Week of March 9, 2005

Mar 9, 2005 at 4:00 am
What's Your Beef?
Cut to the bone: It is clear Rose Martelli has an anti-corporate bias. In her review of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar last week, she claims the service she received was subpar, but she fails to offer specific examples. She mentions that upon arrival she was told that her table was not ready and that no one offered to check her coat. I seriously doubt that she was treated rudely. She was likely politely directed to the bar and offered a drink while she waited for her table. Once her table was available, did the hostess offer to check coats? I would guess that the answer is yes.

Ms. Martelli's main complaint seems to be that the service staff is good-looking. She refers to her server as a "teenager." Perhaps she refers to anyone younger than she is as a "teenager." The youngest server on staff at Fleming's is 24 years old. The average age is probably about 28. Hardly teenagers.

It seems to me Martelli was digging for something to complain about. She, like most critics, has a deep disdain for corporate-owned restaurants. She lumps them all in with Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc. I could easily describe her complaints as she does the service she received: hollow and empty. She should have started the article by saying, "I hate corporately owned restaurants and fully expected to have a terrible experience."

If Rose Martelli only likes middle-aged career waiters to serve her, Tony's is probably the only game in town for her. If you cannot be objective, at least be honest.
Todd Pearson, server
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

New Rules
OK, so what about letters from people who work at the restaurant? I always felt that any comment from St. Louisans that isn't a blanket accusation of biased reporting could be beneficial and should be printed in RFT's letters column. But as of the February 23 batch of letters, I have raised my standards. I now exclude the following types of comments:

1) Those, like Irmgard Spirk-Ceney's, that whine about or attack restaurant critics for being negative when reviewing what seemed to be her favorite restaurant in town (a locale that has been anything but praised by virtually every food critic in town). Dining is expensive for most of us, who are well-served by having an informed -- even if errant -- review of where our money will go. No restaurant should be beyond reproach.

2) Those written only to accuse someone of cooties or the current equivalent thereof (Jeff and sister Robin Hirsch, you've only given the mystifyingly popular Beatle Bob more of the attention he craves).

3) And finally, those letters that are rebuttals to the type of letter detailed in item 2) above (Mr. Beatle, you can't possibly be deluded enough to think everyone should admire a man who has enough free time, devotion or insomnia to fidget at a local music performance almost every day of the year -- or can you?).

I'm positive this forum can be used for better discussions. RFT, please be more constructive in this section.
Joe Wisniewski
St. Louis

Back to School
Don't hold your breath: I'd like to thank the RFT for publishing Ben Westhoff's article about which city officials send their children to St. Louis public schools ["School Ties," February 16]. It would be nice if people like Robbyn Wahby, Vince Schoemehl or Mayor Slay cared enough to put their own kids in the district. One can assume that if more of the city leaders' children attended the SLPS, the district's performance would improve. First, because there would be more high-performing kids and concerned parents invested in the schools. Second, because the leaders' kids being there would attract other highly educated, upwardly mobile families to enroll their kids. And third, because leaders and upwardly mobile parents would work hard to ensure that the district did not lack resources. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

We actually have a chance with the April 5 school-board election to double the number of school-board members whose children attend public schools. Peter Downs is a candidate whose children attend public schools and who actually has a shot at winning. He has support from all over the city. So far Peter has been endorsed by the 1st, 6th, 8th and 22nd Democratic ward organizations; the teacher's union; state reps Jeanette Mott Oxford and Yaphett El-Amin; and Aldermen Jeffrey Boyd, Peggy Ryan and Steve Conway. Between now and election day, he is bound to attract many more endorsements.

For the past two years, Peter has published the online St. Louis Schools Watch newsletter, making him one of the best informed of the candidates regarding the district. If you place a value on having parents sitting on the St. Louis school board, I would recommend you pay attention to Peter Downs' campaign. And vote on April 5.
Susan Turk
St. Louis

More questions than answers: I read Ben Westhoff's "School Ties" with great interest, but I feel you have probably asked the wrong questions. I would like to have heard answers to these questions:

What personal, firsthand experiences do you have with St. Louis public schools?

Apart from religious conviction, what are the reasons you have chosen schools other than the St. Louis public schools?

What serious suggestions do you have to address any problems you see?

Some respondents seem to have volunteered answers related to this, I acknowledge. What seems most interesting about the story is the number of people who felt they couldn't, shouldn't or daren't provide responses.
Marjorie Weir
St. Louis