Thursday, December 04, 2008

The End of an Era??

I moved to Greensboro in 1983 as a manager for Casa Gallardo Mexican Restaurant. It was a year or so later when I needed a piece of equipment that our corporate supply department did not have. One of our customers suggested that I go to Allstate Restaurant Equipment to get it. I went to Allstate, met Irv Cohen, found what I needed, and have been going there ever since. Over the last twenty something years I have done business with a bunch of great people at Allstate. Cheryl, Brenda, Lois, Rick, Ronnie, Tommy, Chris, Craig, Joe B. and a bunch of other folks have all treated me nicely, and according to my wife, that's not always easy to do.

Irv Cohen is the king of restaurant equipment in Greensboro. More than that, he is the undisputed king of used restaurant equipment in the Triad. If you need anything in restaurant equipment, Irv probably has it.

Irv does have a serious personal flaw. His flaw being that he's a liberal Democrat. Of course, Obama may change that for him. If he didn't get a new car regularly, he would probably still have that damn Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker on his car. Irv is one of the very few Democrats that I will admit to knowing. I guess that no one is perfect!!

Irv is addicted to buying and selling. As I suffer from the same affliction, though on a much lesser scale, I understand it completely. Irv has several buildings filled with used restaurant equipment. Irv sorts his stuff about like I do. I put my stuff into piles based on which century of my life that I purchased it. Yes, it's a pretty big pile.

I have always enjoyed going to Allstate and looking through the warehouse for something. There is very little rhyme or reason to the manner in which things are stored. But, Irv almost always knows where something is. He also knows what he paid for it and what you are going to pay. It's always been fun just looking through all the stuff just to see what's there. There are some great items and then there is some shit that's going to end up as ballast on a ship going to China. I think that the proper term would be "eclectic collection".

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Allstate, picking up a few things for the restaurant, when I saw a sign about an "Upstairs showroom". I asked Brenda if it was a joke. She assured me that they had actually cleaned and organized the warehouse. I walked out there and was stunned. Equipment placed in rows, items sorted, walkways between the rows, I couldn't believe it!! It was clean and neat. I asked Irv about it and he told me that he was not in complete agreement with what had happened.

It was a huge culture shock for me! Walkways are for wusses, real men want to climb over things and dodge obstacles to find their objective. Walkways and rows take all of the challenges out of it. Hell, you may as well order from a catalog or go online as walk down a neat row. There's no excitement there.

I guess that retirement is getting closer for Irv. The business will soon be run by people who sort and organize. They will still have a huge selection but the thrill of finding something in the messy piles will be gone. The reality is that there are probably only of few of us left who enjoy that experience anyway. This must be what the dinosaurs felt like near the end.

Irv, it was hell of a run while it lasted!


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