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Home and City

To the Editor:

Darryl McGrath’s story on 130 Dove Street’s situation [“The Wreck Next Door,” Oct. 14] offered a reasonable summary of the frustration of being a homeowner in the city of Albany. Many of us have bought and invested in property in the city only to see numerous properties around us decline, due in my mind to absentee landlords, disrespectful tenants and unresponsive city officials. It’s the lack of understanding on the city’s part that many of us view as one of the severest problems. Assistant Corp. Counsel Terrance Gorman commented, “things always seem worse in your own backyard than if it was in another part of town.” Well, what part of “town” does he live in that he does not go home to at night and listen to the recital of problems by his neighbors? What neighborhood association meetings does he participate in where he does not share in the laundry list of lack of code enforcement? I think if more city employees lived in the city, police and fire too, that these employees would feel a much greater sense of “urgency” with these issues. As an active neighborhood resident and business owner for more than 20 years, working to make this a more livable city, I have found this has given me a clear sense of the problems at hand but have observed a lack of ability on the part of many city officials to “get it done.”

Steve Stofelano Jr.

Chef-owner, Mansion Hill Inn & Restaurant


Closing Thoughts

To the Editor:

My name is Marianne Zwicklbauer and I am writing to you on behalf of the Zwicklbauer family. We feel that the review of our restaurant [“The Best of Times, the Wurst of Times,” Food, Oct. 7] deserves some explanation.

We are closing the Bavarian Chalet on Jan. 1, permanently, a decision that we made and let our customers, purveyors and staff know about on Dec. 31, 2003. At the time we considered closing immediately, but we have weddings, anniversaries and birthdays, which are booked a year ahead of time. It was a very difficult decision, but we decided that it would not be fair to them or our regular customers of 50 years to close without considerable notice. Our employees needed to find jobs, and we were very concerned about their welfare. My parents have come out of retirement for the last year to work here, and I commute one hour each way to work.

The weeks before B.A. Nilsson’s visit were the most trying we have ever had. My grandmother, Erna Zwicklbauer, (the person who created the Bavarian Chalet), was seriously ill. She was in and out of the hospital and ended up with at-home hospice care, with her family members helping to care for her round the clock. We were all exhausted and trying to run a business at the same time. She died and her funeral was the week of your visit, with over 300 people in attendance including many old employees who loved her.

Our employees are finding other jobs, as they have to pay rent and feed themselves and their families in January. I have hired everyone who has filled out an application and do all I can to keep us staffed. We are thankful for the employees who have stayed with us through these last months knowing the job market in the restaurant industry in January has few prospects.

We were very busy that Sunday and could not fit Mr. Nilsson in the main dining area. He chose not to sit in the lounge area because he had a problem with the TV being on, and the only other option was to sit him where we did, other than turning him away entirely.

We were unaware the pork was inferior. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. It was the first chop out of a new case. We have since returned the case and ordered a different product line.

Maggi is a brewed wheat product, as soy sauce is a brewed soy product, and although high in salt, has no MSG in it. I have forwarded your description to the Nestle Company.

We agree about the trout and had already decided to remove it from the menu.

The second visit, I had both servers who were scheduled call in sick and was unable to replace them with anyone. Our bartender and our chef helped out.

If Mr. Nilsson knows of an area bakery that offers the authentic Black Forest cake he craves, please let us know. Our old suppliers no longer have it available.

Mr. Nilsson made a comment concerning our “bus person,” whom he called “ a busboy” and mentioned he spoke little English. The “busboy” is Farag, a grown man who emigrated from Egypt in 1995. He moved here to give his three daughters equality and an education they would not have received in their own country. To accomplish this he works at another restaurant for breakfast and lunch then comes directly here to work nights. He is highly educated and taught math in his own country. We find his comments concerning this very hard- working and honorable gentleman offensive and arrogant.

It makes us all very sad to see a review like this in our last three months of a 50-year business. What we would like is for everyone to understand our struggle and for all of our regular customers to be able to visit with our family in the next two months so that we may close our doors with grace.

Marianne Zwicklbauer


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