Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why I’m Boycotting Waxy O’Connor’s and Hope You Will, Too

Karma, karma, karma. A friend of mine was recently hanging out at Waxy's and had a pool cue thrown at him for standing near the pool table. The bouncer did nothing. The air conditioning was out on Saturday. My buddy Jose mentioned how he was recently driving by and saw several tow trucks removing cars from the lot behind Waxy's while an employee looked on from the rear entrance. This reminded me to post what I wrote over a month ago about an unpleasant experience I had at that very bar. If you have some time, please do read -

"Why I'm Boycotting Waxy O'Connor's and Hope You Will, Too"

June 4, 2009

Miami Beach, FL - Last night after work I drove down to my second favorite Miami Beach watering hole (Ted's Hideaway is #1), Waxy O’Connor’s (commonly known as Waxy’s), to meet my pal Jose and celebrate his 26th birthday. I arrived to find the parking lot unusually empty, but figured maybe it was a bit early to be there since it was just about 6:30pm when I did.

I parked next to Jose’s shiny new black Nissan Altima in the section with “Waxy’s” printed on the concrete wheel stops. I noticed there was no parking attendant and, as I approached the rear entrance, saw that there was a sign that said “ATTENTION WAXY’S CUSTOMERS – NO PARKING IS ALLOWED AFTER 6:30 WITHOUT PARKING TICKET…” blah blah blah, something about towing, etc. I hustled in to find Jose and find out what the deal was with parking, of course. I’m not a moron. I went to Tufts. You might not have heard of it if you’re stupid and from South Florida, in which case you will need a dictionary to read this article.

I don’t mean to imply that stupidity and South Florida nativity go hand-in-hand, necessarily. There are just more stupid people here than in other places I’ve lived. It’s a fact [note: this may or may not be a fact but it’s certainly supported by vast anecdotal evidence]. I worry that I may be becoming one of those stupid people and therefore should not be held responsible for the actions I am about to describe.

Upon finding Jose, he ushered me to the bar where an employee of Waxy’s grabbed a piece of paper that said “Waxy O’Connors PARKING PERMIT…” and had several official looking, color stamps with the day’s date. It said some other stuff about not parking after 6:30 but I didn’t think it mattered since said employee told me to put it in my car and that I would be fine. “Oh great,” I thought to myself. I’ll just head out and put that in my dashboard and be all set. Jose said he had asked specifically about the “6:30” thing and this same guy told him it was all set and he just needed that paper and he’d be fine. As I mentioned, Jose has a new car about which he is concerned, so he made sure it was fine to park there.

Was this unreasonable? Were we being really stupid to believe that an employee of the bar was giving us sound parking advice for the parking lot at the establishment where he worked? It was already 6:30 by this time and still there was no parking lot attendant.

We returned to the bar and had a lovely evening of moderate drinking (I had 3 Guinnesses over 3 hours) and spirited conversation with a bunch of friends, with a nice background of country tunes picked by my buddy Andy . I think he must have put $20 in the jukebox or something because every song I heard last night was picked by him. We also played lots of games of darts. That’s always fun. I had some of Waxy’s delicious shepard’s pie for dinner, a dish that, for some reason, women almost unanimously find disgusting. So disgusting, in fact, that they feel compelled to tell you right to your face how disgusting they think it is, whether you are about to eat it, are in the process of doing so, or have just wiped your mouth after having finished. Women. I mean, am I right? Women? Ha!

Around 9:40 I decided to wrap things up and get my check, so I paid my tab, left a generous tip, and made my goodbyes. I walked out to find our cars gone. I ran inside to get Jose and deliver the news I was certain would ruin his birthday. There was now a parking lot attendant who told us “there was nothing he could do” and that the tow truck guys come by and just tow any cars that don’t have a stub from him. He was quite apologetic.

Rather upset at the prospect of paying who-knows-what to get our cars back from Beach Towing, we went inside to ask why we were towed. Paula, the cute brunette waitress on whom everyone I know has a crush (not I of course, since I have a wonderful, beautiful girlfriend), said that if she had known we were parked there she would have told us not to do so. She had a sad look on her face. She’s a sweetie.

My brother drove Jose and me (not “Jose and I,” you people who try to sound smart and fail miserably) over to the tow lot only to find a line of people more aggrieved than we were. The woman in front of us said she was towed from a handicapped spot she was authorized to be in (that story is a little fishy, I agree). The man behind us once had his car towed and then auctioned off because Beach Towing had “accidentally” written down the wrong license plate number and said they didn’t have his car. The gentleman behind him had been towed from the lot at his own office (happened to my brother once). Sounds about right if you’ve lived here and dealt with either the class acts from Beach or Tremont (owned by the same people, I believe).

The guy behind the necessary bullet-proof glass was actually rather polite. He said that the attendant in the lot called them and told them to tow us and that we must have been parked in the wrong spots. He even suggested taking pictures and contesting the tow charges. Didn’t mean we didn’t have to pay $185 each to get our cars back. Some birthday present for Jose.

We both decided to return to Waxy’s to ask for the manager and explain our plight. I was elated to find an opportunity to quote one of my favorite movie lines, yelling to my brother to prepare people that I was coming and that I was “bringing Hell with me." That’s from Tombstone, in case you’re wondering.

The manager, Alex, a nice fellow, told us “there was nothing he could do” (are we seeing a trend?) and how terrible he felt but that we should return to talk to the owner. He gave us the card of Richard Carmichael and said he’d be around after 9am the next day.

So, today I drove down there to see Mr. Carmichael and explained to him very politely (though he probably thinks I’m a total dick) how I had been towed and that I was a faithful customer who saw all the big boxing matches there and had spent the last two St. Patrick’s Days there (they’ve only been open in Miami for that many). I said that we had come with a group of 11 for a friend’s birthday party. I told him that I thought it was fair to say that it was confusing to be given a piece of paper with stamps on it and told at 6:30pm that it was fine to park in the rear lot and then be towed.

Carmichael read the message on the paper and told me “here, it says here very clearly…”. As I said before, I’m not a moron. I know what it says. I can read English. I said to him “you’re speaking to me like I’m a moron. I know what it says.” I’m frankly tired of writing about it. He simply did not care and said, all together now, “there was nothing he could do” and that the owner of the property had put this in place and it was not his fault.

I was getting sick of hearing that and reminded of another favorite movie, “Man on Fire”, the main character of which I was beginning to feel a lot of kinship towards. He gets tired of hearing everyone tell him “it was just business." Of course there was something he could do. He could pay us back $185 each.

The conversation went on for some time as I pleaded with him for some rectification of my situation. He did not budge and was becoming annoyed with me. I decided to leave, turned and said I would never be back. When I say that, I mean it.

I called Jose and told him what to expect. He went in to see Mr. Carmichael as well, who told him the exact same thing he had told me. Jose demanded he be paid back for the tow charge, but Carmichael refused. The bartender who had screwed us with the parking passes and bad advice was also there. Jose asked him why he had told us it was ok to park and the guy became defensive and said “I’m not a scumbag." Hmm, was there a kickback from the tow company perhaps?

Carmichael then told Jose that if he could produce a receipt he would reimburse him for what he had spent at the bar. Jose had paid in cash and gotten no receipt so he was out of luck. But he called me to see if I had one. Which I did…

We made a little hand-off at 41st Street where I gave him my $51.55 receipt. I said it might not work since I had told the guy I was never coming back and that it was unlikely an Irishman would forget my name. That's pretty funny, I think. When Jose returned to the bar, the owner was gone. The same bartender who had screwed us by giving us the parking passes was there and gave Jose a gift certificate for $50 (“*only good after 7pm” was written on it by hand, which seems spiteful but I don’t know why), with Jose’s name on it, not mine. When Jose asked about me, the bartender said “nope, just you."

Jose doesn’t want to go back there ever again either, so he doesn’t want the gift certificate. He also wanted me to be reimbursed since he felt bad that celebrating his birthday had cost me so much money. The problem is that I don’t want it either. Maybe I’ll sell it.

So, long story long, I guess customer loyalty doesn’t mean anything at Waxy’s, so I say “f*** ‘em." Please support your pal Colin by stopping in as you pass by Waxy’s and tell them why you won’t be patronizing that bar any longer. Unless you think I’m an idiot who’s in the wrong, in which case, feel free to remind me that “there was nothing they could do."

Eat It - David's Cafe II, 1654 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, FL (305)672-8707

www.davidscafe.com

I've eaten at David's many times, but haven't yet given it a full review. I eat at the little walk-up window pretty regularly (every time I go to Buck 15). It's just off Lincoln Rd. I don't think I've ever been inside the one on Collins.

You really can't beat a couple of empanadas, a croqueta or three, and a medianoche at 4am. It's a good way to avoid a hangover, maybe. And even though they had a drive-by shooting there last year, it's usually pretty safe because of all the cops who go there. I wonder if they eat for free. That reminds me of how the Rhode Island state troopers often ate dinner at my boarding school's cafeteria. It was a good policy for the monks who didn't really obey traffic laws so well.

Anyway, some of my Mexican cousins are in town and we met them last night at the main sit-down restaurant (there's a little diner-looking portion on the northerly side of the building). We started with some mojitos. They make good ones there, though the mint was a little brown, which detracted from their enticement.

I ordered churrasco (skirt steak) and it came with the most delicious chimichurri sauce I've ever had. It was really citrusy. I ended up putting some on my rice and beans, it tasted so good. The portion of steak was underwhelming, especially considering the prices, which have gone up and are not accurate on the website, for your information. The website lists the churrasco at $17.95 and it's now around $21. I'm noticing, just as I did at Joe Allen, that menus have weird denominations now. Or did they always? The online menu shows an item that's $14.25. Do they think that diners don't just round up the numbers? I don't know, I guess I round down 14.25 to 14, but I definitely round 17.95 up to 18.

Over all, the menu seemed a little bit more expensive than it should have been, but they probably have to pay Craig Robins exhorbitant rent because of the proximity to Lincoln Rd. Cuban food is simple, and it shouldn't be expensive. The churrasco I was served could probably be bought, wholesale, for 4 or 5 bucks, so to couple that with some rice and beans and charge $21 seems like a rip-off. My aunt and uncle picked up the check, though, so maybe that's why it didn't affect my enjoyment of the meal.

The sides were all good, though David's is a greasy toston purveyor, as are many Cuban restaurants. The bread was unusually good. It was buttery and garlicy egg bread, the same kind used for making medianoches.

When I woke up this morning, I had a hangover of sorts. I realized that all that garlic was still with me and I was incredibly thirsty. I guess that's the price one pays to enjoy Cuban food.

Anyway, I like David's, but when I'm paying I prefer the window.

This post isn't very interesting or funny. I feel terrible about that. I think I'm going to post my Waxy O'Connor boycott now. That's a good read.