December 17, 2012
Oh Kupros, stop putting things in writing

Putting odd, awkward and uninformed information in print is not a new endeavor when it comes to the ownership at Kupros Bistro, though the midtown restaurant and pub has reached a new low in its latest effort. If building up a clientele has as much to do with goodwill as it does good cooking, this is an incredible blunder - foolish, unfair, offensive.

Chris Macias' earlier posting here about an oh-so-awkward missive on Facebook regarding a personnel issue, reminds me of an email I received from Kupros after my review in 2011. I had complained that the food was bland and that little on the menu showed any personality or daring. I also lamented that the opening chef, John Gurnee, who made a splash with his edgy menu choices and his excellent cooking skills, had been sent packing. I received an email from Kupros taking me to task for calling and speaking with the manager when he was busy, prior to the review. How unfair of me. Well, I called Temple Coffee today to chat with owner Sean Kohmescher, who, it turns out was busy. Know what he said? "Hey, can I call you back in 45 minutes?" How did he come up with that one?

The Kupros email went on to suggest that John Gurnee was a friend of mine. It also said that in my review I had not considered Gurnee's exorbitant food costs. Hmm, let's see. A) How would I know what his food costs are? B) Why would I care? and C) You guys set the prices on the menu, apparently based in some way on how you can make a profit while providing value to your customers. I think that's how it works. Banished from Kupros, Gurnee is now starring at one of San Francisco's hot restaurants, Wayfare Tavern, where he is executive chef. In the highly competitive Bay Area restaurant scene, food costs are more important than ever. Am I friends with Gurnee? I've never met him. Maybe Kupros should have asked.

There's more. The bio of the latest chef at Kupros refers to his "culinary pallet." I think a pallet is one of those wooden things goods are placed on so forklifts can hoist them. Maybe a culinary pallet is something chefs sit on while taking a smoking break in the alley. The same bio mentions the chef grew up in Toronto (Canada) and "Like so many fine young men, he decided to move to the states where he served in the U.S. Navy." That's just weird. Please let us know where we can learn about all the other fine young men in Canada who moved south to enlist in the military.

Now Kupros has taken to Facebook because, hey, it apparently wants to balance its food costs with its legal costs. I'm not a lawyer, but this thing does not seem to put Kupros in the strongest legal position. The bartender/manager gets pregnant. Kupros tells her that when she returns from her honeymoon they will put her on day shift. Everyone in the restaurant and bar business knows the tips are significantly less on that shift. The bartender walks, then gives a parting shot on Facebook suggesting she has been pushed out for being pregnant. Fire in the kitchen! And what does Kupros do? Fans the flames.

On Facebook, the restaurant names the bartender and then goes into detail about what it did. At one point, it suggests it was looking out for her best interests by giving her the dayshift. But that's not all. Kupros says it would be "dangerouus" to be pregnant and work the night shift. That's just wrong on several levels. And it's offensive. The mother-to-be is free to decide what is best for her health and the health of the baby. Working while pregnant is not only her choice, it's her right. And the baby doesn't care what shift. It's really dark in there.

Here's some advice for Kupros. Step away from the computer. The only writing you should be doing is in the form of apologies - to the bartender, to women, to your customers, to culinary pallets everywhere.

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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