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Good food and arrogant SOB restaurant owner - which trumps?

I wonder what other chow lovers do when they're faced with the dilemma of loving in a suburb (Rockland) and not having a lot of choices for decent, local eats.

So, my problem is pastrami. I have found only one local deli and the pastrami is usually very good. BUT, i hate the owner. He is not at all friendly.

What do you do? I don't want to put money in his pocket, because he's an arrogant SOB, but I don't want to lose out on a good sandwich once in a while?

Thanks for listening.

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  1. I have to be true to myself first.....boycott the SOB

    1. If the sammie is that good, ignore the basted and enjoy yourself.

      Automatic weapons? No soup for you, redfish!

      1. I'm with fourunder . . .part of the experience is customer service. Of course, that's easy for me to say, since I have multiple good deli options.

        1. Depends how bad it is, I guess. If he's actively horrible to you to the point that it is not enjoyable, then I wouldn't go. If he's just a jerk but you don't have to interact much with him, then I'd go. Maybe take out? I wouldn't boycott or try to punish him for being unfriendly if his food is good and it doesn't affect me much (and he's not abusive or discriminatory - that would be a different thing). Here in Seattle we have a famous lunch place where the owner is our own version of the soup nazi (only with freshly roasted turkey sandwiches). He's not friendly, but you only interact with him for 10 seconds and he's just abrupt but keeps the line moving which is great if you have a limited lunch hour since the line is often out the door. There, the food trumps.

          1. Go there, order the sandwich, and kill the owner with kindness. Praise his pastrami, inquire about his day, and mention how much you love the neigborhood. Eventually he may warm up.

            4 Replies
            1. re: cheesecake17

              I think that is a fine reply. You do not know what is going on with him. Give a person a chance to be nice or personable or maybe just tolerable. Your world will be better for it AND you will be eating some good pastrami.

              TWO high fives.

              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                Buy you a corned beef, put It in a smoker for about 8 hrs. Grill ya some rye bread with your horse sauce some cheese , maybe some grilled onions;*) You won't need to go Back.. HaHa Nothing better than homemade sammies!!!!!!!!!

              2. re: cheesecake17

                "kill the owner with kindness. Praise his pastrami, inquire about his day, and mention how much you love the neigborhood. Eventually he may warm up."

                Or he may eventually realise you're just taking the piss. But, hopefully, not too soon.

                1. re: cheesecake17

                  That's the kind of answer I like all the better for it not being what I first thought of myself. It's good to be set back a little by "oh ... I didn't think of being nice" once in a while! Thank you.

                  That said, I probably wouldn't give the miserable SOB MY money. heh. But I *like* this answer better.

                2. I don't want to put money in his pocket, because he's an arrogant SOB

                  Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

                  Head down to Harold's II kosher Superette on a Wednesday.....They have a Pastrami special for $5.25......you can even get Corned Beef for the same price too.

                  1. If his behavior is out of line, boycott.
                    There is a much praised restaurant in our town with a racist owner. The mediterranean food is good and inexpensive but his rants are not worth the price. Yelp reviewers always say "Oh, he's just a character" but after two visits (one with an anti-Chinese rant and one with anti-Jewish rant), we don't want to put money in his pocket.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ola

                      I think that your situation is WAY different than "he is not at all friendly" and "arrogant SOB".

                      The OP needs to clear up what he means or the presumptions here will get ridiculous, not to mention libelous considering the OP has told us the City and that it is the only local Deli.

                      1. re: Cathy

                        For me, the city means nothing. There is a Rockland in every state I have visited.

                        1. re: Cathy

                          Rockland is a very big county outside of New York City with probably 50 towns.....the place has not lost its anonymity.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            Then there must be more than one good deli.

                      2. good food trumps assholes

                        1. Good topic philorock. As other hounds have said. the level of SOB behavior matters. For some reason I am right now daydreaming about my trips to France. :)
                          I think that business owners who are perfectionists in the food they prepare and how they run their place can end up not being fun to be around. But omg the food! To give that much attentive care to what they are selling makes them a bit compulsive and obsessive I think. It's hard to find everything in one package if you see what I mean. Someone more laid back and friendly might not have the same passion and fire.
                          For example there is one chocolatier I know of who manages to be civil and pleasant to his customers, but you can tell he is forcing it. Once I watched him work on a large chocolate rabbit and he was cursing under his breath the entire time, not aware that I could hear him. I turned away and smiled to myself. The guy was a maniac creating art. And smart enough to mostly let his wife and helpers wait on the customers.
                          Maybe if you find your calling in life and do it very very well, you're bound to feel a little arrogant. What troubles me more is places where the owner/chef busts his or her butt making incredible food but is cursed by incompetent staff, usually family members. There was a barbecue place near me that closed down even though they had amazing barbecue and great attention to detail. But every time I went I either got a really incompetent lady who always screwed up orders, or a really unfriendly one. What a tragedy.

                          1. After 15 years in Pastrami starved CT we are not talking good food but good pastrami, that is a whole other discussion.

                            If the guy was just nasty, it could just be his LES shtick that he thinks he is cute and is a Catskills-wannabee. For example the guys at the Carnegie Deli could be considered nasty or adorable depending on your POV. If he threw racial slurs, there is no pastrami in the world or any other food that I would add my money to his coffers.

                            I do have one or two restaurants that I will boycott where i live for differing reasons. Even after I mentioned the offensive issue to management, it continued and I place integity above good food every day of the week and will vote with my feet and wallet.

                            As others have said, if he is not friendly, so what, but if he is offensive, no way.

                            1. According to my first eating tutor: The more arrogant the deli owner, the better the pastrami.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: beevod

                                Wow beevod, you just said what I said only so much more succinctly.

                                1. re: beevod

                                  Wow, this is such a vivid illustration of the cultural divide between upstate & downstate NY. Upstaters may put a lower value than this on pastrami, but they definitely have a lower tolerance than this for arrogance.

                                2. This is a tricky one. The level and the focus of the behavior all go into my reaction. As many others have stated, bigoted behavior I will not support no matter how good the food is. Food prepared in an environment of hate is not well prepared IMO.

                                  I had this dilemma with the best seafood market in town. The owner was great, but the woman you placed your order with was just beastly, argumentative and plain nasty to deal with. I've worked retail for years and am not a demanding or rude customer. I say my pleases and thank-yous and don't ask for special treatment. After a while I found I just wasn't wanting seafood as frequently, and eventually stopped going there due to the woman's behavior. Fortunately a new market with lovely service and better location opened a few years later!

                                  If the experience leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you'll find yourself going there less and less.

                                  1. We have a cheese "shoppe" in town (the name being one of two reasons not to patronize it... shopPE? ugh) whose owner is unfriendly, arrogant, and in general doesn't seem to be particularly interesting in moving a lot of his product.

                                    I've gone there twice within the last 7 years or so (a Wegmans opening made cheese shopping THAT much easier, and the quality of his cheese isn't nearly as fab as he thinks it is "we have the best Morbier outside of France" - sure you do), the second time was recently when I had something Epoisses-y in mind, but not as expensive.

                                    He was so unhelpful that I've decided to continue to take my money elsewhere. You don't want it? Fine.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Anywhere that calls itself a "shoppe" deserves to be out of business by the end of the week.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Harters, during this season on this side of the pond we are incessantly encouraged to shoppe til we droppe.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          LOL. That'll be why this side of the pond guaranteed traps for North American tourists are likely to be called "Ye Olde Englande xxxxxx Shoppe". Seemingly invariably knitwear (knitweare?)

                                    2. You're just buying a sandwich, not a wedding dress or life insurance. If the pastrami is fabulous, who cares about enduring 5 minutes of asshole for 10 minutes of delicious? Don't take it personally and enjoy your food.

                                      Now, if the food ever stops being good, then you're paying for insult AND injury and it's time to bail.

                                      1. In our house, good food trumps anything but bigotry or behavior that is meant to be a *personal* insult.

                                        I've seen the former on few occasions, and experienced the latter just once. If I receive service that is merely brusque, I honestly don't bat an eye, but they damn well better give me food that makes *me* smile.

                                        ETA: As another poster pointed out, you are talking about pastrami. At my deli, we are greeted by a butcher with face made of stone that manages to either say," yes?" or just lift one beleagered eyebrow to indicate he is ready for our order. If that sounds like *your* guy, then I have to say that doesn't even register with us. It neither stops us from asking questions about their products nor, eagerly, ordering them.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: onceadaylily

                                          this is exactly the kind of guy i'm talking about. and i appreciate your reply and a bunch of others. me thinks i'm just a little too sensitive and have high expectations about what i deserve as a customer.

                                          he is not inappropriate nor makes any nasty or racial comments to his patrons. thanks for the helpful suggestions from you and all of the others.

                                          1. re: philorock

                                            Ah, I see. I am glad I threw that last bit in then. What I keep in mind in this situation is that these people are trained in not 'customer service', but *skilled* in a trade that is physically demanding, fairly exacting, and not for the squeamish. If those people can give you a good product, at a price you like, then a smile is something that perhaps comes only when your relationship with that person achieves its own weight. I've gotten a quick smile or two from the particular butcher I am thinking of, and I've had doctors who smiled at me less. I begrudge neither.

                                            1. re: philorock

                                              <he is not inappropriate nor makes any nasty or racial comments to his patrons>

                                              if he is not a truly horrible person and is appropriate toward customers, then why on earth would you call him "arrogant," and what did he do to deserve you calling him an "SOB" in the title of your post? should he be throwing glitter and whisking the crumbs off your counter stool with a feather duster as you walk in the door, hand out 75% off coupons to every customer, or. . . what, exactly-- other than working long hours making and selling pastrami as his family's livelihood? guess what, his feet probably hurt.

                                              nobody can be a perfect 10 in all of their attributes. there are plenty of charming and nice people in the restaurant biz who can't cook worth a damn-- too bad it's about food and not a miss congeniality contest. there are a lot of brilliant surgeons and computer geeks who are very talented at their jobs with zero in the way of personality, and i'd rather have them work on my body or my machine than their colleague who's all charm and no skill. . . if a person has a somewhat salty personality but makes great food, i'll happily buy and eat the food, thanks, and the rest is "atmosphere."

                                              sorry op, i'm not trying to come across as harsh, but what did this guy ever do to you, besides make pastrami that you enjoy? imo it's *you* who probably needs the attitude adjustment. chances are once you cut this guy a little slack and stop going into this proprietor's establishment with the idea that he is a (insert SOB or other derogatory phrase here) who *owes* you something intangible besides the product he sells, the two of you may actually find out that you get along. for all you know, the guy is a hard nut to crack, but underneath the brusque exterior is a heart of gold, whose only normal expression is through the medium of meticulously crafted, tasty pastrami! or, yeah-- he may actually be close to a zero on personality (but not in an inappropriate or offensive to customers way), but, you still get the tasty pastrami ;-P so it's still not a bad deal for you.

                                          2. I really, really want to say that the attitude trumps and I wouldn't go to that particular place. But, hell, short of the person being a hateful bastard, I'll likely end up choosing the food.

                                            1. I don't have a high tolerance for rudeness. Don't act like you're doing me a favor by taking my money.

                                              If I really enjoyed the food and the owner was just kind of indifferent, I could probably deal with it. If they were rude to me, no. I wouldn't. If they were noticeably rude to their staff, I would definitely not come back. I'd probably tell him why, as well.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Azizeh

                                                I see where you are coming from Azizeh but as I was reading your post I couldn't help but think of the vast differences between businesses. I have a pretty high tolerance for rudeness because I am a gamer and regularly go to gaming shops. I guess my non-food hobbies influence my chowhounding too. Gaming shops almost always have owners and/or employees who act like they are doing you a HUGE favor by taking your money. :)

                                              2. The kind of behavior clarified by the OP would not even merit a bat of the eye at a counter place, IMHO. I mean, really friendly counter service is great, but brusque and hurried is to be expected when a place is constantly swamped with customers. Even if I swore the look conveyed contempt for all that I hold dear as a person, I'd overlook it unless he actually said or did something offensive.

                                                1. generally the food trumps the owner. just as i don't judge art by the artists personality. that said if one is actively rude or argumentative to me (as opposed to what the OP described) i may not return. but i live in NYC and there is very little that i can't get someplace else - s i'm not sacrificing much.

                                                  there is one pizzeria i won't go to anymore because the guy was a dick to me and there was one coffee shop i refused to go to for 30 +years because they guy yelled at my dad when i was a kid for reading the newspaper that was sitting on the counter, telling him it wasn't his paper to read.

                                                  when that coffee shop closed after nearly 4 decades of my not going i thought to myself "haha - i win"

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    "when that coffee shop closed after nearly 4 decades of my not going i thought to myself "haha - i win""

                                                    My boycott of 25 yrs. + of Montgomery Wards was successful too! :-D

                                                    There are so many similar places for a dollar to be spent. I am frequently puzzled by places that fail to understand how the person the customer is dealing with often is the one who can make or break the relationship. In the food business that person is often the lowest paid and the least trained. Go figure...

                                                  2. Your situation sounds like the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. I can't remember how it was resolved - or if it was resolved.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Delphine

                                                      the guy went out of business....by choice.

                                                    2. First of all, I guess I don't get the, "...but this is pastrami" pass some here have expressed. Maybe I just don't get pastrami. It's too fatty and salty for my palate.

                                                      For me, I can get insults, arrogance, etc. for free. I'm not about to pay anyone for the privilege, no matter what they are selling and how good it is.There are two car dealers in my area I will not do business with because of arrogant and abusive conduct...20 years ago.

                                                      when that coffee shop closed after nearly 4 decades of my not going i thought to myself "haha - i win"

                                                      I guess there's hope for my boycotts of Sears and Burger King : > )

                                                      1. The Pastrami Nazi! I would try to think of his personality defect as simply unfortunate, learn to expect it, laugh it off and enjoy my pastrami.

                                                        1. Sigh....good food versus arrogant owner is a funny conflict in our marriage.

                                                          There is a fantastic restaurant we all (I am including our friends and family in the all) like to visit but the wife half of the couple that owns the place is a complete and total sounds-like-witch.

                                                          I have been eating there since I was a teenager, more than 25 years, and jointly with my husband and our friends for 17 years.

                                                          I would consider us to be good customers. We know how to behave, the waitresses joke that they fight over who gets to wait on us. We arrive early and have drinks at the bar until our reservation time.

                                                          We always order appetizers, desserts, coffees, bottles of wine - we spend a lot of money when we visit. I don't say that to brag, just making the point that she doesn't have an economic reason for trying to run us off.

                                                          Point being, for 17 years we have been asking ourselves "did we do something to offend her? is it us? or is it her?" At one point we learned that it wasn't us, that she is also horrible to other regulars.
                                                          It is almost comical. She will be all sweet and bubbly to the party in front of us and then come back to seat us with a snear on her face. We will say good evening, how are you tonight and so on and she refuses to speak.

                                                          Each visit (we go several times a year) my husband declares we will never return or maybe just once more so he can ask her why she is such a 6itch to us. Then I remind him that the food is so good, he orders entrees to take home. After a few weeks he forgets his anger and we return.

                                                          1. You say you "don't want to put money in his pocket",
                                                            but it's not like you are just going there to give him money.

                                                            You, go, you give him money, and in return he gives you a delicious sandwich!

                                                            I agree with those who say, as long as he has not been overtly rude, then who cares if the food is good!?

                                                            1. Many years ago, I had an unfortunate run-in with a prosperous restaurant owner in town. He was rude, insensitive - reduced me to tears. I will never step foot in his restaurant again - there are always other places to enjoy my time - not the only game in town. If this was a situation with a server, I would give the place another shot, but the owner - FAHGEDABOUDIT!

                                                              1. I would give up eating pastrami before I'd give that idiot another nickel.