Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Salute Thee With My Middle Finger


To the folks at Delta International Check In, the TSA and anyone else in the travel industry with a bad attitude I salute thee……with my middle finger.

Many of my loyal readers and Facebook friends know that I travel a lot.  I don't travel nearly as much as I used to but still I travel a good portion of the time for work.  On a regular basis you can see my status on Facebook (En Route ATL-Wherever). I have been on the road for 3 weeks straight and I have had it up to my frontal midsection with people in the travel industry with a bad attitude.  You see it’s a two way street.  I am keenly aware that working in the travel industry is harsh and thankless so I go the extra mile to ensure that I have empathy for the folks on the “other side of the counter”.  The rub for me is when I run into someone that doesn’t understand the meaning of ownership and responsibility.             
I am sitting at the bar of Ecco – Hartsfield, a wonderful high end restaurant in the new Hartsfield International Terminal.  Yes…many of you may not be aware that Delta and the airport combined resources to build a truly incredible terminal that is dedicated to international travel.  I love it because it is completely disconnected from the Domestic terminal and I don’t have to arrive 3 hours in advance for an international flight.  I was thanking my lucky stars about that because as luck would have it I spent an additional half hour in traffic on the connector on a Saturday afternoon.  To the Atlanta master planners and the idiot Atlanta drivers that created the traffic jam on a Saturday afternoon….FU. 

Now here comes the fun part.  I get to the international parking deck with 1 hour and 10 minutes to spare.  That’s plenty of time to get to the gate as I have already checked in and have by boarding pass.  First is the experience with the shuttle bus driver.  If you have ever seen the movie Lethal Weapon 3 and remember the chase in the very beginning of the movie where the armored car driver Delores falls in love with Mertaugh, this is our shuttle bus driver.  When she was ready to go, she was ready to go, threw the bus in drive and took off…all while a lady was still trying to get her bags situated and starts yelling “ya gotta siddown maam”!!!  As she drove aggressively out of the parking lot, the warning bell on the vehicle was indicating that she did not have her seat belt on which was yet another indicator that she did not care about her safety let alone the safety of the people on board.  So to the ATL Parking shuttle service driver I will name Delores….FU. 

I continue my journey and only a few feet away from Delores is the wonderful kiosks that I use to check in or get my updated boarding pass.  Expecting a normal response and speedy check in the unit informs me that it is too late to check in and to see and agent.  Normally I don’t mind talking to an agent but today was going to be an exception.  The person looks at the screen and grimaces…all to tell me “your late sir”.  “Late??  What do you mean late” I retort.  She informs me that the plane is departing from International Terminal E.  I respond by explaining that there is no international terminal E…only terminal E.  She explains that the gate has been changed.  I show her my slick Fly Delta app and it says to go to the International Terminal.  She responds that yes that means International Terminal E.  Then I freak out….she has now crossed the line with me when it comes to accountability.  You see…Atlanta want to great pains to separate the international terminal.  Every road sign now points to 75 South which puts you on the opposite side of the airfield from the old Terminal E.  Terminal F is the location where every departing flight for international travel is located…period.  If Delta decides to change gates to another terminal then it is their responsibility to fix the problem.  She told me that I should have been at the airport 3 hours in advance.  I informed her that my Fly Delta app did not inform me of any changes of gates and that I have been checking it since I left the house at 4:00.  So to the gate agent that thinks it is my responsibility to make sure that their methods of communication work properly and is unwilling to help…. so to these wonder people I say FU.  Luckily I was able to get on a flight 4 hours later.

Then comes the TSA inspection point.  Note to the TSA and the Atlanta airport.  You can eliminate some costs and service the public better by installing a recorded message about what you are supposed to leave on or take off with the slick video that is language agnostic.  That way I won’t have to listen another Delores say the same thing over and over again…each time with more loathing as she sees folks screw up her instructions because they either don’t understand English (gee you are at the INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL after all), are first time travelers, or are elderly and/or handicapped.  Your money would be better spent if you were to use these folks to help people instead of repeat instructions verbally over and over again in English only.  Oops I’m sorry that would require hiring someone that actually cared about servicing people.  So to the TSA agents with a bad attitude and to the TSA itself that is a useless entity….FU.

You might be laughing your tail off as you read this or you might be thinking that I am a really negative person that is whining about my “rich person problem”.  You may be a little right about the rich person problem as this is exactly what I have.  If you think you know what I mean by FU then you would most likely be wrong….watch this and find out my true meaning of FU is in the context of this entry. 


To the folks that make my flight great I just salute you (Amanda).  You are talented in people skills and genuinely care about your customers and your company. Where is my next bottle of wine??

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Restaurant Review - Branchwater Steak, Seafood and Spirits


I was really happy to see activity at the old Robin Hood (Men in Tights) Tavern.  We really need a good Steak and Seafood place near the house.  Yes, we can go to Cabernet on Windward or BistroVG in Crabapple but I like having variety within a 5 mile drive of my house.  The wife and I went to Branchwater for the first time a few months ago and we had a wonderful experience. I typically get the steak special and the wife some sort of a seafood dish.  As she can not have dairy the staff there and Chef Todd have always been accommodating for her dietary needs and even with the elimination of dairy products the food is always great.  I have a friend who is probably the best grill master I know and he is pleasantly impressed with the steaks at Branchwater which is quite a compliment from him.

I tagged this post with Small Business is America At Work as Chef Todd got it right when it came to this venue.  He didn't change everything and completely gut the interior.  Honestly the place is so well appointed that, in my opinion, is a turnkey facility for someone with the right menu and good service to turn this place into a local hotspot.  I welcome Branchwater to Vickery and wish Chef Todd the best of luck!!

Experience Review - Atlanta Motorsports Park Public Karting


A number of years ago there was a rumor circulating that someone was building a private race club in the North Georgia area.  For me this was exciting news as Road Atlanta is a great venue but just a little too far to visit on a regular basis.  Of course there were all of the usual NIMBY issues and legal battles but the folks at AMP were able to complete construction in 2012.  On a wine tour for our anniversary in 2012 we stopped by AMP for a quick tour.  What a place!! 


 Then I noticed a smaller track in the background and saw a shifter kart absolutely flying which we learned later was Chase Elliott.  We drove around the back of the course and this is where the Kart track is located. It is an absolutely top notch facility with true racing karts.  They are significantly lighter than the karts at Andretti and you are on an outdoor course with F1 style lighting, electronic warning markers and CCTV to monitor activity.  They have invested heavily in this facility and the quality shows.


 I ended up taking a friend to the AMP Karting Experience on a whim and wow....we had a very good time.  While the facility is top notch with great equipment and a great venue, the staff is very friendly and makes you feel like you are their number one priority.  The track manager Slade is a very fast driver and he gave me some great runs along with all of the staff running with us at various times during the day.  Steven, Austin, Matt, Cody are all fun to race with and are not too bossy or controlling while maintaining a good focus on safety.  Unlike Andretti it is really easy to understand your lap times and how you stack up against with your lap times published in real time and ranked historically.  My racer name is Big Al:


Go and see the guys at AMP Karting!  Be sure to drive within your skill level and get the kart insurance as there is a higher level of responsibility with these karts.  The staff at AMP Karting will make your experience a pleasurable one and I highly recommend this experience!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wine Review - A Beautiful White Burgundy

In the spirit of my sister in law moving to France this year I decided to have a variety of French wines with our multiple Christmas dinners.  I roasted a turkey on Christmas Eve and opened this beautiful bottle of Domaine de la Croix Senaillet Chardonnay.  Specifically this is from the Macon district in the Davaye village which is located in the southern Burgundy region of France.


What a magnificent wine!! The sommelier at Harry's recommended this bottle highly and indicated that this wine is very special and you don't see it very often in the States.  Even if you are not into white wine I would recommend this bottle highly if you can get your hands on it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

7 Tequilas - Round 2=Never Again

All of you know how I am just a little opinionated about things but I will let the news do the work for me.  I posted a review of 7 Tequilas on November 18th that was definitely negative.  What I did not know is that a couple of days after I ate there they were shut down for a 61 health score:

From WSB TV.com on November 19th - http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/mexican-restaurant-cumming-goes-100-61-months/nbx63/

"FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A Mexican restaurant in Cumming took a big nosedive in its health inspection scores in just four months.

Several of the violations at 7 Tequila's Cantina had to do with how the food in the kitchen was stored and kept, including some improper temperatures.

The Mexican restaurant opened in a strip mall on Post Road within the last year.

On Nov. 8, a Forsyth County health inspection found 11 violations, giving it a failing score of 61.

The violations included the men's restroom not having hot water, pre-cooked food held at temperatures less than 135 degrees and employee tasting personal food on the stove near food for sale.

The inspector also found that food in large containers on the counter tops were not effectively cooling.

The 61 was a big drop from their last inspection in July when they received a 100.

Channel 2's Carol Sbarge was told the owner was not available at the restaurant and has not heard back from him about what's being done to fix the violations.

The restaurant will be re-inspected any day. One worker told Sbarge they take great pride in doing a good job and he believes they'll get a good re-inspection"

In my opinion (along with any other food processional) these guys simply don't know how to run a restaurant.  To go from a score of 100 to a score of 61 in four months clearly tells a story about the lack of professionalism in this place.  Hopefully the guys from Bar Rescue were called for some serious re-training.  Fire your manager and hire someone that actually know what the heck they are doing.  Remember in my last article what I said about the lettering and how it really pointed to the lack of attention to detail? Nuff said and I will never set foot in there again.

Monday, November 18, 2013

First Impression - 7 Tequilas Mexican

I was so sad to see Smokejack Midway close earlier this year.  Even worse I think that we need another Mexican restaurant in our area like a hole in the head.  For me there are 3 types of Mexican style restaurants Authentic-Mex, Boutique-Mex and Fast-Mex.  We have all of these close by numbering up to 7 Mexican places in the Cumming area alone.

Authentic-Mex - You typically get this in San Diego or Dallas.  Think Roberto's in San Diego which is typically served food truck style and is something to write home about.  This is the type of Mexican that you can eat with or without a hangover unlike Fast-Mex which will give you the hangover.  The Gorditas and Carne-Asada are to die for.

Boutique-Mex - Typically a lot of thought goes into a Boutique -Mex restaurant.  The food is a creative twist on traditional Mexican with neat dishes like Albondigas (spicy meatballs) or Pescado Veracruz.  Think about places like Pure Taqueria, Cincos or Cheeky. The decor is edgy with a modern twist and is unique unto itself and has only a hint of a Mexican eatery.  The bar is top notch with creative drinks and have multiple locations with 2 hour wait times.

Fast-Mex - These places are usually put in literally any type of building you can think of.  Old houses, old D'Lites fast food locations or anywhere you put a restaurant.  Of course they have varying decor, none of which are tasteful but they give the false illusion that you are at a hacienda in Mexico.  Fast-mex will get your pre-made/microwaved food out to you in minutes after you order.  They usually get you a little wasted with the cheap pitchers of beer and tequilas in order to cover the fact that their food is really nothing better than fast food.  Think about El Torrero, Fajita's and now 7 Tequilas. Mind you if you are in the mood for this type of food...it can be really good such as El Torrero which I have been frequenting for 30 plus years.

So lets look at my first impression of 7 Tequilas.  I was surprised that after Smokejack closed that it took over 2 months for 7 Tequilas to open its doors.  Angela can't eat this type of food so I decided to try 7 Tequilas with a colleague at work .  As I walked up to the door I looked over my shoulder and said to my friend "This is going to suck". Why you might ask?  Well, the vinyl lettering showing their hours of operation were crooked by over an inch meaning this was visible from the street over 100 feet away.  It was this obvious lack of attention to detail at the very onset of my experience here that set the tone for the rest of the meal.  They completely revamped the interior decor and in my opinion did so many things that they did not need to do to the interior of this place. The menu was the stereotypical Fast-Mex menu with the usual numbered lunch specials and some unique items as well.  I ordered the Lunch #1 with Rice and beans.  This was definitely not a place to write home about.  The service was lackluster and the food both my friend and I had was bland and did not sit well with us.  Maybe I will try it again....or maybe not.  The lettering is still crooked....I wont go back till that is fixed.




Thursday, September 26, 2013

OVR Coffee Cafe - Who Says Vegan Food Can't Be Good??

When there was some activity at the old site of Sidneys Italian and we found out what it was going to be, my wife and I were very excited about a new restaurant coming to Vickery.  The last place (Mommy Francis Down Home Whatever) was a complete joke and we have always felt it would be nice to have a really cool coffee shop in the Vickery area.  Something edgy and hip (not hipster) that could catch the interest of folks but still have that small town feel.  Well Lynette at OVR has nailed it when it comes to a specialty coffee shop.  The experience at OVR is quite different than anything that I have experienced and the quality that sets OVR apart from lets say a Starbucks is that the coffee and food is an art form rather than a business.

Simplicity is the name of the game at OVR with the concrete floors, bamboo tables and aluminum chairs.  Gone are the high gloss gold tones of Sidneys replaced with white and grey.  The view of that killer kitchen is preserved which is where you will find Lynette whipping up some sort of a culinary creation.


Creativity is the central theme here and the ideas are flowing constantly from the menu on the wall of the coffee bar.  The menu is dynamic and ever changing and there are many surprises in store for someone that will venture into OVR during the day.  Whats so creative about the food??  Well, the fact that you cant tell it is vegan is the surprise of the day.  The myth about vegan food being tastless or bad is just not true.  Try the carrot cake with cream cheese icing.....wait a minute...its vegan right so no dairy?  Yes, and the carrot cake is probably some of the best carrot cake I have ever had.  It never lasts long at our house.  Stop by for breakfast over the weekend and get the Rosemary Onion Potato tart or the breakfast rolls.  The breakfast rolls sell out quickly so check out Facebook to see when they are coming out of the oven. For you men out there that will not step into a vegan eatery, when it comes to OVR you don't have to check in your man card here. You wont turn into a unic and start singing soprano or lose your manhood because you ate some cake made with soy product.  As a matter of fact you wont even notice the difference.


So first impressions have been very positive but there is a twist to this story which is why it ends up in my "Small Business is America At Work" series.  If you read the post where I explained this category Lynette falls squarely in the position of being passionate and loving what she does.  OVR is the quintessential definition of a small business.  She has family helping her and a small staff that produces a high quality product that far exceeds the big box competitors for the same price.  Lynette pays attention to details and it is evident in both the facility she runs as well as the food and drink that is served there.  Other than the food it is Lynette and her staff that keeps us coming back day after day for good conversation and the funky personalities that we find here.  In short...I highly recommend OVR Coffee Cafe and I hope you come out and support our local small businesses.