Above: the scene yesterday at the Houston Zoo, where my two daughters — ages 4 and 5 — especially enjoyed the elephants, lemurs, and cotton candy. We were lucky to find a parking place!
On Thursday, the following email found its way to my inbox:
For reasons they decided not to reveal (other than “in the wake of Hurricane Harvey”… what a tone-deaf word choice!), fine wine importer Kobrand’s powers-that-be have decided at the last minute to change the location of their touring Italian tasting, scheduled for Tuesday, September 19, from Houston to Ft. Worth.
Honestly, I had been looking forward to the tasting and looking forward to writing about it on my blog and the Houston Press food and wine blog. But thanks to the “wake of Hurricane Harvey” (I still can’t get over how insensitively their marketing department’s email was worded), it will be a missed opportunity for all concerned.
Here’s an update on the Houston wine community “in the wake of Hurricane Harvey”:
– both of my favorite wine bars in Houston were open the day after the storm;
– both of my favorite wine shops were open the day after the storm;
– the Houston-area Italian restaurant where I write the wine list was closed for only one day during the storm;
– every restaurateur member of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce was open by the last day of the storm, except for one, which opened the next day.
Although the first day of school had been postponed for two weeks, my daughter started kindergarten this morning. Yesterday, I took my daughters to the zoo and we were lucky to find a parking place (that’s how crowded it was).
The USPS delivered mail to our house the day after the storm.
City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department picked up our trash and recycling two days after the storm (our regular day for pick-up; there was no disruption in service).
Houston’s airports reopened the day after the storm. I flew to California and back for work last week, with no disruption or delay.
Kobrand, I hope you “Have a wonderful day!” in Ft. Worth. (You can tell that Kobrand managers have a truly top-notch marketing machine working for them, all the way down to the authors of their heartless copy).
Houston is by no means fully recovered. It will take years, some say up to 10, to get the fourth-largest city in America back to its pre-Harvey bustle.
But I can assure you that the wine and restaurant community has rebounded swiftly and seamlessly.
Just think of all the meals that the winemakers and brand ambassadors would have enjoyed in Houston-area fine dining destinations. Just think of the tabs they would have paid and the tips they would have left. But, no, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, all of that support will go to Ft. Worth, where they surely need it most.
Have a wonderful day, Kobrand! Don’t worry about us down here in Houston. We’re doing just fine.
This is SPOT on. I am so glad I wasn’t the only person left feeling tossed by the wayside. Did you respond to their email? Curious.
Foolish for passing Houston by – fearful instead of first confirming. Also, perhaps they could have been helpful… and for not thinking of that – they behaved shamefully. Additionally, your response is sarcastic – the use of the word “peachy” is totally out of order and the writer, Ethel DeRoose needs to be chided for it’s use and counseled to never speak to clients, customers, or human beings like that again – FOR SHAME!!! And, by the way, the word “gaggle”, is rightly applied to geese and not to human beings.
So – to put it succinctly: Kobrand was or maybe is:
Fearful; Shameful; Ignorant; and Inhumane!
I don’t and won’t need to be reminded to never purchase anything with the name or brand KOBRAND!
Thanks, Renia, for the solidarity. I didn’t respond to the email, no. See you soon.
Dear Mr. Parzen,
While we understand your disappointment at not being able to have free access to sample our excellent portfolio and write about its quality for your gaggle of readers, we must regrettably adhere to our decision. Since things are so peachy for you and yours in Houston, perhaps you can enjoy a drive to north and let us entertain you there.
While your estimation of your blog and your column for the Houston Press (we are not familiar with that title; is it a wine and spirits website?) seem to be high, we have other considerations when it comes to scheduling our events. Dallas and Ft. Worth are also home to great wine communities — perhaps you have met Alfonso Cevola? He is but one of the knowledgable people in the Dallas – Ft. Worth wine world — and we look forward to seeing him on the 19th. (If you do attend, we’ll be more than happy to introduce you to him. He is respected authority on Italian wine, and we bet you could learn a thing or two from him!)
Kobrand loves Houston, and has supported, is supporting, and will support the city. We are glad your mail was delivered, and glad your wine bars were open. And we bet the zoo was amazing, and hope your children enjoyed the animals. As a show of appreciation for your mentioning our fine company on your blog, we are sending you via USPS a Kobrand goodie bag, which includes a few wine keys, some pens, and a copy of this month’s issue of Oprah magazine. Please enjoy with our compliments.
By the way, would you please share the link below with your readers? Thank you.
Again, we appreciate your mention, and hope to see you soon.
Yours in wine,
Ethel – This is the Facebook response from your company. Give this person a raise! And read on to see my reply. I don’t know you but your response is so unpleasant is actually angered me. You need to take a breath before you represent your company in that way.
Jeremy – We apologize deeply for the insensitive tone in this email you received. This tone and communication does not at all reflect Kobrand’s standards; we as a company have the utmost concern for Houston and its people. Due to the nature of the event, we had to revise the location and logistics before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston, in anticipation of the safety of our traveling suppliers as well as our local guests including yourself. We were relieved to read in your article that parts of the city recovered very quickly and we deeply regret any negative effects of the relocation. We extend a heartfelt apology for the unacceptable email communication around this change.
My response to the above Facebook post:
This response is extremely different in tone than the one left at a similar time directly on the blog by Ethel DeRoose. I am not in the wine industry and have no dog in this fight but her comment on the DoBianchi blog post was so snarky and condescending that I felt compelled to respond here. As a business person I would hold that up as a lesson as to how NOT to respond to negative press. It put such a bad taste in my mouth reading her response that I can assure you that as long as she is the type of person representing your company I will not be a fan. The comment above is what I would expect and would have redeemed you in my eyes had Ethel stayed out of it.
Thanks, Misti. I really appreciate the solidarity.
For the record,
I have no knowledge of who this Ethel DeRoose (or ruse) is, but from the surface it seems like a fake moniker. During a day in our country (Sept 11) when we should have other, more grave matters in our hearts and minds, to engage in this kind of banter is immature and ill-timed. As well, when our sister city, Houston, is struggling to reclaim their land and their lives, again, it is never the right time or place for this kind of discussion. I do not endorse this (fake) comment nor do I have any connection to whomever did this. And while Mr. Parzen and I are not the friends we once were, I am repulsed by this kind of commentary on his blog ( or anywhere else) on Sept 11 or any of the other 364 days of the year, in a city (Houston) that has been hit hard and where many of our friends, families and colleagues are in need of understanding, not further discord.
The above comment, signed Ethel DeRoose, is from a troll. The email address she/he used to leave the comment is fake and the IP address is located in Germany, information that leads me to speculate that the vile, spineless coward behind this is masking her/his IP. All comments are welcome on my blog, even from despicable, small-brained anonymous commenters like this one. I have a policy of never deleting comments and so, in keeping with the spirit of openness here, I’ll let it stand. But I can’t imagine that it’s not a troll. (In another forum, an anonymous representative for Kobrand wrote that she/he doesn’t know of anyone by this name working for the company and she/he disavowed the comment.)