New Yorkers are so lucky to have a great shoe shine and repair service that is local and in places that are easy to get to. Leather Spa can literally fix any damages/problems you have with your shoes, handbags, or leather belts, restoring them to their original gorgeous look. The other day, I found out that they even can lower the excessively high stilettos that I purchased after having too many mimosas on a Sunday afternoon. My girlfriends had convinced me that I looked fabulous in them and that the stilettos would go well with my jeans or leather pants. So, I went ahead and spent some $$$, only to end up wearing them once in 5 years. Bummer, I thought, because they’re super nice but the heel is a tad too high. Then I found Leather Spa: they came to the rescue, and guess what, I love my new, 1/4” lower stilettos 🙂

The problem
I took my fabulous stiletto boots to the closest Leather Spa. On my recent visits to the Leather Spa FiDi location, the line was insane. I discovered that the clerk taking orders also performs inspections, which must be done in order to get a price quote. Only after the inspection and a price quote can the order be placed. Despite the long line, the clerk didn’t even think of calling for help. Finally, another staff member showed up, but he didn’t open another cash register done with the average price of carpet cleaning in dublin to help the next guest; instead, he helped a shoe shine customer who had come in way after me and the three other waiting customers.

The Fix
The management should train their staff to keep an eye on the traffic. If there are more than 3 customers waiting in line, someone should call for assistance. It would also be a good idea to monitor what times of day are busiest and hire part-time help during those hours. At the very least, have the decency to serve the customers in the order in which they arrived—no matter what service they need.

My new favorite restaurant in town, Fiskur (which means “fish” in Icelandic) Bistro, is the go-to place for the freshest fish ’n chips, langoustine, arctic char, cod, shrimp salad, and gluten-free dipping crackers that are freshly made in their kitchen daily. The best part: the fish is caught in Iceland in the middle of the night, then airfreighted directly to NY that same day! Can it get any fresher? Not to my knowledge. Oh, and let me tell you: their cocktails are out of this world! My favorite, Dúfa (which means dove or pigeon), is made with Icelandic schnapps and other scrumptious ingredients that I won’t list here—you just have to try it.

The Problem
On a recent visit, I sat at the bar with a friend of mine, whose favorite drink is called Videy (an island in Reykjavik bay), a cocktail mixed with Brennivín and some sort of dill infusion. We had a few drinks and appetizers, and the place was happening. When we were ready to leave, we didn’t see a single staff member and no bartender was visible. All the staff members had disappeared, while there were at least 30 people in the restaurant, not including the bar scene. We waited a good 5 minutes before we found a manager who could bring us our check. Oh, dear. I emailed the owner (whom I know through a family friend) and expressed my concern. Of course, she wasn’t happy to hear my report. No one was fired, but they really had to step up their game, and they have somewhat done so.

The Fix
The staff needs a mentor on site all the time, meaning: don’t hire a young person who doesn’t have a stake in the restaurant’s success or someone who hasn’t been properly trained in hospitality. The immediate fix is to also set a rule that no one should leave the floor without checking in with the customers. It’s as simple as asking: “Can I help you with anything before I step away for a moment?” Train the staff to look up and scan the room, not stare at the floor. The waiters shouldn’t be lingering while waiting for their orders to be filled but rather they should be walking the floor and returning to the bar with (hopefully) more orders. These are such simple fixes, and yet this kind of attention can make or break a bistro! I, for one, hope they’re here to stay!

My absolute favorite fragrance house is diptyque, which creates the most amazing scented candles and perfumes. They had been my client for many, many years, but last year, they decided to move all operations, including global creative, to Paris.
Of course, my team was a bit disappointed, but hey… if the CEO and upper management feel they need to manage their global marketing out of Paris, that’s fine.
I signed up for their email campaign many moons ago, and I was always really pleased with their messaging and online design…until recently. I’m no longer sure what they’re trying to communicate. The emails I get are watered down, slow to load, and I really don’t “feel them” as the brand I used to know 🙁

The Problem
I found out from a good friend of mine, a diptyque insider, that the new agency doesn’t have a native English-speaking writer on staff! Nor do they have any expertise in e-commerce or any know-how in terms of optimizing on-line sales.
Apparently, the copy is written in French, then Google translated, and then edited by a Parisian copywriter! WOW, I thought to myself, that’s so weird. Why are they doing that? Well, my theory is that maybe they think that we, Americans we “don’t get it” and that the right way is the French way (no pun intended)…

The Fix
diptyque should go back to its roots: the founders (who were also friends), Desmond Knox-Leet (painter), Yves Coueslant (set designer), and Christiane Gautrot (architect) embraced exploration and localization so well.
Having your headquarters in Paris is fine, but localize each market, meaning: hire creative teams who know the local culture, language/slang, as well as the customers who are already fans—they’re the ones who’ve created the LOVE for diptyque!

Or shall I say icetails?
On a recent school night, my best friends and I went to Rosa Mexicana (18th street, NYC) for virgin and non-virgin margaritas while catching up on business, life, travel, and everything in-between. But we soon discovered something that I wanted to write about here on TR before I forget! We ordered margaritas, and I ordered a club soda as well, as I like to thin out my drinks to pace myself. Here’s what happened: our alcoholic drinks arrived first, but by the time the chips arrived, we’d almost finished our drinks. I thought to myself, “WOW! Did I really drink this whole glass in 10 minutes?” Then I realized I hadn’t— it was all ice!!!

The Problem
After finishing our first round, we all paid close attention to the second round, particularly at how much ice was in the glasses (of both virgin and non-virgin margaritas). They all had one thing in common: too much ice and no liquid to speak of. AHA! Okay, I get it, they are struggling, so they’re sacrificing the quality I remember from back in 2003, when they took real pride in their mixology. Now, it’s long gone, probably never to return.

The Fix:
If your landlord is too greedy, move, and reestablish your pride in the quality of your food and drinks. The food was mushy and bland, lacking in flavor, and there was no appetizing aroma when it came out. I didn’t eat much, wanting to gag, as it looked like baby food!

One weekend morning, my partner and I were purging our closets (both clothing and pantry) of stuff we thought we should get rid of. We came across 3 Calphalon pans that we had stopped using because of the buildup of gunk and residue that had been deposited on those pans over the years. I’ll confess they were about 12 years old and probably not worth keeping, so they went into the “get rid of” pile.

The next morning, for some reason, my partner decided to Google the pan warranties, and sure enough, it said “lifetime,” which doesn’t mean anything these days.

Two days later, my partner decided to call Calphalon. Right away (without having to stay on hold!), he spoke to a very helpful representative, and without any fuss or attitude, he was informed that when Calphalon writes “lifetime warranty,” they mean it. We sent the pans back the next day, and 3 weeks later, brand new ones showed up! We still can’t believe the amazing service—or how quick and easy the process was.

The Problem
Not a single problem to report with Calphalon! As a matter of fact, I think other services and corporations should use Calphalon as a role model, especially when it comes to serving their clients. Those who fake “lifetime” warranties should immediately stop and not bother putting it in 6 point or less type with some disclosure mumbo-jumbo written by a sleazy lawyer.

The Fix
Not one single fix suggestion for Calphalon. All I can say is that I LOVE them! But if I want to call out those brands in my kitchen that need serious fixing, I’d add:

Samsung: One Saturday morning, we were woken by our co-op building super, who informed us of a water leak dripping from our apartment into the 4th floor. We went downstairs to our neighbor’s apartment and spotted the water leak right away. Sure enough, the leak was coming from our fancy, new fridge—which was only 2 months old.
Investigating the cause, we found out that there is (in my opinion) a design flaw with how the water feed connects to the back of the fridge. The pipe can easily kink when it is pushed against the wall. After calling the company we bought it from, we were told that this is not technically part of the fridge and therefore it was our responsibility to fix! What?!? My partner, who is quite the handyman, was able to find a replacement part at our local hardware store, and he hooked it up himself. It just pisses me off that a company like Samsung admits there is a flaw, but if it breaks, you’re on your own!

Electrolux: This concerns a dishwasher we purchased in 2007 (yes, 10 years ago), which we didn’t use much because for the first 4 years of its life, we were bicoastal. Not until recently (thanks to Sun Basket) have we made the time to cook at least 3 meals at home per week.
The other day, after a scrumptious Sun Basket meal, we cleaned up and got ready to use the Electrolux dishwasher, but it wouldn’t turn on: there was no power. We called the service center and were referred to a local service company that made us wait nearly 10 days before sending someone to take a look. After another 10 day wait, the service company called to tell us that the needed part was no longer available, so the dishwasher had to be fully replaced. What a waste!!! And that was the only answer we got after spending $55??? What serious lack of pride in service (and really, it takes 20 days to get an answer?).