Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bar Trade

"Traditional" public bar trade is less than 3% of the gross income of the Wayside Tavern.

By quoting this one statistic Mine Host puts into perspective the common misconception that over-the-bar sales of liquor are of any importance to a pub.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What a Cute Little Doggy Woggy!

The Wayside Tavern has seen many & varied workplace injuries.
Most (ie the genuine ones) are related to broken glass.

There is an exception to every rule:

One of the lads is quite ill. He is pale & lacks energy, and in a sure-fire test that he really is ill, declines to partake of alcohol.

He and another guard were escorting an evictee from the premises. The eviction was quite straighforward, the evictee being a lightweight in capacity for both liquor and violence. Thus no trouble was anticipated, they just grabbed an elbow each & marched him out.

At the Wayside Tavern placid evictees are released at the door & advised where to find a taxi.

This event occurred at 1.30am, at this time the street in front of the Wayside Tavern is empty.

Correction, is usually empty. For as he changed balance & released the evictee, this lad tripped on a passing Scotty Dog, fell to the concrete breaking this skin on his arm and collecting the serious infection.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

10 Years

October 1998.

Mine Host is wrapping up the loose ends of several years in the coffee & halal kebab business in western Sydney.

Options for the future are pondered:
1/. Go back to being a Ringer. Not on your nelly!
2/. Find a pizza/kebab/coffee shop somewhere available on vendor finace. Rather not.

Then a conversation with someone from his hometown reveals that the boss of one of the pubs has just abandoned the place.
Next thing the owner of the pub is wanting a meeting with Mine Host.
Mine Host is short (very short) on capital, but longer on expertise, and in the past has been particularly non-traditional in his approach to handling a pub. (This is why the owner has contacted him, he wants someone who can make the place pay)

Mine Host offers to share in the debt, and all the work. An interim operator (who had no interest in staying) has picked the pub up somewhat.

Negotiations completed Mine Host journeys north to the Wayside Tavern.
For several years it didn't look like working, the bank was too unforgiving of the way the previous owner had operated.

10 years later. Mine Host is established in the pub trade.

Some now almost nostaligic memories:
Watching the door (especially in the hours prior to opening time) in case of arrival of the official Recievers.
Keeping yesterday's takings packed inside a bag of clothing, "personal possessions" in the hope Receivers would unwittingly allow Mine Host to carry it off the premises.
Ordering wine by the half-box, as there wasn't the money to pay for a full box.
Working public holidays himself, from 5am until midnight, to save the cost of public holiday rates.
Staying up Saturday night (Sunday morning really) to scrub the pub, to save paying Sunday cleaning rates.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Witness for the Prosecution

If one is a party to a civil case in Qld, you just turn up on the day & lurk anywhere in the environs of the courthouse, you will be called when the case is to be heard.

One of the quirks of the NSW court system is that all parties in any cases set down for that day, MUST wait inside the courtroom, all day, until called.

This is a royal pain.

One has nothing to do but witness proceedings in any cases heard before yours.

In this case, Mine Host had a grandstand view of the tail end of a criminal matter.

From what Mine Host could piece together (coming into the case part way through) The owner of a kebab shop was answering a charge of receiving stolen goods. Specifically, an (expensive) commerical espresso machine.

The police prosecutor took us through where the machine was found (in storage at the shop) & listed lots of other stuff which had been found at the home of the accused (hot DVD's & various other similar stuff, all inside cupboards & cabinets near the TV).

It didn't look good for the accused, it was the instinct of Mine Host that the kebab shop owner, a young fellow from Turkey, was guilty.

Thus far Mine Host & the police (and the magistrate, as could plainly be seen) were on the same page. All believed the Turk was guilty.

However this differed dramatically when the accused appeared as a witness and the police prosecutor began to examine him.

The Turk was operating a kebab shop in a shopping centre.
The Turk lived somewhere away from the shopping centre.
The Turk was the single parent of a 12-14yo lad.

The stolen goods were (a) a $10,000 or so espresso machine (requiring significant repair) useful in the shop, but not able to be used, and (b) a pile of consumer electronic leisure software (DVD's) the titles indicating they were unsuitable for young children. (note: not XXX stuff, just stuff unsuitable for children)

There was no indication that the espresso machine was stolen, except the police said it "must have been". There was no complainant, nobody identifying the machine as their stolen property, no match with a serial number of a stolen machine etc etc etc. Incredibly, the Police Prosecutor went on to list many other items of equipment found in the storage locker with the espresso machine, all of which "must" be stolen, but that no charges would be brought for these other items (hammers, saws, various small tools).

This standard evidence.. must be allowed in NSW courts.

The DVD's were branded with the name of a local video rental shop, which had reported a break-in several months previosly, and the loss of an unspecified number of DVD's.

Under cross examination, the Turk's story was:
1/. The coffee machine was offered to him cheap by an unidentified stranger who came into his shop.
(Implausible, Mine Host does NOT believe, Magistrate & Police Prosecutor actually swallowed this part of the story whole)

2/. The coffee machine was deposited at the shopping centre loading dock by unknown persons and a shopping centre janitor alerted the Turk that a delivery had been made for him.
(Highly likely, stolen or not, Mine Host believes this part, Magistrate & Police Prosecutor clearly did NOT believe this. They seemed amazed that anybody would be asked to believe that ANYTHING is left anywhere, even at a business loading dock, to be collected later by the person whose name is attached to the parcel)
(- Until confronted with events like this, one forgets how clueless about real life experiences of the population are the police & magistrates. )

3/. He had not seen much of his house, or son, as he was working a zillion hours per week in the shop, and slept on the sofa in the first room. And for weeks on end not entering any part of the house except the sofa and the shower (outside).
(Having done the same himself, Mine Host believes this, it is consistent with about 120% of small food businesses operators, especially in the early stages.) (Cluelessly the Magistrate and Police Prosecutor clearly thought this was made up, that nobody would work so hard, or fall asleep for weeks on end just inside the door of their house)

4/. He knew that lots of DVD's were in his house, had no idea that any of them were "hot", or that any of them were inappropriate for children the age of his son.
(Mine Host, can imagine what he would have got up to at that age, if dad was at work 25 hours each day.)
The Magistrate was having none of this, declaring that all parents keep a watchful eye on the type of DVD's their kids are viewing, and found the Turk guilty.

Just like that.

Almost weak kneed at the total and complete cluelessness of the magistrate, Mine Host was about to say something, but was silenced by a glare from the bench.

For Mine Host had spoken out earlier in the cross-examination, when the Police Prosecutor and Magistrate had both latched cunningly onto what was (in their mind) a fatal flaw in the Turk's story: that no paperwork (invoice etc) had been given at the supposed time of sale of the espresso machine.

Compounding their (seemingly non-stop) public display of cluelessness, both Mag & PP patently disbelieved the accused when he stated that he did all his deals "in cash, without paperwork".
(Gee, how do these dickheads think half the NESB fast-food economy operates?)

So deep ingrained in Mag & PP was cowardice in the face of the citadel of bureaucracy, that they were unable to conceptualise middle class citizens having the drive and enterprise to ignore government bulldust.

Indeed, for the Turk, streamlining his business by ignoring as much paperwork as possible was likely the only reason his head had been above water.

Mine Host's outburst? He had stood up and wearily stated to the court, mainly at the Police Prosecutor "Crikey, don't you fellers have any idea what you are talking about?" At the time the questioning had been deep into the intricacies of machinery depreciation and the applicability of GST. The PP hadn't the fainest clue what he was talking about, and had taken to turning to the public gallery with a confused & desperate face, hoping someone would come to his rescue.

As had indeed happened, the party who had brought Mine Host to court, the financial controller in a big corporation, scurried forward to confer with the police prosecutor and help the prosecution rescue their case.

There was no evidence presented in court that the espresso machine was stolen, and a strong liklihood that the son or some inappropriate companions of his were responsible for the DVD's, the prosecution should NOT have had a case.

Mine Host bristled with sympathy for a fellow traveller (ie, small business operator being squashed by the system - in this case being found guilty of being being someone whose makeup sufficiently confused a Magistrate, such that the Magistrate was completely unable to identify with the Turk.)