new COO was never replaced! They just had department heads reporting to a CEO, instead of a COO.

I languished a bit, and even got into some management reponsibility. I quickly realized that management was really hard if you weren't a great "people person". I'm not great at that. I'm more like a military guy - do what I say, get the job done. It works with some people, but other people felt I was abrasive. I was removed from doing that after about a year, which I had mixed feelings on. Part of me wanted to be in a leadership role, but another part just was happy to be left alone and troubleshoot by myself.

Ok, so why am I writing all this?

Looks like another change in my life. Starting on Monday i'm switching roles, moving to the downtown Network Operations Center (NOC), and my life is taking another direction for the better. I worked in the uptown NOC before, and know a lot of the people i'm working with. The work I will be doing is more technical, but also very varied, which is something that my hyperactive head needs. They suggested that I would need to start up with getting my CCNA (which I did start to study for just before I switched to my current department).

It's a big move. I think it is also a good opportunity, with exposure to a lot of technical development, which is good for my value to Corporation X - and not to mention my resume if I were ever to leave. Also at our Corporation, people don't move around so much, lots of people just sit in the same department for years and years - and become a dinosaur. They know what they know, but don't learn new things and don't enhance their self worth. I feel like this will be something that will make me even more well rounded and also jumpstart my interest in coming to work again.

One cool thing is that my new office is its near Christopher Street. My commute each day will be walking to the PATH (which is like 5 minutes), taking it from Hoboken to Christopher Street (1 stop - 7 minutes), and walking 5 minutes to the office on West Street. I'm very, very excited about that alone - since my current commute takes from 45 minutes to an hour to get uptown (Hoboken to 34th and then the subway uptown).

I'm excited for the change, looking forward to something different. This may also affect the blog a bit, since my updates might be not as frequent - it was always easier to pen my thoughts when I was sitting bored at work.

Quid Pro Quo

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I woke up this morning at 5am, with a booming sound, which I first thought was a bomb.

That's the thing that sucks about living in a post 9-11 world. I'd hear thunder as a kid, and it was just thunder.

I hear these sounds now, roused from a slumber and the first thing I think is, "Was that a bomb?"

I guess score one for the terrorists.

When my alarm went off, and I was getting ready for work I got a text message, "Get ur canoe this am" from Matt.

I step outside, and get to see my new waterfront property:

Yesterday there was a report on about NJ Transit investing $10 million in a new sewer system on Observer Highway, which should alleviate this flooding. Only issue I have is that no one - NO ONE - does anything in Hoboken for generousity. Its pure "Quid Pro Quo" - This for that.

Those that have been watching City Hall know that NJ Transit has been jonesing to build new Newport-sized buildings near the rail yard for mixed use residential/commercial occupancy. The citizens are completely against this, and some of the newer members of City Hall have opposed such construction by NJ Transit.

I just hope something happens soon.

Steal My Idea: IPod & Cookbooks

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Edited to add: Hey looks like it's already invented. :(

Ok, here's my current million dollar idea.

I get them all the time.

One of my biggest issues is food. I'm a finicky eater. Just very picky when it comes to what I like and I would, at times, simply not eat, even when hungry, than eat something i'm not in the "mood" for.

With my gym routine back in full effect, i'm cooking for myself more. Nothing super fancy, but there's only so many times I want steak. Last night I made chicken fajitas. It turned out very well, and was simple to make. I wanted to make a fajita marinade with the chicken and decided to wing it. I used to get the chicken stir fry kit from Fresh Direct. It's great, but the problem with Fresh Direct is that basically everything you buy is fresh and goes bad in 3 days.

That doesn't work for me very well. Like I said, i'm picky with food. I don't know what I will want to eat tonight. I will know in about 6 hours what i'm in the mood for. I have friends who cook up entire batches of chicken on Sunday and eat it everyday for lunch with their brown rice. Every. Day.

That would be like a death sentence for me. I'm a fan of variety. I certainly have my favorite foods: Chicken with Broccoli, Virginia Baked Ham, Filet Mignon steak (medium rare) and of course: LAMB!

Inside joke on the "Lamb".

Anyhow, what does this have to do with my topic idea? Ok, somehow take a cookbook and then make it an iPod file. Let's say i'm at the gym. I'm are coming home and want to make something fresh and delicious.

Open the iPod, go to "Cookbook" choose type: "Chicken", and skim thru the recipies. Look over the ingredients and on my way home, I shop at the food store (or I may have some of the ingredients at home).

Often I find that I get home from the gym and then going BACK out to shop for food sucks. Like I wrote yesterday once I get home, the motivation drains from me.

But if, on my way back, I knew EXACTLY the portions I needed to buy, then i'm set.

Oh, I forgot to mention - i'm not a cook that can just throw items into a pan and make something great. I'm excellent if you give me a recipe that has portions & temperature settings & times. My ex-roommates can attest to my recipe prowess.

So why don't *I* make this idea millions for myself?

Oh, i'm the typical Aquarius. I dream up these ideas. For all I know this one could be in existance (i'm fully expecting someone to post a comment: "ALREADY INVENTED!")

And for the record, someone came up with my dog rental idea in San Fran.

Editied to Add #2: Ok, the idea above is a cookware maker for your ipod - basically add your recipies to an if I can come up with a bunch of great recipies and sell those....millions....well, ok maybe not millions...

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