Open Thread Wednesday 10/29/08

BHB Photo Club pic by matt de brooklyn

BHB Photo Club pic by matt de brooklyn

What’s on your mind? Comment away!  P.S. more Howl-o-ween pics at the BHB Photo Club!

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  • http://BrooklynHeightsBlog Bonnie Burke

    Do people know about the horrible things happening to long-time staff at Key Food on Montague? As I understand it, several of them tried to get into the union, but the Key Food owner was successful in keeping them out for several years. Untimately, the union came in. The owner submitted false information to the union saying they had not been employed that long causing them to lose years of their pension. Mohammed, has so far lost 7 years of his pension (He actually started in 1991. Ana lost three years of her pension and left because of that and other harrassment. Gloria and Dorothy were similarly affected.

    Now, instead of being a manager, Mohammed has been demoted to overnight stock boy and cleaner. This morning the owner sent people with cameras in — they messed up his shelves and then took pictures of it.

    When the union met with the owner on Mohammed’s behalf, the owner claimed Mohammed has sexually harrassed his wife. (Anyone who knows Mohammed knows how ludicrous this is!!)

    How can we help these folks who’ve given so much of themselves to us over the years? Are there lawyers out there who can look into this? I feel like this is our own version of the “Saigon Grill”.

  • Mike Schultz

    Bonnie thanks for sharing with all of us – this is terrible and disgraceful.

    I know Mohammad, and he would never sexually harass anyone. It sounds like Rico, his wife, and the other owners are trying to push him out because of not paying for back overtime and pension. They should be ashamed of themselves because Mohammad is the best thing about that place. Eveidenced by no one knowing the owners and everyone going to Mohammad or Summaro for all of their needs

    Should we organize a petition or a protest outside in front of key food for one day? Or even call one of those TV shows and do a shame on you segment

  • Cranky

    Hey I’ll sign a petition. Mohammed wouldn’t do that.

  • AliG

    Just posted this on the KeyFood “contact us” website.

    Pls see the attached blog on what is happening at the Key Food on Montague Street. You realize this is illegal, right? You may have a HUGE lawsuit on your hands as well as boycotting of your store.
    You may have to scroll down to see all the comments.

    P.S. if any of you would care to share your thoughts with them, the link is

  • anon

    “A woman was mugged last night at 8PM on the corner of Clinton & Schermerhorn. Two men approached her and held a knife to her back. I repeat, at 8PM! The police told her to spread the word and let people know to be aware. So I’m passing the info along. Be careful.” received this today from a friend

  • my2cents

    I have a totally unrelated, happier thing to ask about.
    Does anyone know the Gray Siggy’s restaurant cat? I found him wandering around near plymouth church last night ad brought him back to the restaurant. But is he supposed to be roaming around? Next time should I leave him alone? I didn’t want him to get run over or anything.

  • since47

    I am shocked that most of you, never at a loss for words on the most insignificant stories on this site, have nothing to say about this apparent Key Food disaster. Wake up everybody!

  • JGM

    That is horrible regarding the employees at Key Food…fortunately the new Trader Joes makes a boycot pretty easy…but that will not really help the employees unfortunately. I am sure the union has some members that may be able to make the owner see light

  • Heights Neighbor

    I wrote a strong comment about Mohammed on the Key Food website at the address above. He’s the best thing about that store!

  • Nancy

    I have sent them a complaint about their treatment of their workers, but expect it to fall on deaf ears, like every other contact I have made with them. I am no big union supporter, but I am a supporter of these workers. I did say that with the new Gristede’s opening soon, plus Trader Joes and Fairway, people will no longer choose to go to Key Food if they treat their employees in such a disgraceful manner.

  • bornhere

    I, too, have e-mailed Key Food customer service. I have found Mohammed, the delivery guys, and the check-out people to be fine and helpful. I have zero use for the owner, who does have something of the roving eye, or whatever it is he is accusing Mohammed of.

  • Mike Schultz

    In case you want to call and speak to someone directly the contact info for the corporate office is

    Key Food
    1200 South Ave.
    Staten Island, NY 10314 (Map)
    Phone: 718-370-4200
    Fax: 718-370-4225

    And then dial 0 to get an operator and put you in touch with the customer complaint people who were very nice and said they would escalate it to their bosses – we will see if they do

  • soulyinclined

    Thank you BHB for holding the State Senate debate last night between John Chromczak and Dan Squadron. Despite the poor community turn out it was a great forumn. I have to say I was very impressed by Mr. Chromcazk’s message. While Mr. Squadron did come off as wise beyond his 28 years the argument for reform and change in Albany was clearly dictated by Mr. Chromczak. I urge all of you to take a look at Mr. Chromczak’s website, especially his issues page:

    As an openly gay Republican he has already demonstrated the courage it is going to take to go up against Albany’s existing power structure. Last night Mr. Chromczak displayed the type of fortitude and strength that is needed if we hope to clean up state politics. Obviously the 25th Senate District is overwhelmingly Democratic but I will be one of the many Obama voters pulling the lever for Mr. Chromczak on Tuesday.

  • Jazz

    turnout last night seemed amazing to me considering most think it’s in the bag for squadron

  • http://www.brooklynbackstretch.blogspot BKBS

    my2cents: a couple of years ago, I found that cat wandering around near Plymouth, considered rescuing it, and then abandoned the idea, assuming, because he was so friendly and nonchalant about being outside, that he had a home.

    A few days later, I saw signs around the neighborhood that the cat had been found by someone seeking its owner.

    The cat was eventually returned to Siggy’s, and my understanding is that it essentially lives in the basement to keep rodents away, though I’ve sometimes seen it in the restaurant.

    I vowed that if I ever had a chance to rescue it again, I would…I don’t think Siggy’s takes good care of him.

    If you see him again, feel free to contact me through my website…I’ll take him!

  • nabeguy

    Here’s my post to Key Food
    I am outraged to hear some of the allegations about the ownership of this Key Food. I have been in the neighborhood for over 50 years and have relied on this particular supermarket as a fallback place to shop for my household needs. I am now hearing that ownership is discounting the union workers years of service to screw them out of pension rights due to them, and that the managers (Mohammed and Sumaria)are basically being set up to be fired for incompetence via a series of false and owner-created accusations The only incomptence on display is on the part of those who don’t realize how valuable these two men are to maintaining your customer base. If either of these men leaves, you truly stand to lose much more than you gain.

  • my2cents

    I think they take good care of him. He seemed healthy. Just lost. Plus he gets a lot of love from the customers when he walks around. I think he just gets outside sometimes. he has siggy’s contact info on his collar. I just had him follow me back there. I don’t think he needs to be “rescued” next time you see him. Just walk him home and he’ll appreciate it. he is a sweetheart.
    And yes, it sucks about Key food. But as I never shop there I am way ahead of you in boycotting it.

  • http://BrooklynHeightsBlog Bonnie Burke

    Thanks to all of you who responded to my outcry about what was happening to our wonderful friends at Key Food. I am in favor and willing to participate in all ideas stated. Contacting a tv station particulary attracted me — could be a way to get some muscle in there fast. I’m also hoping against hope that a US Attorney — or whoever has oversight in these matters will look into the multiple illegalities involved here. You can contact me at: (I hope this is allowed.) This web site is such a blessing!!

    All those who registered complaints so far, I thank you sooo much!
    I also intend to follow your example.

  • bornhere

    Bonnie/Mike- Would you guys be willing to talk with Mohammed first and get his “buy-in” to anything that might be considered? I would hate for any of us to get involved in something that might bring any grief to him (I mean more than he already has on his plate). My concern is that TV or “muscle” would probably really get into the situation in some sort of investigational way, and I wouldn’t want any of the workers there to be more stressed by good intentions than they already are by bad.

  • kd

    anon: My friend was mugged last Friday on the corner of Henry and Amity at 11:00 PM. A group of kids surrounded her, held a gun to her chest, and demanded her bag.

    Is anyone else concerned about what the hell is going on in this neighborhood? The police’s recommendation to “spread the word,” while appreciated, is horribly frustrating. Given last week’s blotter report in the Brooklyn Paper (, these muggings are becoming more frequent, more scary, and they’re hitting closer and closer to home. Where is the heightened police patrol? Where are the public notices? Do we have a neighborhood watch? I don’t even know.

    I’m honestly begging for a response on this. I want to reclaim a vague sense of security for myself and our neighborhood. I live on Henry, and over the past week, I’ve become scared to walk home at night. (I’d say that being a young woman makes me feel more vulnerable, but frankly, it seems our knife- and gun-wielding neighborhood muggers are equal opportunity…)

  • BKBS

    Thanks, my2cents–I really don’t need another cat, but he was so sweet and affectionate that I couldn’t really bear to think of his living in the basement (though he did nip at me last time I saw him at Siggy’s!). And when he was out last time, there was no ID on him, so his tag is definitely an improvement.

  • http://BrooklynHeightsBlog Bonnie Burke

    Hi bornhere,

    I will go right down tonight and speak to Mohammed (if he’s around)about us doing some of these things. I told him I was going to post this. He seemed quite relieved that the community cares about what’s happening to him and the others. He speaks fairly openly about the situation and seems to have a kind of nothing left to lose feeling, but you’re right about checking with him about TV and other possibilities. He also seems to have a very resiliant attitude about making the best of his demotion, etc. and doing his best.

  • http://BrooklynHeightsBlog Bonnie Burke

    Hi bornhere/Mike
    I went down to Key Food and the folks there as you suggested prefer to hold off on the “Shame on You” type TV segment idea FOR NOW. They have seen the postings and are very grateful for our support. They feel the information getting out and the community reaction may help them. We should continue posting on the Key Food Web Site, calling the Staten Island office, etc. and watch how the company reacts.

    Here’s a story about Mohammed for those that don’t know him. Some years ago, I went shopping after work and left my entire night’s earnings behind. Mohammed found it, and returned it to me the next time I came in. They’re all like that. Beyond the honesty, it’s going out of one’s way, it’s the personal touch and always being greated
    like a special friend. I feel we can’t let this disappear from our nabe.

  • my2cents

    BKBS, Yes I was tempted to take him in myself, but he had that collar so that is how i knew to return him to siggy’s. I didn’t recognize him in the dark. I just posted because i wasn’t sure if he was “allowed” to roam freely or not. He followed me back to the restaurant like a well trained dog walking off the leash. I was astonished.

  • AEB

    Late to this thread, but am outraged about Key Food. Boycotts work, as they hit people where it hurts–their pocketbooks.

    I will not shop at Key Food until the issue is addressed and resolved, if then. I hope others join me in staying away.

  • Peter

    kd, I am with you 100% on this one … never in my 3 years years living in the Heights have I ever felt “worried” to walk home at night, and I still feel quite safe, but my girlfriend visits me frequently — many times walking from Borough Hall at night — and this recent string of muggings is quite troublesome.

  • kd

    Peter, I would strongly advise your girlfriend not to walk alone from Borough Hall. When the police picked up my friend to drive her around the neighborhood (with the hope of potentially spotting her attackers), the first place they brought her was Court Street — specifically the movie theater. Apparently (but not surprisingly) that area is where most kids are picked up after committing neighborhood crimes.

    Until some of this activity seems to settle down, I don’t think I’ll be doing much leisure walking at night in the Heights, which is unfortunate.

  • hickster

    Why don’t we picket Key Food. Boycotts are great if the number of boycotters is enough for the business to actually feel an impact. However, if we bring attention to this in a medium that is between the limited exposure of this website and the mass media. neighborhood residens deserve to make an informed decision about where they spend their money.

  • bhmom

    As a neighborhood mom I might add that I have heard of more and more muggings of school children from the local schools as well, mostly during day hours as they rarely walk alone at night. Really disturbing.

  • PackerGrad

    This comment is in direct response to that of Bonnie Burke and Michael Schulz .

    As a former Key Food Employee and Brooklyn Heights resident I am surprised at how quickly everyone has jumped on board to the accusations you have made. Have you bothered to check on your facts? I do not have the inside scoop on what’s going on, but I do know I would learn both sides of the story before you make such accusations.

    I urge you to talk to the employees there, the ones that have made careers there and have worked there for decades. It is not a coincidence that Key Food Montague St. consistently averaged the lowest turnover among the corporation. You see people that are proud to work there and enjoy what they do.

    Words like “disgraceful treatment” and “sexual harassment” are being thrown around like they don’t mean anything.
    Mike Schultz and Bonnie – Would you like it if people “organized a protest” in front of your business, affect your colleagues’ livelihood? Do you realize that boycotting the store will adversely affect the entire workforce there? There are over 85 employees that earn their living there, as I once did. Have you not thought of the consequences that everyone would suffer.

    The real problem is that people make it emotional. Especially us New Yorkers, we want charming nice store managers in our neighborhood. The truth is companies face disgruntled employees on a daily basis so let us pipe down with claims of a boycotts and protests until there is a factual case. Street gossip and blog comments aren’t the facts.