Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sadly, Chop Crazy

On my usual between class teaching break the other day, I was enjoying my downtime in the food court at Place Victoria under the stock exchange building in downtown Montreal. I noticed a brand new shop had just opened across from the smoothie shop. It was a place I had never seen before called Chop Crazy. From time to time, I write for the Montreal Metblog about things going on in the city, so I snapped a picture from outside and went in to check the place out, thinking it might be a topic I could do for the metblog. The place was so inviting to me, because it seemed to be some kind of salad place. One of the things I most sorely miss about living in California is the dearth of good salads up here. My heart fluttered as I went in and saw all the chopped ingredients and lettuces, could it be? A real live salad shop? Finally! I approached the counter and the young man engaged me immediately. "Are you familiar with our concept?" he asked. I told him I wasn't and he launched his spiel, everything fresh every day, you can build your own salad or choose some with pre-selected ingredients. They had a Cobb Salad on the menu, and I don't think I've seen that here before. I told the young man that this is something I really missed about living in California and he asked me what brought me here. I said, "Marriage." Then the other guy chopping lettuce piped up, "I'm from Australia and I'm here for the same reason." I asked for a menu to take with me and decided to take a picture of the counter with all the chopped ingredients displayed. This is when everything went wrong.

Suddenly, next to me, a man barked, "You can't take pictures in here." Startled, I looked up, figured the guy was the manager, and said, "Oh c'mon, it's only food." He repeated his interdiction to picture-taking. I don't take well to direct orders from strangers and so I became combative. "I'm in a public place, I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to take pictures." The man then informed me that no, I'm not allowed to take pictures, at any mall, security will stop you from taking pictures. I told him that I thought that was bullshit and why doesn't he tell me the real reason he doesn't want me taking pictures. He maintained that it was not allowed. I said, "No, you just don't want me stealing your concept." He answered, "If you know that, why are you trying to do it." I made some reference to his charming paranoia and that "maybe I'd be back." I said it in a way that meant "I will never be back."

This is the food picture to which the guy objected me taking. Pretty ridiculous eh? Hello, it's a compliment. I was pretty furious when I left. How could such a pleasant introduction to this restaurant finish so badly? And furthermore, now I won't be able to eat there even though I'm exactly the kind of customer who would want to eat there. Pissed. me. off. So I went upstairs to security and asked if there were any restrictions on picture taking in the public areas. They told me no, of course not. So I went back downstairs to find the guy with whom I'd had the altercation who was sitting down shoveling a wrap down his throat. Perfect, I'd be able to speak. "Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I checked with security and there are no restrictions on taking pictures in the public areas." He swallowed and said, "Well, those are MY restrictions." Wow, get over yourself, guy. I then told him he should probably focus more on attracting customers instead of hassling them. He said, "Don't you have some work to do somewhere." I told him that as a matter of fact I worked in the building and he could have had a twice-three time a week customer, but now - not, and that he should be careful as he never knows who he's talking to. He barked his final response, "Yeah, whatever," and went back to shoveling the wrap into his mouth.

Turns out, this guy is one of the owners of the company. (Gotta love Google.) I'm not going to mention his name because then I wouldn't be able to say, "What an asshole!" I am also not recommending that you do not patronize this place. Had it not been for the asshole, I would definitely sample their goods. Sadly, I will not be able to do that.

33 comments:

Devo said...

What a dumb fuck. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Something similar happened on Seinfeld. Kramer couldn't go into the store he loved so well so he sent George in for him. You could send a student in to get you a Cobb salad to go.
After a while the owner won't be there and you can go in and talk to the guy from Australia about moving to Canada for love and marriage. Ed

Polt said...

Were I living IN Montreal (in your apartment building, natch!), I'd go to that place, ask to speak to the manage, tell him how I LOVE the concept and the place in general, just RAVE about it...and then tell him I can't eat there because he is so rude to customers, especially customers that just want to take a photo of the place to show and recommend to thier friends...which they will not be doing now. And then walk out.

Bastard.

HUGS...

Christopher said...

Send a series of student and friends in daily over the course of the next two weeks to take photos during their busiest hours!!! Make the guy stroke out and he'll be out of the way and you can all enjoy the salads.

Seriously. looking at that image I think I see why he really didn't want you taking the pictures. Being in preventative health care, I train and work in health inspections as well... his self-service bar is poorly designed for use by the public. He knows that already I bet.

Hope salads catch on north of the border!

-C

Patricia said...

what a flipping idiot he was. seriously, it amazes me how stupid and rude people can be. and how much do i love that you went back and talked to him again?!

Doug said...

Oh, what Christopher said! Lots and lots of pictures!

Paul said...

I'll stay away. Thanks for recommendation.

(Hey, sometimes I do as I'm told.)

Will said...

I've studied your pictures minutely. In one there is a counter and behind it a horizontal panel listing what's available at Chop Crazy. In the other, there are salad ingredients that have been pre-prepared in square steel containers over ice to keep them fresh.

My analysis is that this concept is obviously a radical and revolutionary development in self-serve salad bars, unlike ANYTHING that has come before; that by publishing these photos you have endangered a burgeoning business by engaging in industrial espionage and revealing to other salad bar operators deeply guarded trade secrets nobody has ever thought of before in the at least 2500 year history of the food service industry.

My alternate take is that this asshole is a stupid, defensive, paranoid and ignorant George W. Bush clone and who deserves to have his business fail for showing contempt for his customers. On the other hand, his employees were open and pleasant with you and don't deserve to have their jobs closed out from under them. Think of them, perhaps, and eat there whenever you like.

CoffeeDog said...

Uh, dumbass doesn't realize that there are a *million* salad places just like this in NYC.

Stealing the concept, right.

I'm with you, I love a good salad, esp. when someone else does all the chopping.

Frank said...

This makes me want to go over there and start shooting away (with a camera). Hey, how about if we organize a photographer flash mob? That would be so hilarious. Go in saying we are all famished for salad, then just before giving the owner our order, we all break out cameras, take a gazillions photos, then high-tail it out of there.

Will said...

I love Frank's idea.

Laverne said...

Will's comment made me laugh.

Wow. I am having such a hard time imagining you confronting the guy the way you did. I love it! You were right, and instead of backing off and just apologizing, the guy had to get all testosterone-y on you.


Some people.

Will said...

Thank you, Laverne for the compliment--I'm always delighted to give someone a smile or a laugh.

dbv said...

Maybe if you'd told him you were writing a review of the place he might have acted or responded differently. I got the same response when I took a pic in Holt Renfrew of a hanging stainless steel spiral staircase with mannequins in evening wear.

Truthspew said...

Remember flash mobs? Why not expand upon that concept. Get 50-100 people with cameras and flashes assembled there in record time and then just snapping away with flash active.

But the owner is definitely a horse ass (Oops, the Equine Anti-Defamation League will be after me next.) and deserves to have said ass handed to him on a platter.

Frank said...

Here's an idea: eat there every day. Take your camera with you each time, and when you wait for your order, take out a note pad and make notes while always smiling and acting friendly.

As Oscar Wilde said: Love your enemies, it will drive them mad.

Donna said...

Go right back there and get your salad!!! Smile and ignore him. What's he going to do? Refuse you service?.....Oh, now That could be fun.....lol

Summer said...

I had my camera in my hand while in a grocery store in NYC and a security guard told me no pictures too. They must think we're spies or something.

Kevin @ Sunshine day said...

As if you couldn't steal the concept just from patronizing the place? The guy thinks you need to have pictures to do that? What an idiot. Good for you, don't go back...just make your own salads at home.

Lemuel said...

This is what I love about the power of blogging, etc. We got your message and I'm with you. Spread the word and the guy will feel the effect of his treatment of customers.

RoxRocks said...

I'm with you on the never eating there. Sometimes it's the principle of the thing. Fucker. As if salads will fly. This is Canada. Home of the poutine. Salads. HA!

dirk.mancuso said...

Damn -- and that looks like a great place to eat too!

I wonder what he would've said if you'd told him you were doing a piece for the paper on his establishment and he'd just cost himself 4 out of 5 stars for customer service?

dawn said...

Dude, people are Par-a-noid about picture-taking. It's crazy. Like these idiots are the first ones to come up with this concept? There are five restaurants in a 10 mile radius of me that have the exact same set-up as this dude. He's not exactly sitting on a unique idea here. What a jacktard. I just made that word up right now. I think it might be offensive, but i don't care.

Lacey said...

OKAY, I hear ya, but...would this be a case of cutting off your nose? (to spite your face?). If the employees seem nice, and you love the food..well, I'm just sayin. Probably cause I love me some salad bar. We have a salad bar at work (if you can imagine that) and the woman who makes all the salads is from Viet Nam. Her name is Ba. She hovers over the bar each day, replenishing, cleaning, primping, talking to the customers. She's wonderful. She makes this pea pod salad with some kind of Asian dressing. Yum.

Snooze said...

Looks exactly like Lettuce Eatery in Toronto. Believe me, you're better off avoiding the lack lustre salads.

Jason said...

Snooze is right. Maybe he's nervous cause he's stolen the concept from Lettuce Eatery and wants to keep a low profile.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

This is why I don't eat salads or veggies.

Serves you right, TW.

Mark in DE said...

Seems to me that by not eating at this place that SO appeals to you, you aren't hurting the asshole, you're hurting yourself.

I recommend you eat there as often as you like - and take a photo everytime you're there! That way the asshole suffers instead of you.

Besides, what's so novel about his "concept"? In America we call it a salad bar.

Mark :-)

latt├ęgirl said...

WHAT A JERK! she shouted.

Jennifer said...

I'm sadly not amazed the manager acted like such a jerk. These days people are always on the defensive before being given a reason.

We have one of these "restaurants" in Fairview shopping center and I've eaten there often. (Had a modified Cobb salad today in fact...onions for the eggs and goat cheese for the blue).

I just wanted to clarify the concept a bit, as from reading the comments it seems people think this is a self-serve salad, like a buffet of some sort. It's not, and the photo does not show any poorly arranged self-serve station. It's NOT a salad bar in the traditional, go-make-yourself-a-salad sense.

The salads are all made by a guy behind the counter. The containers simply show you your options, along with a variety of lettuces (letti? lol) and dressings. They add it all to a large silver bowl, chop it all up on a cutting board with the dressing then give it back to you in the bowl. It often looks like people are eating out of mixing bowls, that's how big they are. They can also use the ingredients to make wraps.

I'm not condoning the manager's attitude- I just wanted to set the record straight about the kind of place it was. There's nothing self-serve about it.

p.s. I say you get yourself a salad, sit facing the store and eat it slowly, with tiny bites, and a huge maniacal grin on your face while you do. Freak the guy right out!

Anonymous said...

Correct Jennifer, as a matter of fact it's not self-serve at all!!! Chop Crazy offers the opportunity to design your own combination of ingredients and chose from different types of lettuces... Foods always fresh and I sincerely think you should go meet with Charlie, the owner of that particular one you went to... Quite understanding and will make sure you get the best salad you've ever thought of having! But you don't have to sit and eat it in anyone's face just to bother them... Remeber, they are there to accomodate you sir! Unfortunately, the person you had this awkward encounter with is the franchise owner. I, Charlie, along with my family, own the restaurant and was the one explaining you the concept. I assure you that if you had gotten to our counter and ordered from any one of my employees, you would have posted a different blog. Hope to see you again one day soon,

Chop Crazy Charlie

Anonymous said...

I don't know, but the security guards at Centre Eaton would follow you if you start taking random picks (even if you are the main target and not the stores) because they think you could be trying to take pictures of thei security system... So I guess this depends on malls? But I do agree that his attitude was totally ridiculous and could have taken a better approach..

Anonymous said...

While living in Montreal, all these franchisee owners are not quite friendly, not even a smile, just price talking and thats it. They have the money to invest but lack so much on the human side. The concept in online at Chopcrazy.com or ca. There is no secret. But Montreal is turning slowly to much to my taste as a NO- CANT-DO-THAT-city.