Summer in the City
You know what’s wrong with society today? This: Even the dude photographed in Central Park for a New Yorkers–are–relaxing–on–a-sunny–summer–Friday beauty shot is busy working on his cell phone and laptop. Well, that and the Bush administration.
Young Cratchits Canned by Fire Island Scrooge? Is a commercial-property baron in the Fire Island Pines micromanaging his cute young staffers’ personal lives like an old-school MGM matron? A few years ago, gay fortysomething developer Eric von Kuersteiner bought, for a rumored $7 million, most of the cedar-shingled business strip that abuts the Pines’ ferry landing. Each summer, he hires a slew of twentysomething male hotties, many of them out-of-towners, to bartend and wait tables (often shirtless) at his establishments, most notably the Pavilion, a late-night disco. But several longtime Pines-goers and former staffers say that he forbids the boys from entering a neighboring rival club, Sip ‘n’ Twirl, off hours. They also allege that Von Kuersteiner discourages them from dating patrons, fires them capriciously, and kicks them out of his housing and off the island.
Takin’ Care of Business
We can’t decide if this dude — photographed by dedicated Daily Intel reader Simon Curtis last night at Broadway and West 55th Street — is actually, really, legitimately working from his car (which would be kind of cool), making some sort of statement on America’s automobile culture or the high rents in midtown Manhattan (which would be less cool but still sort of interesting), or simply engaging in a PR stunt (in which case we’ve been suckered). It was a nice night for it, at least.
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‘Radar’ Finds a Permanent(ish) Home
Back in October, the Observer reported that third-time’s-the-charm Radar magazine was thisclose to moving into a permanent office. And it wasn’t just any office; the space near Columbus Circle was home to Esquire until the new Hearst Tower opened. “I think it’s all but signed,” Radar editor Maer Roshan said at the time, noting that old Esquire posters still dotted the walls and that the space came with “the apparatus of making magazines.” But he also told Off the Record reporter Michael Calderone that he wasn’t taking the space in an attempt to ape the venerable men’s mag’s success: “I’m a great fan of Esquire, but it didn’t really play a role in our decision.” And a good thing, too, judging from the mass e-mail just arrived from Radar senior writer Jeff Bercovici.
Pols Come Out to Support Saigon Grill Workers; Delivery Service Still SuspendedThe battle of Saigon Grill rages on. Two weeks after the Vietnamese mini-chain locked out its delivery workers, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 36 of those workers — and today a gaggle of New York politicians joined the Chinese Staff and Workers Association’s daily protests at the Upper West Side location. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called conditions for delivery workers “a dirty secret that needs to get exposed.” “Being paid $1.60 an hour, sometimes getting robbed and told to reimburse the employer … is unacceptable in today’s society,” he said. State Senator Eric Schneiderman, who spoke in both English and Mandarin, said he believed there was “strong evidence” that Saigon Grill’s Chinese-Cambodian owner, Simon Nget, was trying to get the workers to sign “an illegal contract” before he locked them out. A state assemblywoman and a city councilwoman were there, too, and Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Charlie Rangel sent representatives. And while all of this is going on, there’s also this bad news: There’s still no delivery service. —Mary Reinholz
Earlier: Labor Troubles at Saigon Grill Mean No Delivery for You
Victorious Chinese Workers Celebrate Belated New Year
The Chinese New Year ended more than a week ago, but Chinese Staff and Workers Association — a militant labor-rights group trying to gain better pay and conditions for employees in the city’s Chinese restaurants — held a celebration at P.S. 2 on Henry Street yesterday. “It’s the Golden Year of the Pig, and it will be good for workers,” said Wing Lam, the group’s executive director. It’s a moment for the association to be celebrating: Its members refused to sign a contract with the Saigon Grill mini-chain, which led the restaurant to suspend its delivery service last week, and in February a federal judge ruled that managers at the 88 Palace restaurant on East Broadway wrongfully pocketed a service charge the restaurant had imposed on banquet tabs, ordering owners to fork over to eleven busboys and waiters some $700,000 in gratuities and other costs dating to 2002. Lawyers for 88 Palace’s owners have filed an appeal, and they’re also fighting the workers’ attorneys’ request for close to $1 million in legal fees. But for now, at least, happy Year of the Pig. —Mary Reinholz
Labor Troubles at Saigon Grill Mean No Delivery for YouIt’s cold enough this week to make you reconsider going out for dinner. But if you’re craving Vietnamese, you might have a problem. The popular Saigon Grill mini-chain, with locations on the Upper West Side and in the East Village (and a third, closed for renovation, on the Upper East Side), hasn’t been offering delivery since it locked out 22 deliverymen Friday night. “I told them to leave because they tried to extort,” owner Simon Nget, a Chinese Cambodian refugee, said last night. At an 11:30 meeting Friday, he asked the workers to sign a form he’d prepared, stipulating that they received adequate wages and would not sue him. A representative of the workers, he said, mentioned a $700,000 settlement paid to nine employees, which he said made him feel “threatened.”
Time Inc. Staffers (Who Didn’t Lose Jobs) Lose Cheap CDs
As if a few hundred layoffs weren’t bad enough, there’s more bad news this week for Time Inc.-ers: The company announced it’s shuttering the Time Inc. Bookstop, a fixture on the second floor of the Time & Life Building, in March. A company-wide memo noted that “many nearby and online shops” provide “alternatives for purchasing cards, books, music, and DVDs,” which is true enough. But the Bookstop offered special prices on company merchandise and holds a special place in the hearts of those who recall that 1989 merger of Time Inc. and Warner Bros., when the store began selling CDs from all the Warner-affiliated record labels at absurdly low prices — as low as $6. No cash was required; by flashing their I.D. cards, company workers could stock up on old Neil Young or Talking Heads discs or pick up the latest from Madonna or Prince, and have the bill deducted directly from their next paycheck. But those days are gone, and Warner Bros. Records isn’t even part of Time Warner anymore. Still, for anyone who ever worked there — including, disclosure, this reporter — it’s a demise as saddening as Tower’s. —David Browne
in other news
Left Behind: Editors-in-Chief Are Different From You and Me EditionThing’s You’d Find in Our Office If We Were Fired
Desk drawer: Post-its, rubber bands, tampon, CapitalOne bill, draft of resume
Shoved in closet: All papers belonging to previous resident of office
Tacked to wall: Picture of ex (forgot to take down)
Things HarperCollins Found in Judith Regan’s Office After She Was Fired
Desk drawer: Financial statements, will, children’s report cards, divorce papers
Shoved in closet: Clothing, unopened Christmas gifts
Hung on wall: 30-foot high painting of Judith Regan
Pinup Emotions Surface in Wake of Regan’s Firing [NYDN]
in other news
The Best Places to Work Are in New York, or So We’ll ArgueFortune magazine has come out with its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list (compiled yearly by the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco, surely a great place to work but probably ineligible for consideration). Unsurprisingly, Google debuts as the top dog. With all the recent chatter about the search giant’s new Manhattan office and its Cafeteria of Wonders, one would almost be forgiven for thinking of the G-Double-O-Gizzle as a hometown operation; alas, it’s still headquartered in Silicon Valley. Worry not, though — there’s a bona fide (quasi-)local in the top ten. Fortune’s No. 3 best place to work is Rochester-based Wegmans Food Markets, which is famous for doing the supermarket thing with a shocking twist: good service. Extending a similarly classy approach to its inner workings, the privately held company flies all new full-time employees to Rochester to meet with the Mr. Wegman. Plus, three additional members of the top ten aren’t New York–based but — like Google — list the Big Apple as one of their top markets: Container Store (No. 4), Whole Foods (No. 5), and Boston Consulting Group (No. 8). So we might not have one of the top-ten best companies within the five boroughs, but, hey, if you need a consultation on what kind of box to put your heirloom tomatoes in, you know where to go.
Top 10 Best Companies to Work For [CNNMoney]