Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sausage Kingdom Destroyed By Pawns.

I’d like to start off by saying that Jody Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom in Venice Beach, California is without a doubt the greatest gourmet sausage or hot dog you might ever sink your teeth into. In contrast to this Jody Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom in Gilroy, California is perhaps the biggest culinary disappointment of the year.

Being a huge fan of this brand from many trips to southern California I always tried to make it out to Venice to get one of these tasty, snappy hot dogs or sausages. The line; always long, but worth the wait and the product never disappointed me. I was very excited to see the brand at the Gilroy outlets one day. I thought I recognized it from the distance but I had to get closer to confirm that it was true, and it was. On opening day I was there to get the goods; a Kobe beef hot dog and some chili-fries. Jody Maroni himself was there schmoozing the customers and the food was great.

Unfortunately, shortly after the Sausage King left for his southern kingdom the jesters quickly took over and the food quality seemed to become a lesser priority. I submitted the following letter to let them know of my concern for the quality of what was a great product:

Dear Jody Maroni's,

I wanted to write to let you know about my latest visit to your Gilroy store.

I have been a huge fan of your products for many years, frequenting the Venice Beach store many times and most lately the Gilroy Store.

We were there on opening to support the brand and have always felt you had a superior product.

Today I ordered my favorite; Andouille Sausage fully loaded.

When I bit into the sausage something was wrong. The outer ¼ inch was hard and dry. The cut end of the sausage looked dried out and black and I was concerned about the quality of this meal. I proceeded to remove the sausage from the bun to find a large fissure on the side, most likely caused by being dropped in the deep fryer for reheating. This dog is dead! Inedible, and really disappointing.

When I would think of the Jody Maroni Brand I knew I was getting a quality product. I'm not sure the people running your Gilroy store have the same conviction to quality as the corp stores.

I'm afraid I no longer have faith that the quality meal I have become accustomed to can be provided at this location. I know that franchises can easily lose the company mission. I know today they did not even come close to meeting that mission:

"To make the world's greatest gourmet sausage.

To carry the spirit of the boardwalk to the boardroom, the

supermarket and the streets - wherever people work, shop and


To serve the world's greatest sandwiches, hot dogs and fries.

To amuse, delight, satisfy and enlighten."

Perhaps the next time I find myself in Venice Beach I will be able to enjoy the Andouille Sausage again.

I must say I was very impressed when I got a reply within twenty four hours, in fact it may have been less than eight hours. The reply is as follows:

Dear Mr. Levi:

I am so sorry to hear about your experience but am glad you took the
time to tell us about it.

I have passed on your observation to our director of operations and the
gm of the location. You should hear from them as well.

I can only say that we intend to do a lot better and can only improve
with comments from our customers such as you.

I hope you will give it another try.

The General Manager of the Gilroy location did in fact also reply within a short period of time, here is his reply:

Dear Mr. Levi,

My name is Sean O'Donnell and I am the General Manager of Jody Maroni's Gilroy location. Our corporate office forwarded me your e-mail and, upon reading it, I was shocked, upset and embarrassed.

I can assure that the standards of Jody Maroni's product and service are just as important to us here as they are in Venice. The quality of our product is what sets us appart from the rest of the field and keeps a loyal guest such as yourself coming back for more. All of the Jody Maroni philosophies that you listed in your e-mail are more than just retoric to us. They are the reasons we do what we do. I would not be able to wear the smile that I do and joke around with my staff and guests if I wasn't sure that we were serving the best
product out there.

I can't apologize enough for the sub-standard meal that you received and wish that I had an acceptable reason for it other than temorary insanity. I can only assure you that our staff is dedicated and well trained and that this momentary lapse will not be allowed to happen again. The team members here in Gilroy take great pride in what they do and I can tell you that they were more upset with one another than with me when I read your e-mail to them this morning before we opened.

My words here are sincere but, I know, they are just words. It is our actions that
mold and define us. That is why I hope you will accept this email as an invitation for you and a guest to come back to Jody Maroni's in Gilroy and let us show you what we are really made of. You have my personal guarantee that your next visit will be worlds apart from your last. Hopefully, we can restore your faith in the idea that you can get the best gourmet sausage out there, a warm smile, and good laugh at Jody Maroni's no matter what beach it is on.

Sean O'Donnell
General Manager
Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom

Well I guess he was right, maybe not to the degree that he was thinking; but my next visit was OK. You know how when you have a bad experience; that taste is hard to get out of your mouth. I figured a couple of more times and I would be over the bad joo joo from that last visit.

This leads us to my latest and worst experience at the declining realm of the tube steak. You know; when you know you should leave, but you don’t? We’ve all had it, that feeling. Mine started when we walked through the door and up to the counter to order.

It all started with the whole “no tomatoes” thing or salsa on the steak nachos as it would be in this case. So get over it; California tomatoes are fine! But OK, it’s easier to charge me the same and leave half the toppings off. Oh and by the way we are out of steak, but we have chicken! OK, we’ll have the chicken… Just kidding how about sausage on your nachos? SAUSAGE? Really, on nachos? What the hell; it is a sausage kingdom so let’s live it up; sausage it is! Now that we have the whole nachos thing sorted out we also order a hot dog, an andouille sausage, and some garlic fries. All in all a pretty basic order, or so you would think. But how many things can really go wrong with such a complex order?

No less than twenty minutes elapse before our number was called to pick up our order. Mind you to be fair it was about 3:00pm and there were eight people in the store, never mind that five of them were behind the counter. But I guess 20 minutes goes much faster in Sausage Kingdom time and they all seemed to be having such a great time!

Anyways, I go to pick up the tray of food and even at first glance I can tell that something is awry in the Kingdom. The Sausage Nachos are dark brown; not from the chili that they are loaded with, but because they have been incinerated in the broiler. Oh and the guacamole, I guess it has tomatoes in it as well so you won’t be getting any of that either. What you will get for seven dollars is some burnt chips with chili and cheese!

Have you ever had ice cold garlic fries? I don’t know how fries can get that cold after being in a 350 degree oil bath, but these seemed to have developed frostbite waiting for their suntanned cousins to get out of the broiler. I think the hot dog may have been on the same arctic excursion as it was also on the frigid side, they were neither haute nor hot! When we went up to have some of this food replaced with a warmer version, the cook immediately relieved himself of all responsibility by letting us know he was just called in to help with the rush and is now on his way home. Upon great protest the absent guacamole was replaced with some slices of avocado. God forbid you mash them up and leave out the; oh so scary tomatoes. While the andouille sausage was pretty good, the desiccated shards of charred meat, faintly resembling sausage atop the nachos were a horrendous disgrace to the Kingdom itself.

Jody Maroni’s northern most Kingdom of Sausage was stricken from our list of favorite eateries as their dogs are no longer haute. Perhaps someday the king will return to claim his land back from the jesters. And today if it’s great sausage you seek, you will definitely need to head south.

1 comment:

foodluvin said...

Yea it is hard to replicate a good mom and pop dog shop a lot of it depends on the passion and dedication the original owner puts into it and that is really hard to outsource!