Wednesday, March 4, 2009

PR Disaster

It had all the indications of being a mundane Wednesday until this email falls into my lap. Written by a disgruntled chef.. this email had been sent to ALL the media contacts he had... 

Dear All,

 I want to thank you for visiting XXX during our opening period and the many great things you wrote about me and the restaurant.

 While the initial success of XXX has taken a lot of hard work and planning by me over the past 5 years, it only takes a few months for “crooks and cheaters” to take over.

 Behind the scenes at XXX have proved to be quite a challenge. Usually the process now underway at the restaurant happens to good places after a couple of years of success. But for this to start only a month or two into the project is absolutely irresponsible and bordering on the criminal.

 From the second month, Managing Director XXX has tried to push me to the boundaries of deceit. First he kept insisting that I buy Chinese Kobe beef and sell it as 100% Japanese Wagyu. I have fought this from the beginning refusing to deceive our customers. Then came the idea that we should serve FROZEN lobster (and tell people they are live……even though we have a live lobster tank in full view of everyone?) He has given the ultimatum….to get cheaper and cheaper with product quality while at the same time continuing to raise prices at XXX for these same substandard, low quality products. (To heighten their profits of course. They are money guys…… low and sell high is their motto) How long can you CON your customers before the truth gets out? Just ask Bernie Madoff!!!!

 They haven’t paid suppliers in months. I found out just a few weeks ago (CNY) from many of my suppliers (who I was able to use my good reputation to get credit and set up accounts) that some had NEVER been paid since we opened. The kitchen contractors, builders, designers got paid finally only a portion of their agreed upon fees after 3 months! Constantly chasing our office and accounts, only to listen to lies and excuses is no way to run a business. As I began to speak up for the suppliers and our quality standards they looked at me as not being “a team player”. Well if that team is the Detroit Lions then I do not want to be part of a losing team. People seem to always forget that there are winning teams and losing teams and just being a team player doesn’t make you a winner?

 While business has been good at XXX, where is all of the money going? Each month, they are more than $2 million+ behind in the way past due bills. They closed down their lousy XXX in January after taking in $2.5mil in sales and didn’t pay the landlords and accepted deliveries up until the day they closed. What happened to that money? We had thugs going to XXX, our office, XXX and our other outlets looking for Managing Director XXX. We were informed to tell anyone who came into XXX that we do not know him nor is he involved in XXX. They tried to tell many suppliers that the Managing Director just took off with all the money. (Maybe not too far from the truth…only that he never took off?) They folded their colossal failure XXX in Beijing after only a few months open “burning” everyone to the tune of millions in Beijing.

They owe me for two months salary. It is difficult being around a criminal culture while trying to paint a rosy picture on the outside.

 Why do these financial guys (investment bankers), many of whom are highly dubious in their business practices (which have come to light globally over the past few months) ruin the reputation of the restaurant business. Almost every restaurant I have opened has become a success and is still up and running while at the same time, almost everything these guys touch has turned to shit. XXX brags that he opens two restaurants a year, well he has closed down that many in the past few months and I am sure more are on there way. XXX is a disaster. XXX is on its’ last legs. At XXX, nobody can figure out how they make any money because they are virtually empty half the week?

Money Laundering/Drugs has been brought up by others but who knows?

 While you guys have seen many restaurants come and go over the years for various reasons, it is disheartening to have a restaurant that I put my heart and soul into taken over by a crook Mr. XXX. He has tried to hide his name as much as possible, obviously to avoid legal challenges to his dubious business practices.

 While as of two weeks ago, I am no longer involved in XXX and thought it my duty to warn you about these deceitful practices. How do you know what to trust anymore while dining at XXX?

Is that USDA Prime Rib Eye really Prime? Really from the US?

That $1500 100% Japanese Wagyu is not really cheap Chinese Copy beef?

That my lobster on the surf n’ turf is frozen from a box?

Are my $600 Colorado Lamb Chops really from Australia or New Zealand?

Is this fish fresh or frozen? They are currently buying some fresh fish then freezing them WTF? Of course they have bought more freezers to buy all the cheap frozen product.

Remember that part of my concept was a freezerless kitchen, well that has been shot-to-hell.

 While I am no longer there to hold the line against this crook, it will be hard to trust anything coming out of that kitchen. Well, with their new Japanese-Canadian chef I am sure that they will have many surprises in store for you in the future………….

 …………..just beware of what those surprises may hold?

 Best Regards,

 Chef XXX

 P.S. Look for my latest new project later in the year. Cheers!

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