It took Mile End Sandwich almost a month to get smoked meat back on its menu after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Red Hook commissary. But after raising the sandwich price from $12 to $14, a heated discourse between owner Noah Bernamoff and unhappy patrons hit Twitter and Facebook.
A disappointed customer took to Facebook and accused Bernamoff of “stealing” since the bagel she ordered wasn’t the deli’s signature Montreal bagel, and thus started a backlash on the social media platforms between Bernamoff and Mile End customers.
Last night, EVLocal chronicled smoked meat’s return. Bernamoff said the meat was produced upstate and transported back to the city, which accounted for the post-Hurricane price increase.
“Our issues are much more fundamental than a dollar a sandwich,” Bernamoff said on Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve increased costs because of our inability to do stuff in Red Hook. Traveling upstate, working in other people’s kitchens, taking the help of some of our restaurant friends . . . that comes at a cost.”
“When you create an analogy between a $13 sandwich and robbery,” Bernamoff said, “I took it personally because I’m not stealing anything from anybody.”
Bernamoff said he received many e-mails in the past 24 hours, but one stood out. “I woke up this morning and got an e-mail from a total stranger who was like, I love your place, but there’s no way you’re going to make the situation better,” he said. “You should apologize and eat the shit sandwich. That person was absolutely right.”
This morning, an apology note appeared on Mile End’s Facebook page.
I apologize for having offended a customer who was trying to voice an opinion. The subsequent use of unprofessional language to fend off her army of Facebook friends was clearly not in my best interest. Mile End has always been a very chill place with a staff that works hard to please its customers as most of you who have visited can attest.
This past month has pushed and prodded the emotions of everyone at Mile End in ways that, unfortunately, too many of us can now truly understand. The business faces new challenges; the way we address them will define who we are and what we hope to be.
I have always welcomed constructive criticism — when constructive qualities are traded for mere snark, however, the line between what’s personal and what’s suggestive can be blurred. That said, I recognize that I crossed those same lines in response and for that I am sorry, particularly to our customers, fans, and Facebook followers.
Mile End has made massive headway since it got power back on in the Red Hook kitchen 10 days ago, but it will take a while before things are back to pre-Sandy standards. “We’re taking baby steps in the next couple of weeks,” Bernamoff said. “My hope is that come January we’re at the critical basis that Mile End stands for.”
About the flare on Facebook and Twitter, Bernamoff said: “It feels like reality TV to me. I have a warehouse to rebuild.”