Wednesday, June 20, 2018

ZOMATO

We have owned and run a boutique restaurant in Fitzroy Melbourne called 'Mon Ami' for some 15 years, have been ranked within the top 2% of restaurants globally and are lucky enough to be full most of the time. 

With the rise and rise of everyone's capacity to post their opinions online there are now a plethora of sites which purport to just publish others comments without bias.  Unfortunately this is rarely the case where defamation is rife and so called 'algorithms' are advertised as perfect yet fail time after time.

Zomato is such a site. 

I have complained to Zomato without success with just the latest below:

Zomato,

In simple terms, you are attempting to separate restaurants on an overall spectrum [bell curve] by arbitrarily [in both senses – your use of unrestrained authority and on the basis or random thought] changing the ranking pursuant to the number of businesses on a ranking rather than independent reviewer scores even though even though the respective businesses may be vastly different.  This is a mathematical nonsense because you are not changing scores based on independent grades but based on your assessment without having been to each establishment.  For example you mathematically compare as equals say a pizza shop and a fine dining restaurant where the offerings are different as are the clients.  A dish which takes 2 days to prepare has nothing in common with a dish which takes 15 minutes, yet you ignore the reviewer and arbitrarily change their score . Undoubtedly, your issue is that you will have a lot of restaurants on 3.5/5 because people tend to vote around the mean.  Instead, separation should be based on a more extensive spectrum [maybe out of 100 in decimals from .1 to 10.0] and mathematically weighted by a number of parameters such as cuisine, service, ambience etc.  All of this without independent mathematical influence by Zomato.

It’s the reviewer which should determine scores, not Zomato.

In our case our score drops to 3.9 when the average of actual reviewers scores is circa 4.5 just because there are others on the same score.  Just common sense says look at the reviews and establish whether we sit at 3.9 or 4.5 [?].

If all this was just esoteric argument then it would be an interesting mathematical exercise but in part our business is affected by Zomato based on their changes.  If a potential clients tipping point is say 4.2 then we would be ignored despite past clients ranking us at 4.5.  This can cost us business and is most certainly inappropriately influenced by Zomato AND it misrepresents our business and is thus possibly unlawful.

In addition, we treasure both professional reviewers and blogging diners and take all comments seriously.  However, we do get annoyed when some disaffected keyboard warrior says nice things to us and ferrets off to anomalously write vitriol.  [Why would anyone do this?]  Thankfully, these cases are very rare albeit there was one quickly refuted [by others] chunk of inappropriate vitriol posted recently on Zomato which we demanded to have modified to remove the defamatory comments.  [What sort of people do this?] 


Note that Zomato are responsible for publishing defamation when they are in full knowledge of content.

This unfortunately gets much more important for a new restaurant depending on public reviews to build business.  Zomato can kill them based on their so called algorithm. 

Not good.

Zomato, you need to deal with your methods.

Regards,

Jon

Saturday, February 10, 2018

'T' PLATES

TOURIST PLATES

We drive from St Kilda to Fitzroy between 9am and 1am 5 days a week and we watch with some trepidation what happens to traffic, drivers and pedestrians.
 
The national endemic is ignoring red lights by all participants which creates constant ‘mind’ chaos because no one is sure what anyone else will do.  For example, the disaffected personally powerless dropkick deliberately walks across traffic fingering anyone who dares to complain.  Not a good look.

Everyone has a ‘whoops’ moment being caught clipping a red light but this is vastly different from the dross who accelerate through an intersection in the full knowledge it’s red.

Enter the tourist into this mind chaos.  Strange car, strange city, perhaps driving on the other side of the road and in a constant state of panic.  We as locals are used to it and expect others to also be used to it with little quarter given.  Yet, any tourist wants a positive experience and I speak from personal experience having driven all over Europe.

The trouble is that we don’t know who the tourists are so we have no chance to cut some slack or even smile.  These people are not dross, they are tourists enjoying our space but in a constant state of panic.

The solution is simple.

Magnetic ‘T’ plates the same as ‘P’ plates identifying the driver as a tourist who may make mistakes and whom we have a duty to both understand and support.  

Nice people in a nice city doing nice things being supported by nice locals.


Couldn’t be easier really.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Montsalvat

PRESERVE MONTSALVAT AS THE ICONIC ARTS COLONY

Yesterday we had occasion to visit the iconic Montsalvat to interview Mr Sigmund Jorgensen for news publication. 

During this period we could not help but notice the deplorable state the buildings and grounds are currently enduring.   Weeds on steps, grass unmown, moss on tiles, render falling off buildings, a filthy inappropriate pool fence and a palpable feeling of neglect.

This current board and management are failing in their duty to preserve Montsalvat.  Have a look at Heidi, or indeed, any reasonably run art institution, and note the differences.  

Unfortunately, Mr Jorgensen had been voted off the self elected current board and since thwarted by them in his attempts to revive the arts colony.  

I doubt that the paying public will want to look at an unkempt ruin remembering Montsalvat circa 70’s used to be vibrant and alive when Mr Jorgensen was running the show yet now it feels like a place in its death throes.

The current board and management without Mr Jorgensen have failed in their duty to protect and nurture Montsalvat and therefore as an act of good faith should resign forthwith.  Indeed, Montsalvat’s constitution at section 9a demands board member skills and experience appropriate for the company which would obviously exclude skills and experience such as local government, academia and anything not focused on the business that is Montsalvat.  Unfortunately most of the board and management fall into this exclusion zone and it shows.  Terrible management decisions are prevalent such as outsourcing revenue streams for a fraction of their worth because of an inability to manage.

Montsalvat needs professional intervention to survive starting with the reinstatement of Mr Sigmund Jorgensen as the live in doyen and founder.


The risk is losing the history that is Montsalvat.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Premier Andrews supports the destruction of the ‘people’s’ golf course at Sandringham.

Blatant gender discrimination, disregard for heritage, spurious reasoning and little concern for the ‘people’s golf course at Sandringham underpin Premier Andrews supporting the destruction of ‘our’ public golf course.
At its most outrageous, he agrees that shortening the course would attract more women - you have to be kidding!  I would hope that a golfer is a golfer and gender irrelevant.  Premier, do you have ‘girls’ seats in parliament so they perhaps hear better being the weaker gender and unable to match it with the men? 
What a fantastic city Melbourne really is with great public spaces and a culture that was developed with everyone being able to play sport.
Tennis at every corner, cricket at every suburban oval, footy everywhere and golf - the worlds most popular game available to all through a range of suburban traditional courses. 
Courses that were not manicured like the Americans are prone to do, nor world beating in complexity like the Asians but natural courses that the whole fandangle could rock up and challenge.
Enter Sandringham.  True to its name, a sand-belt public course next to Royal Melbourne [where God played] and Victoria [where his disciples supplicated on] but available for a game for a few dollars and no membership and, just a few metres away, an extensive driving range where professionals congregated, lessons could be had and commiserations could be heard over a post hit beer.  Pretty good really. 
Melbourne, golf, public space, life and the average person.
Now, this history is at risk.  Instead of preserving this people’s course Andrews has decided to support the selling off of great sections, to change the historic layout, to incorporate yet another driving range and to turn it into a fun park that ‘women and children’ could enjoy even implying that the current golf course was too hard for women.  This is really sad.
Sandringham golf course is something to be treasured as a national icon for all to enjoy.  A proper suburban un-manicured 18 hole challenge that is part of the history and culture of Melbourne.
Don’t screw up this non-elitist public space because it can never be replaced.
In good faith,
Jon Langevad
I am biased having first experienced golf at Sandringham some 50+ years ago and still try to defeat self humiliation on a semi regular basis.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CEO Strategic Vs Minutia

“What happens when an organisation becomes introverted on itself and is so concerned with the management of minutia that not only does the ‘big picture’ get shuffled aside, but the future of the organisation becomes hostage to spotlight seeking vocal minorities who even further divert good people from strategic planning to managing minority imposed day to day crises?  And, like any dysfunction causing attention to be held captive, the more it continues the more people shrink inside self imposed boundaries and their new norms become more and more subjugated to real strategic requirements.
Everyone at times prefers to think and act in minutia terms because it’s a way of stabilising the mind but we all don’t actively try to get everyone else to do the same.  For example think of the golf driving range or archery as ‘wellness’ activities because they force a singular focus and a resting of the mind.  In most organisations the minutia set never move to actually playing golf in the big world away from the driving range with the corollary being ‘small minded management misfeasance’ rises from the bottom up and infects all levels including the CEO.
Every company has good people who plan their socks off but their plans fail to make it to reality because, senior staff are so bound up with minority groups, minutia thinking and top down micro management that they lose sight of creating greatness and a company leaping into the future with people who rise above the everyday – as the norm.
Creating this future focus is the role of the CEO and unfortunately that role is often occupied by traditional thinking small thinking people who act as they believe they have to.  For example, the expression, ‘Government moves slowly’ is brain sappingly wrong and diverts strategic thinking to an introverted view of the world focusing on minutia. Governments do not move slowly, people do.  These slow moving people are the ‘minutia set’ who feel at home analysing every detail before they can move on.  We need these people to survive the information potpourri but we also need those who can think strategically, create greatness and make it happen.
Some years ago I gave an address on ‘block people Vs jigsaw people.  I coined this term to describe strategic Vs minutia thinking in an organisation and how important both were to survival.  Problems arose when one infected the other.
The new world CEO must lead from a strategic view backed up by senior management then the minutia set can run the day to day aspects of the organisation within the framework as set by the CEO whilst he or she develops with the key stakeholders a grand plan for the future – and implements it!”

 Seems obvious, doesn’t it.  Yet, it’s anything but common place.

Friday, September 30, 2016

VIETNAM AND US [2]

HANOI - VIETNAM ...

Hanoi is insane!  Cars, scooters and millions of people all vying for the same space. It is also hot and humid only curtailed by another zillion electric fans on the footpaths aimed at where locals virtually live, cook and eat on tiny plastic chairs between the quadzillion scooters perched on the same footpaths.  Pedestrians are forced to walk on the road risking ambush by any one of a million teenage Rambos on 50cc scooters of death.  Indeed, pedestrian crossings only mean that the petrol driven onslaught may move around you as you cling onto some deity whilst wishing for a slightly longer life.
Chaos worthy of a comic.  Yet, it all works amongst the cacophony of horns and overworked horn laryngitis-bleats. Mum, dad and two kids on one scooter blissfully carving through and around buses, trucks and other parents on the school run.  These kids will be able to handle anything as they grow up.
Then, add vendors carrying payloads four times bigger than their bike, cyclo men hawking business as they roll by and more traditional shoulder denting double basket women ignoring everyone.
I did say chaos didn’t I!
We didn’t quite figure out what a ‘walking street’ was as they were also full of the above mentioned chaos.  Perhaps these streets were labelled as ‘walking’ to concentrate tourists into more targeted strike zones with lots of hole-in-the-wall shops selling everything as well as people on the aforementioned plastic stools drinking indeterminate beverages.
All this capped off by on-display barbecued meats on street side trolleys one of which was piled with preroasted dogs. Yes, what seemed incredibly like a bunch of Fidos; head, teeth and all.
Taxi’s are an oasis of semi-calm as long as you keep your eyes closed whilst a ride with a cyclo man can be a life changing experience.  Semi-reclining whilst looking at traffic between your toes having completely surrendered life and limb to a stranger pushing you-first into the chaos. He knows who will get smacked first!
Repairing to any air conditioned space with a sound proof door is cathartic and indeed critical for brain-load survival.  The concierge saying hello whilst he opens the door is therapeutic only bettered by the door closing behind you.
Yet right in the middle of chaotic dysfunction we have a university which has focussed on literature for around a thousand years.  How cool is that!

For a Melbourne bloke Hanoi is gob smacking and quite an experience.  Every facet is different and challenging but isn’t that what makes a good holiday?

VIETNAM AND US [1]

GETTING THERE AND BACK ...

'Air Vietnam'

Flight VN300 Saigon to Narita 13/9/2016
Booked a window seat specifically but on arriving at the allocated seat we found ‘no’ window.  Yes, no window – it was blank!  However to the staffs’ credit on asking we were transferred to another row with a window so all was well but the question remains as to why we were allocated a totally inappropriate seat. Adding on to this level of dysfunction was the fact that one of our screens didn’t work as didn’t several other screens in the immediate area.  How can this lack of maintenance happen and what does it tell you about airworthiness?

Flight VN257 Hanoi to Ho Chi Min 24/9/2016
No wine, beer, tea, coffee or indeed even headphones plus the worst sandwich I have ever part eaten on a plane.  On the reverse trip from Saigon to Hanoi we received all of the above so therefore it is this flight which failed to offer expected and standard services.  As this is less than standard we suggest that you check what is supposed to be served on each leg.  Service is a critical part of flying and staff curtailing this service so they can sit down for most of the flight is not on.

Flight VN781  Saigon to Melbourne 24/9/2016
More problems.  This was an 8 hour flight which meant we were captive for the duration depending on Vietnam Air for entertainment, comfort and sustenance.  My knees were hard against the seat in front which was tighter than our other two flights with the same airline.  This made it difficult to move and most certainly difficult to try and sleep.  As well and once again, one of our screens had a vision fault.  But, the worst part of this flight was the food.  Fish for supper was undercooked, mushy and thoroughly awful and the entire breakfast was inedible with the exception of the yogurt.  I have pictures.

Go elsewhere.  It’s a pity because the staff were great and most hospitable. Our problems were management based around maintenance, food and misrepresented expectations.  Dysfunctions on one flight may have been a one off but three in a row says Vietnam air need help with a few aspects.


BREAD

I have always been confused as to just why bread is supposed to be served with everything.  Bread is a filler and except for certain specific dishes it has little place in a properly constructed meal.  Mop up sauce with a teaspoon and savour the true flavour without diminution of flavour through bread.  
We make our own bread and charge for it but really hope people never order it. 
As an example of where bread IS important, we serve a steak tartare which as you know is yummy gooey soft and full of flavour but it needs a texture change so we serve butter sauté ‘soldiers’  to act as the fork.  The bread is integral with the entrée because of that texture change.   
I just thought of another exception, a chip butty.  Standard unwholesome white bread buttered and wrapped around crispy hot salted chips.  That’s about as good as woofing a dimmi on a street corner at 2am.  Yum.
So fine dining at work vs  gob smackingly good chip butties - time and place.  Eat bread at home but let a proper restaurant tempt you with all sorts of flavours and textures.
Jon

Mon Ami Restaurant

Monday, May 30, 2016

LEADERS [?] DEBATE


There was something prophetic about Sunday night’s ‘leaders debate’ replacing ‘Grand Designs’ on the ABC.  Or at least it should have been.
The media nor the leaders seemed to recognise or understand that here and now in the public arena were two blokes each of whom purported to be the better than the other at leading the political party which would take Australia roaring into the future.
Instead the self absorbed intellectual lightweights asking the questions focused on minutia to which they both should have retorted, ‘Do you know what a leader is?  If you want to know about tax cuts or healthcare go and ask the appropriate minister – I deal with the vision for our country and where we need and want to be – the grand design’.
The trouble is that reporters deal in minutia because that’s their job.  They are not paid to think about the so-called big picture; and it’s so obvious it’s galling.
There was no doubt that the Prime Minister was way ahead of Mr Shorten in this respect albeit he also was dragged down by stupid questions.  This was supposed to be a ‘leaders’ debate, not a portfolio debate.
For example, if anyone cares to remember the ‘I have a dream’ speech by Mr King in 1963, he focuses on a vision and brings everyone along for the ride.  A ‘grand design’ vision so prophetic it and Mr King will live forever.
Now, no one expects that sort of belly fire from either man but we do have a right to expect a ‘grand design’ by each ‘leader’ which we as mere mortals can cling to, believe in and focus towards.
This is standard business 101 and, at least for this little black duck, is mission-critical.  Don’t be dragged down by small people.  I have written many articles about the difference between jigsaw people and block people both of whom are indeed so called mission critical because block people work from minutia up whereas jigsaw people work from the perfect down.
Mr Prime Minister and Mr Shorten, as leaders and jigsaw people, what are your parties’ perfect visions for Australia?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

ACLAND STREET DOWNGRADE



Since when does PTV dictate what happens on our streets?  Is it lawful for PTV to demand the inclusion of so called tram ‘super-stops’ especially where it is obviously not in the best interests of Melbourne’s history or tourist nature and serves little benefit?

For example, PTV has managed to ruin Bridge Road in Richmond, Fitzroy Street in St Kilda and Bourke Street in the city with the inclusion of the concrete behemoths commonly known as ‘superstops’ and now they want to add another lump of concrete in the middle of Acland Street St Kilda only 100m or so away from the from the existing super stop outside Luna Park.

The stupidity of this is amazing.

Acland Street is a go-to spot for any and all local, national and international tourists because it is somewhat quirky with frenetic bustling people fighting for room with cars and trams.  It is this chaotic mix in a grung-ish setting which makes it unique.  Parking’s free, if you can get one, and trams rattle through dodging tripped out tripped off or tripped up peds.  Add the odd Ferrari or bikie and the picture is complete.  All things for all people.  The cruisers, the diners, the rubberneckers, the locals and the transient homeless all cohabitating.

Fantastic.

Now some closed eye bureaucrat wants to plasticise the street into yet another boring as bat-shit foreign inspired mall.  The same as any other grassed in plastic have-a-nice-day space. Has Melbourne lost the plot [pun intended] in as much as we seem to want to destroy our icons in the name of stupidity.

Why not build a 'vintage' tram line between St Kilda and Port Melbourne instead and increase the tourist potential instead of destroying it?

Think what will put Melbourne on the map in 50 years and it will not be super stops!