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Holly Moore: Fugitive


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#1 Holly Moore

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 03:19 PM

I was heading out to Manayunk so I decided to pack my camera and stop at Tommy Gunns American Barbeque - a new place that had just opened up. It is on Ridge Avenue just before the hill, where Main Street splits off.

The menu is all encompassing, though after being open only a few days a bunch of stuff is already crossed off with a black magic marker including "Our Specialty - Slow Roll Soup." The kitchen is real small and I suspect practicalities of size and perhaps the need to keep food fresh forced them to cut back on the ambition of the original menu.

Their barbecue is varied - St. Louis Style Spare Ribs, KC Style Baby Backs, Texas Brisket Sandwich, Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich and BBQ Chicken Sandwich. Standard sides except for a new one for me, Deep-Fried Macaroni. I went for the brisket, always a good test.

Then I stepped back, pulled out my camera and snapped a shot of the interior, mainly the menu. A few minutes later this guy walked up to me. I'm assuming he was the owner. "Can I ask why you're taking pictures inside my restaurant?"

A common enough question. I get it every few places I visit. "For my website - I do a website on cheap eats - bbq, hot dogs, lobster rolls and stuff like that."

The reaction has always been welcoming.

Not this time. Rather, a perturbed, "Don't you think you should ask for permission to take pictures inside my restaurant."

"No. I figure if someone wants to know he will ask. And if you prefer, I won't put your place up on my site." I understand his point, but from experience know that if I ask first, I won't be treated like a real customer. And they'll think I expect the food for free, which I don't. So I try to stay as low key as possible. Part of the fun for me is when they don't realize I've been there and then discover their page on my site either through a search on their place's name or upon hearing it from customers. I think it's neat when they just happen upon it.

Anyway our discussion went back and forth for a few minutes. Then my brisket was ready. They have outside seating. The owner happened to be standing there, talking with someone. I sat down, opened up the pack and, of course shot a couple of pics. The owner kind of glared. I tried the sandwich. It appears they cook in one of those vertical electric smokers, Phoebe's style. Very tender, but not much flavor. Then I poured on the sauce. Much better. An excellent sauce.

Finished, as I was leaving, I took a couple of exterior pics. Who should appear but the owner. "I need you to erase the picture you took inside my store. And I need you to show it to me, prove that you've erased the picture."

"No. I will not use it for the site, but I will not erase it either."

"If you don't erase it I'll call the police."

Dial 911 he did. On his cell phone. As I was getting into my car, he was behind my car giving the 911 operator my license plate number. "Wherever you are, the police will track you down," he assured me.

Wanting to be helpful I told him I'd be driving down Main Street and would be spending some time at the Vespa dealer. And so I did.

About an hour later, like any good felon, I returned to the scene of the crime. Actually I was just driving back to Center City Philadelphia. There, in Tommy Gunns's parking lot was a police car. And there was the owner, talking to the police officer and gesturing towards Manayunk.

I am giving Tommy Gunns three grease stains. I don't take off for siccing the police on me. I would like to get back and try the deep fried macaroni, but I am going to have to wait until the heat's off and the statute of limitations for aggravated picture taking has expired.

Edited by Holly Moore, 06 May 2004 - 05:28 PM.

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#2 ellencho

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 03:35 PM

WEAK! Can you be prosecuted for taking a pic inside of his restaurant? I hope not. Jerks. Although admittedly I am a bit excited at the thought of bbq in Manayunk so close to where I live in Wynnefield Heights.

I offer my apt as a safe haven and I'll play innocent if the cops come to my door.
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#3 Mabelline

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 03:38 PM

eGulleteers are the only folks I know that flirt with being jailed for taking pictures of food! :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

#4 KatieLoeb

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 03:39 PM

Holly:

What an ass! The only assumption you can make is that he must be in Witness Protection or something. Assuming you didn't take any photos of the ungracious owner I can only assume he's afraid someone back in the K.C. mob will recognize his baby back ribs on the World Wide Web :blink:

If he had half a grain of sense he'd have thanked you for giving him the free publicity.

I hope the cop reamed him for wasting his time. What did he expect the policeman to do? Knock on your door with a search warrant, confiscate your camera and come in and erase your hard drive?

I repeat - what an ass.

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#5 Holly Moore

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 03:47 PM

Thanks Katie. But anyone who works hard to put together a restaurant, very likely a long time dream, isn't an really an "ass." I do agree that calling the cops was a tad over the line.

I wrote this up because I thought it was funny. Not to take a shot at the owner or the place. OK maybe a humorous shot, but nothing personal. Other than handling guys with cameras, they are doing their best and are putting out a decent sandwich.

I write it off to his being new in the business and not sufficiently saavy to realize how vital it is to kiss up to the press, even if the press is just a guy with a website. :smile:

OK a website that gets 500 home page hits and a few thousand search hits every day, but who's counting. :smile:

ellencho, I'll consider your offer but will need a list of the ingredients in your refrigerator and a resume of your cooking skills.

Edited by Holly Moore, 06 May 2004 - 05:26 PM.

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#6 SG-

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 03:55 PM

Very insecure fella, if you ask me.

#7 Behemoth

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 04:00 PM

OK a website that gets 500 home page hits and a few thousand search hits every day, but who's counting. :smile:

Seriously!

Holly, I have a confession to make. I think I may have stolen your photo of the menu at George's. When I got married last year, I had about 30+ guests coming in from Germany & elsewhere and made a wedding journal of our favorite places around town so they could find their way around. Anyway, all the other pics were our own, but I didn't have a nice one of the Italian Market. Can share the journal if people want, though it is in German...

I love your website. How cool that I get to tell you in "person".

#8 Andrew Fenton

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 04:00 PM

And here I was, misreading the thread title as "Fugutive". I thought maybe you were being pursued by an angry sushi chef, Holly.

How does the 'cue compare to Sweet Lucy's?

#9 ellencho

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 04:14 PM

Holly - it's more like "what doesn't Ellen have in her fridge". It's quite frightening really, how much one person can have jammed into a medium sized fridge/freezer. Most of my fridge/freezer contents are either dairy or pork or condiment, with a few veggies packed in here and there. My cooking resume? uh, um, [small voice] no formal cooking experience [/small voice] but if I were to be an X-men mutant, I think my mutant power would be the ability to bring out the best in meat.
Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

#10 cdh

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 05:17 PM

Hmmm... sounds like an unpleasant guy runs the place... nobody told him he was going into the hospitality industry???

Putting on the lawyer hat for a second, if he told you to leave and you didn't, then he might be able to get you for trespass... but probably only civilly, which would mean he'd have to front a lot of money for a lawsuit against you, and would likely only receive nominal damages, like a buck or so. If he never even told you to "git offa my land" you're totally in the clear... So if the guy really wants to be an ass, he might be able to spend a thousand bucks to get a judgment and a dollar from you, and thereby either prove that he was right, or prove that he is an ass... or both.
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#11 davidbdesilva

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 07:57 PM

OK Holly I think it's time to hit the matresses! I know this place in Jersey you could use, pretty sparse but no one will find you there. Better still, I have relatives in Sicily who could put you up but you might not pass as a Siggy and therefore stick out. I could provide some "protection" at the place in Jersey, for a small fee of course, payable in good BBQ. Or, I have friends who could show up and break a knee cap or two. Just let me know and consider it done...

Putting on my psycholgists hat for a moment, this guy sounds a little paranoid and full of himself :blink: . Maybe a group of say 20 or so egulleters should show up with cameras and start snapping away and send him off the deep end, now that would be funny! :raz:
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#12 winesonoma

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 08:14 PM

E mail the pics to me I'm from Brooklyn so he can't scare me, but I live in California and will run them through Romania .
Bruce Frigard
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#13 Lisa1349

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 08:19 PM

What would he do if 20 people showed up and everyone took pics of the food? A new kind of eGull-outing! I sometimes take notes at restaurants, mostly wine related, and doodles, restaurant people get uneasy at the sight of notebooks, I'm sure cameras are even more daunting. All for a good cause. The chef of StudioKitchen came into the store today, and I recognized him only from his pics here. If only I could have remembered his name, I would've come across as intelligent. LOL
Lisa K
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#14 KatieLoeb

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 09:37 PM

What would he do if 20 people showed up and everyone took pics of the food? A new kind of eGull-outing! I sometimes take notes at restaurants, mostly wine related, and doodles, restaurant people get uneasy at the sight of notebooks, I'm sure cameras are even more daunting. All for a good cause. The chef of StudioKitchen came into the store today, and I recognized him only from his pics here. If only I could have remembered his name, I would've come across as intelligent. LOL

Lisa:

I'll e-mail Shola and tell him to ask for you next time he's in. :biggrin:

And I'm certain he'd have been flattered that you recognized him. You really should go to dinner at his place some time. You'd really enjoy it.

You know Shola does read eGullet from time to time. At least that's what he tells me.

I think we should definitely go do the Camera Brigade thing. It's like jumping out of a plane to cure your fear of heights. We'll be doing the guy and all his future customers a favor by performing our own therapy session for him.

Yeah - he'd like that. Posted Image

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#15 Rich Pawlak

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 10:13 PM

What would he do if 20 people showed up and everyone took pics of the food? A new kind of eGull-outing! I sometimes take notes at restaurants, mostly wine related, and doodles, restaurant people get uneasy at the sight of notebooks, I'm sure cameras are even more daunting. All for a good cause. The chef of StudioKitchen came into the store today, and I recognized him only from his pics here. If only I could have remembered his name, I would've come across as intelligent. LOL

I smell another DDC event, and a great theme: "Photo Food Folly".

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#16 jhlurie

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 10:29 PM

Thanks Katie. But anyone who works hard to put together a restaurant, very likely a long time dream, isn't an really an "ass."

Why not? I think it's entirely possible to respect someone's accomplishments or work ethic and still think they are an ass.
Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

#17 littlechinagirl

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 07:39 AM

Holly,
I recently had a similar experience, though not quite as extreme, in Richmond, VA.
After a blissful week-long vacation in the Keys, we stopped in Richmond on the last night of our 20 hr. drive back to DC. Having read about the cute, wonderful box lunches at Sally Bell's Kitchen, I dragged my boyfriend there for our "last vacation meal". My sweet boyfriend, knowing the food freak that I am, posed me in front of the cupcakes and snapped the very last picture on our disposable camera. The woman behind the counter jerked to attention- "Did you just take my picture?!"
(Boyfriend)- "Uh, no ma'am, I was just taking a picture of my girlfriend by the cupcakes..."

"You can't take my picture! Why did you take my picture?! I didn't give you permission to take my picture!"

Boyfriend- "I'm sorry, ma'am, we certainly didn't mean to offend you..."

She continues to scold us, her voice booming, her anger boiling, as everyone there whips around and stares...
"You can't be taking pictures of me without my permission- You're going to have to give me your camera!"

Give her our camera? The one containing picutures of my boyfriend (now fiance) proposing to me on a sunset cruise? The one with pictures of our Keys vacation with old college friends we rarely see anymore?
I don't think so. Fortunately for everyone, the owner came out right at that moment to see what the commotion was about. The situation fizzled, and aside from the woman behind the counter muttering about it from that point on, we left without incident. And with our boxed lunches, which, BTW, were slightly disappointing, but maybe that's only because they were out of their famous chicken salad.

Just got the pictures developed- there's one of me (and only me) with the delicious cupcakes. It's lovely.

Edited by littlechinagirl, 07 May 2004 - 07:43 AM.


#18 skchai

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 01:54 PM

BTW, I agree with Holly about not asking in advance about taking pictures. While it may seem a courtesy to do so, it simply seems to put people on edge. If I just take pictures without asking, I've never had anyone really pay attention to me. If I ask, then the staff feel uncomfortable making a decision one way or another, and have to ask the owner, who's often not there. So then they want me to write a letter proposing the reasons why I'm in the store etc. On other occasions, they do ask me if I want free samples, and I have to explain that I don't. To summarize, it seems the staff prefers not to be asked.

But, unlike Holly, I've never had an occassion when the owner attacked me personally. . .

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#19 Chris Cognac

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 01:59 PM

a few places freaked when I was in Las Vegas for my cheap eats in Vegas article..I took a bunch of pics at the Strat and Ellis Island,they were great but Bourban St and Wild Wild West got kinda wierd on me......I guess its a crap shoot on how people are going to react to the camera
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#20 cdh

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 02:38 PM

Chris: In your day job, have any stories similar to this made the rounds? What is the general attitude of the cops who get called by guys like this restaurant owner? That side of the story seems kinda interesting... how much importance is assigned to calls about trespassing of this sort?
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#21 mnebergall

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 02:43 PM

Some places have signs (Fuddruckers) that say "no pictures." I think they think someone will steal their restaurant design idea and copy it. Are restaurant interior designs eligible for copyright protection?

#22 cdh

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 04:13 PM

Don't think copyright... but there is trade dress protection, the most famous case about which dealt with the interior decor designs of two Mexican chains... So there is some protection... just not copyright.
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#23 Chris Cognac

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 04:29 PM

If he was just taking photos of food, we might dispatch an officer to talk to the owner...but that would be it...But I am a sex crimes detective and I would need to know if anything/anyone else were being photographed(trust me it happens alot)....if so, yes I would look into it...trace the plate's and write a search warrant for Holly's house,sieze the film, blah blah blah...but then I would have seen just "food" and no "other stuff and I would have been pissed for wasting my time....and no cops would be eating there for a while!
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#24 Holly Moore

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 04:47 PM

Interesting. What could I photograph in a rib joint that would be a basis for a search warrant? Even if I took pictures of customers eating, could the judge draw the conclusion that I have a fetish for lips dripping of bbq sauce and am stalking a sensual diner?

My guess is that the officer told the owner he had no case, drove away with a couple of pulled pork sandwiches and everyone will live happily ever after.

Then again I'll be sneaking out the back door (if only I had a back door) if I hear a baton knocking of the front door and an megaphoned "Open Up"
Holly Moore
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#25 Chris Cognac

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 05:53 PM

Interesting. What could I photograph in a rib joint that would be a basis for a search warrant? Even if I took pictures of customers eating, could the judge draw the conclusion that I have a fetish for lips dripping of bbq sauce and am stalking a sensual diner?

My guess is that the officer told the owner he had no case, drove away with a couple of pulled pork sandwiches and everyone will live happily ever after.

Then again I'll be sneaking out the back door (if only I had a back door) if I hear a baton knocking of the front door and an megaphoned "Open Up"

its how, who, and at what "angle" the photo's are shot..there a bunch of pervs out there, food photographing is a good "cover" story....not for you of course, cause i know you were taking food pics....i guess here at e gullet, food is kind of our porn..."oh yea baby, i got a nice shot of some flaming shrimp in mexico...what do you got to trade?"
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#26 HungryChris

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 07:48 PM

You would think if someone was proud of their operation, they would want as much picture taking as possible. This thread calls to mind, however a time a few years ago when I was helping a contractor friend of mine on a Saturday in Norwich, CT. We got coffee and a muffin in a little place, in the morning a few doors down from where we were doing some renovation. At lunch time we went back to the same place only to discover that it was closed. The next morning that I was there, I asked why they didn't stay open for lunch on weekends and the woman running the register told me, "Oh no, we used to do that, but it just gets too busy!"
People are funny!!!!

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HC

#27 rlibkind

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 08:24 PM

I asked why they didn't stay open for lunch on weekends and the woman running the register told me, "Oh no,  we used to do that, but it just gets too busy!"
People are funny!!!!

Sounds like Lawrence P. Berra's famous line: "No one goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
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#28 Mabelline

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 08:27 PM

Perhaps the name of the joint should have caused a pause with regards to hospitality: Tommy Gunn's? Hello...perfect name for a re-plant of the witness protection plan, hmmm?

#29 KatieLoeb

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 09:19 PM

Perhaps the name of the joint should have caused a pause with regards to hospitality: Tommy Gunn's? Hello...perfect name for a re-plant of the witness protection plan, hmmm?

This is what I'm sayin'... :laugh:

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#30 Holly Moore

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 05:14 AM

Heats off thanks to Michael Klein
Holly Moore
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