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Rick's Steaks Leaving RTM?


rlibkind
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Out of curiosity I checked out the list of RTM board members.  Paul Madden, Esquire represents the RTM's Merchant's Association.  He is the sole voice of merchants on the board.  I'm guessing that his quote is intended to communicate the thinking of the other board members rather than to state his own feelings.

Thanks for clarifying that, Holly. I'm actually a little relieved to see that the out-and-out antipathy isn't quite as bad as I had imagined it to be with that quote.

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There is a full page ad on page 17 of today's Daily News that says "Save Rick's Steaks & The Reading Terminal Market". It lists a petition that has been signed by 52 of the shop owners in the Market. A very nice show of solidarity, I think.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

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Excellent re the Daily News.

There is also a rally at Rick's tomorrow at 10AM to support his lease renewal. I'll be there.

EDIT - THE SATURDAY RALLY HAS BEEN POSTPONED. A new date may be announced.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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Unless I missed it, I'm surprised that no one has picked up on this: the Amish have canceled the Dutch Festival this year! That's right, no festival due to management's foolish decision to remove Rick from the Market. This is a very strong stand on the part of the Amish, and detrimental to management. Especially since the Amish will be directing all customers with questions or complaints specifically towards the office.

How about that?

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Unless I missed it, I'm surprised that no one has picked up on this:  the Amish have canceled the Dutch Festival this year!  That's right, no festival due to management's foolish decision to remove Rick from the Market.  This is a very strong stand on the part of the Amish, and detrimental to management.  Especially since the Amish will be directing all customers with questions or complaints specifically towards the office.

How about that?

Up The Amish!

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Unless I missed it, I'm surprised that no one has picked up on this:  the Amish have canceled the Dutch Festival this year!  That's right, no festival due to management's foolish decision to remove Rick from the Market.  This is a very strong stand on the part of the Amish, and detrimental to management.  Especially since the Amish will be directing all customers with questions or complaints specifically towards the office.

How about that?

KYW-1060 actually mentioned that the Dutch Festival would not be held this year in protest.

Admittedly I will miss the animals that were usually in the Festival (I will never forget the year a sheep got loose and was almost hit by a SEPTA bus at 12th and Market before it was corralled by the time it got to Chestnut or another year an aminal of some sort (a goat?) found it's way into the fountain at Love Park) but I was one of the select few that was never a fan of the warm donuts (sorry Alvin!)... Who knows, perhaps if the board at the market recants, the Festival can be held later on.

I did take a close look at the merchants who signed the petition in the Daily News. It seemed like the vast majority of tenants chimed in but noticed a few tenants did not sign. Should we boycott them for Rick's sake?

See you on Saturday...

Edited by Bluehensfan (log)
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I'm afraid this has become a case of face for the RTM board and management. They had no idea of the broad resentment their ousting of Rick's Steaks would inspire. Now that they surely realize the totally negative impact of their actions, they are evidently trapped by them. Rather than back down and negotiate with Rick's Steaks they have gone out and hired a big shot lawyer. One hopes that behind the scenes there are talks going on but it appears the RTM board, right or wrong, believes it must stand firm, or appear weak in all future negotiations.

All this is not doing the market any good and it is not doing Tony Luke any good. Tony Luke's image is evolving from "good guy" to "conniving guy." This would all likely end if Tony Luke did the right thing, bowed out and waited for his turn like everyone else. If RTM management is to be believed,

Reading Terminal management said the move is more about the opportunity to bring in a more high profile client, Tony Luke’s

then, Tony Luke dropping out of the deal means Rick's stays.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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I'm afraid this has become a case of face for the RTM board and management.  They had no idea of the broad resentment their ousting of Rick's Steaks would inspire.  Now that they surely realize the totally negative impact of their actions, they are evidently trapped by them.  Rather than back down and negotiate with Rick's Steaks they have gone out and hired a big shot lawyer.  One hopes that behind the scenes there are talks going on but it appears the RTM board, right or wrong, believes it must stand firm, or appear weak in all future negotiations.   

All this is not doing the market any good and it is not doing Tony Luke any good.  Tony Luke's image is evolving from "good guy" to "conniving guy."  This would all likely end if Tony Luke did the right thing, bowed out and waited for his turn like everyone else. 

If RTM management is to be believed,

Reading Terminal management said the move is more about the opportunity to bring in a more high profile client, Tony Luke’s

then, Tony Luke dropping out of the deal means Rick's stays.

I think whether Tony Luke's bows out or not depends on how much he is worried about padding his pockets versus doing "the right thing." Remember, he did say in the past that he was "approached" to come in (likely when the board realized that Rick was nixing reporting revenues and opening on Sunday).

If I were Tony Luke, I'd want no part of this mess because obviously the board has an axe to grind, and Tony Luke is being used as a pawn to help justify the board's actions when in reality they would probably be just as happy to have any new tenant with a name that would help to sweep Rick out the back door. Like I said, if the real reason was that they wanted Tony Luke, they would find another space in the market to accomodate him but not at Rick's expense.

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I'm afraid this has become a case of face for the RTM board and management.  They had no idea of the broad resentment their ousting of Rick's Steaks would inspire.  Now that they surely realize the totally negative impact of their actions, they are evidently trapped by them.  Rather than back down and negotiate with Rick's Steaks they have gone out and hired a big shot lawyer.  One hopes that behind the scenes there are talks going on but it appears the RTM board, right or wrong, believes it must stand firm, or appear weak in all future negotiations.

Both sides have been playing chicken, Holly. Rick has a legal problem. And RTM has a relationship problem with many of its tenants. Like you, I hope both sides can find an accommodation that works.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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This is a really interesting scenario. I'm reminded of some of the fights that local governments have been getting into over exercising eminent domain. Courts generally uphold their right to condemn property for a pretty broad range of uses, but there's a certain line that just doesn't feel right anymore. Need to build a highway? Alright. A School, OK. A golf course and skating rink? Wait a minute...

Sure, the RTM has the right to not renew leases, and it's made some dramatic changes several times recently. But this move just doesn't feel "fair" whatever that means. I don't have a strong opinion one way or another about Rick's, and I do like Tony Luke's sandwiches, so you'd think I'd be all for replacing Rick with Tony, but it somehow doesn't feel right. It would be one thing if Rick's stand were redundant, or if he were selling an obviously inferior product, but to replace him with a business so similar, it really does start to look personal.

There's no way that the traffic in the market will be significantly improved by putting in a different cheesesteak stand. It wouldn't matter whether it was George Perrier himself making the steaks, or a robotic sandwich machine, tourists will walk in the front doors of the market, see the word cheesesteak, and get one.

Does Tony Luke really have more drawing power than The Prince of Steaks? Invincible wasn't that big of a movie... If the two stands were side by side, I don't think I'd hesitate before going to Tony Luke's, but still, it just feels capricious, and mean-spirited to evict a long-time tenant, especially one with a pedigree that the tourists might care about.

I agree with Holly, both sides are painted into corners, and the one elegant solution is for Tony Luke's to pull-out, looking to stay out of the big cloud of bad karma.

Besides, the Tony Luke's satellites are never quite right. They had a shop located about 150 feet from the front doors of 18 gazillion Penn undergrads and they couldn't make a go of it!

Plus, if management ticks-off the Amish too badly, they can deploy a powerful shunning...

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

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My understanding is that Tony Luke's has already signed a lease. That means he's obligated to fulfill the terms of the contract.

No doubt, TL and RTM are in frequent contact about this mess. The RTM has publicly dug in its heals but TL has been conspicuously silent about all this. One way everyone would save face would be if RTM allowed TL to void the lease, ostensibly at TL's request.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Legal footnote to philadining's post:

Rick's establishment is called "Rick's Philly Steaks" because Steve Iliescu has trademarked the phrase "Prince of Steaks" for his shop on Bustleton Avenue in the Northeast, which many argue serves the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia, period.

BTW and FWIW, Steve has a real snazzy Web site, with all sorts of Flash-y stuff goin' on.

The more this goes on, the worse I feel for all involved. The law is stacked against Rick, and if it does get to that point, the fallout will be worse than anything that's happened up to now. Just because something is legal, or even right for the long run, doesn't make it fair, though, and it's the fairness angle that Rick has been able to exploit.

Perhaps a bulk order of Roger Fisher's Getting to Yes is in order for the merchants and the management?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

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THE RICKS RALLY WILL BE HELD AT A FUTURE DATE

There are active efforts among all the parties involved to reach a resolution, and, as Joe noted, Rick's rally and news conference was called off for today. That's because enough progress has been made, but no deal is cinched.

Monday Rick will meet with the RTM board's leasing committee. Again, no guarantee that this will be resolved without going to court, but the parties are talking.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Well no Rick's Rally today (I went to the market today and all I got was these two lousy t-shirts...just kidding!)

But, in a bit of good news that has gone unannounced thus far, for all of you broccoli rabe fans out there, DiNic's did a trial run of broccoli rabe on Friday and Saturday. Admittedly, I was caught off guard by the news since I was looking forward to the usual roast pork with cheese and greens sandwich, and could not decide which to try. The stomach overruled the brain so my party and I tried both. I was initially hesitant about tinkering with a new sandwich since broccoli rabe can be bitter or chewy. However, DiNic's was neither. We went back and forth trying one sandwich and the other trying to decide which we liked better and enjoyed both immensely (and had no problem finishing off both of them). If push came to shove, I would give the nod to the broccoli rabe one because I think that the flavor of the rabe enhanced the flavor of the roast pork, as opposed to the sandwich with the greens, as the spinach flavor tended to hide the flavor of the pork a little bit. Don't get me wrong though, both sandwiches were absolute winners.

Just another reason the maket can do without an unnamed new prospective tenant.

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THE RICKS RALLY WILL BE HELD AT A FUTURE DATE

There are active efforts among all the parties involved to reach a resolution, and, as Joe noted, Rick's rally and news conference was called off for today. That's because enough progress has been made, but no deal is cinched.

Monday Rick will meet with the RTM board's leasing committee. Again, no guarantee that this will be resolved without going to court, but the parties are talking.

Hallelujah! Finally, a sign of sanity! Let's hope they can all work out their differences like big boys and girls.

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As I understand it RTM management asked Rick's Steaks for the meeting. It seems a good sign except for some confusing quotes from Kevin Feeley in Sunday's Inquirer article about the rally being canceled:

But spokesman Kevin Feeley insisted that the market hadn't budged from its position that Rick's would have to vacate the stand in favor of Tony Luke's, a rival Philadelphia institution, when the lease expires July 31
Asked about the board reaction to the ads [Petition by market merchants published as an ad in the Inquirer and Daily News], Feeley said: "What I was hearing was a sense of positions hardening instead of softening

In the past few days over fifty of the approximately eighty market merchants signed a proclamation in support of Rick's Steaks. The Amish merchants unanimously agreed to cancel the popular Amish Festival in support of Rick's Steaks. A rally was scheduled for 10 AM Saturday to protest the ousting of Rick's Steaks. Thousands of market visitors have signed a petition to support Rick's Steaks.

This all leads to a cheesesteak half remaining or cheesesteak half eaten dilemma. Did RTM management ask for the meeting to seriously negotiate a new long term lease for Rick's Steaks. Or did RTM management request the last-minute meeting to get the looming rally at RTM to be called off and at least postponed until much of the public and merchant pressure died down.

One hopes it is the former, leading to a happy ending.

If it is the latter, just a delaying strategy, then RTM management and its board is second only to the Bush administration in its arrogant ability to ignore the will of its constituents.

I have always been an optimist. Here's hoping for a serious and successful long term lease negotiation.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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Since I'm infrequently near RTM at lunch time, this issue has little effect on me.

I have a hard time believing that RTM management is the evil empire and Rick is pure as new fallen snow. Tony Lukes could merely be taking advantage of a fortunate opportunity or they could be the grey one in Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy. We'll never know.

As long as there's a market, it will have cheesesteaks. Some lucky business will have the franchise, for which they should pay appropropriately.

I'm hoping for a rapid resolution 'cause comparisons between RTM and Bush take sammies few of us eat regularly much too seriously.

Edited by Mummer (log)

Charlie, the Main Line Mummer

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Charlie,

Among other considerations, I am looking at this from the point of view of an entrepreneur who has owned a business, a copy center, in Center City, for the last twenty one years - almost as long as Rick's has been at Reading Terminal Market. If all of a sudden, predominantly for reasons of spite, my landlord were to refuse to negotiate a new lease, threatening both my livelihood and my equity (both pecuniary and sweat), I would want others to support me.

Rick has done nothing wrong. He does not appear to have violated any of the terms of his lease. His only transgression was, as president of the RTM merchant's association, to strongly represent the merchants in negotiating RTM management's revisions to the market's leasing structure.

This concerns a lot more than whether Tony Luke's or Rick's gets to sell cheesesteaks at Reading Terminal Market. It is mostly about whether the RTM management and board get to arbitrarily close a man's business after twenty five positive years of operation and contribution to the RTM's growth and success.

RTM's action towards Rick Olivieri is blatantly unfair and of questionable motivation.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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Holly,

I see this as an entrepreneur, also. Coincidentally, I've run a client's computer shop for 22 years. Last year they decided to move "my" function into their internal IT organization, eliminating my gig.

I've commented for a while that I've been building my own gallows. I've been standing on the trapdoor with a noose around my neck since I converted their data from "my" system earlier this month.

While I won't claim to have done nothing wrong, I'm proud of the job I've done. Lousy consultants don't have 22 year engagements.

Whether their decision was fair doesn't matter; it was theirs to make.

Perhaps the RTM charter says something other than business is business and management makes management decisions. Sometimes these decisions are made for wrong reasons, but so what?

If I've missed something, well, I've been really busy. This is nothing personal, of course, just my perspective.

Best regards, Stretch

Edited by Mummer (log)

Charlie, the Main Line Mummer

We must eat; we should eat well.

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