A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Updates: Rick Oliveri and Bitter Pennsylvanians

Recent events and new information have prompted me to post updates on two previous blog entries. Both of these are just FYI and will probably not alter the course of the universe, but I feel in all fairness to everyone involved that an occasional update is warranted. (Take that, Donald Rumsfeld!) Anyway...


In this post, I commented about Barack Obama's overly-criticized remarks that many Pennsylvanians are bitter and cling to their religion and guns. I noted my own experience growing up in Catawissa and explained how the town had several industries and a lumberyard when we moved there in 1970. As a demonstration that Obama was partly correct about industries closing shop in rural Pennsylvania, I concluded my remarks by saying that the lumberyard was the only industry left in Catawissa.

Well, it turns out I spoke too soon. I later learned that the Catawissa lumberyard closed down (temporarily?) several months ago and transferred their operations to another facility in nearby Elysburg. Thank you, Mom, for the new information.

UPDATE: RICK OLIVERI VS. THE SUITS (originally posted 8/31/07)

This was the story of Rick's The Prince of Steaks, which has held a prime vendor spot in Philadelphia’s historic Reading Terminal Market for over 20 years. In the last year, Rick mounted a highly publicized battle with the Market's Board of Directors, who had terminated negotiations for renewing Rick's lease. It was a great battle of a small vendor David with support from the cheesesteak loving public (3,000 signatures on a petition to keep Rick's in the Market) and the other Market vendors against a corporate Goliath.

And the winner is...Goliath! (drat and @#&% it!)

A few weeks ago, Rick's lawsuit against the Market came to court. A previous ruling had struck down all but one of Rick's arguments, and thus he faced an uphill battle on the first day of trial. It didn’t look good, and when it looked like he would be expected to pay the Board's court expenses if he lost, Rick reluctantly conceded. I believe him when he explained that it was a tough decision to make, but unfortunately it was the only decision he could make given the economic reality of the situation.

Rick's will close by the end of October, but he vows to relocate to another Center City location. I wish him luck and will follow him to wherever he goes. In the meantime, Anne Marie and I will plan one last trip to the Reading Terminal Market for another Rick's cheesesteak, and then perhaps never darken the Market's door with our presence again.

I can accept the Market Board wanting to go in a different direction; personally, I see their chosen direction leading to bankruptcy, but what do I know? The Market Board may learn the hard way that their customers will vote with their feet if the Board does not give them what they want. Tourists and conventioneers (meeting upstairs in the Pennsylvania Convention Center) will have to journey farther than the Reading Terminal for an authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak.

The ultimate losers will be the other vendors left in the Market. They are the ones who will suffer the loss from any customer backlash aimed at the Market Board. It is a shame all around. Everyone may lose from this outcome.


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