Letters Column

Week of May 10, 2006

Still Cookin'!
At a ceremony in New York City last weekend, Riverfront Times staff writer Kristen Hinman won a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for her March 16, 2005, feature "Something Fishy." The story explored how the global shortage of Caspian Sea caviar is making the Mississippi and Missouri rivers — and their population of shovelnose sturgeon — the next big thing in the caviar trade. Hinman's story was honored in the category "Newspaper Feature Writing Without Recipes."

This is the second straight year in which the RFT has captured a coveted James Beard prize. In 2005 staff writer Malcolm Gay won for his feature "Eat Me," which detailed a local cattle cooperative's beef with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.



News Real, April 13, 2006

Belly Up The birth of a boycott?Chad Garrison's "Last Call" was excellent. Being a regular customer of Mark Pollman's since 1985, I was shocked when I heard he made his last call at the Fox & Hounds. This is yet another call to boycott. The only reason anyone patronizes Fox & Hounds is to be entertained by the best, the one and only Mark Pollman.

So, Dan Apted, if you want your bar to go from empty to full again, I strongly suggest you hire him back: the Best Bartender in the World, the Hall of Famer, the great Mark Pollman. This is not a threat — it's a fact. We love you, Mark and Harry!
Sharona Howard, St. Louis

About that boycott...:Business will probably improve at the Fox & Hounds. I will tell all my girlfriends that "the jerk" no longer works there. We will end our ban.
Laura Jones, Kirkwood

The lovable old cuss:Let's see if I have this right: The Cupboard, Cactus Danny's, the Cheshire Restaurant, the King's Arms, and from the Fox & Hounds, the heart of the Cheshire Inn and the only one of his properties still operating, he fires Mark Pollman? What is his problem? Steve Apted has to be spinning in his grave; God rest his frustrated soul. Please God, don't let Dan Apted get his hands on Ted Drewes. He'll change the menu.

As McGraw Milhaven said, "Mark Pollman is an institution." Sure, Mark's crusty, irreverent and opinionated. That's Mark. His bar is his court, and anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting Mark's place knows him as fun, intelligent, well-read and -traveled, with an incredible range of experience. How about a heart that goes out to every single person who walks in, on a plane individual to that person? Mark knows people. He knows how to greet them, get to know them and help them get out of their own way. At Mark's place you're immediately a member of the crowd, and after that you just want to go back and take friends who need to meet Mark. I guess the only person Mark couldn't help get over himself is Danny. Danny, unlike his father Steve, never learned how to listen to folks, just trying to help him get out of his own way.

If abrasive, irreverent, bigger-than-life artists are routinely exiled for intimidating fellow workers and a few customers who just don't get it, what happens to intellectual stimulation? Let's get rid of Don Imus, Andy Rooney and David Letterman. They don't play well with the other children.

Try this on for size: I happened in to the Fox & Hounds several weeks before Mark's last call. I had gone to the gym after work, so it was about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. I went in to ask Mark about a book he had mentioned I should read. The problem is Mark is off on Wednesday. There was a bartender and waitress behind the bar and one customer at the bar. I've been going to see Mark at the King's Arms and the Fox & Hounds for 32 years and I have never seen less than 10 people at Mark's bar — lunch, afternoon, evening, you name it.

Good move, Danny Boy.
Bill Wiley, St. Louis

Mark deserves better:During the last twenty years of living in the Metro East, my wife and I had just one place where we felt it was possible to go to meet interesting people from all walks of life, have a good drink and enjoy the entertainment of a true professional who engaged all comers in lively conversation. That is until a few weeks ago, when the Fox & Hounds Tavern at the Cheshire Lodge did the unthinkable in firing Mark Pollman.

With this event, a St. Louis institution has been destroyed. No replacement for Mark could ever draw the broad cross-section of followers he did — from not just across the country, but the world. For 30 years his efforts did not just draw customers into the bar, he brought business to the Lodge itself. Many out-of-town guests of the companies I worked for specifically requested to stay there just for the opportunity to visit the Fox & Hounds after a long day of work.

Now when my wife and I conclude a fine evening meal and give thought to where our next stop will be, it is home. There is no longer a place that we would consider stopping to be entertained as we have for so long. No longer will my friends from out of town look forward to gathering in an old English pub atmosphere.

Our loss in this is insignificant, though. The real loser in all this, of course, is Mark. He spent a significant portion of his life working for a single company, bringing to it a unique style and a level of skill unmatched in all my travels. To be discarded as a "risk" is hardly the deserved outcome. For Mark to be sitting at home at last call is just a crime. Mark deserves better. A kind and caring person who treats all with respect and honors each veteran that walks through the door. Gruff, grouchy, that's the shtick. If you can't understand that...well, we know someone who couldn't.

I can assure only two things at this point. First, I will never return to Fox & Hounds or any other establishment on that property. Second, Mark, let us all know where you go, because you know Pam and I will be there. And there is one more thing I can guarantee, all your friends and customers of the last 30 years will be there, too.
Dave Heizer, Belleville

He shall return:I unfortunately enjoyed your tribute to Mark Pollman, my friend since 1988. Over the years he not only educated me on beer and spirits, but also I learned how to deal with people. I worked for many years in specialty retail, and although our personalities are not the same, the way we handle customers is.

I recently moved back to St. Louis after three years away and will miss Mark very much. By the way, I was there the night the waitress made her complaint, and I can tell you Mark did nothing to warrant this; it was just an excuse to get rid of him. I am sure Mark will be back and so will his patrons and friends.
Ted Heitman, Manchester

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