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Ray's: The Steaks at East River

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One thing I hate about the press is that they do not listen to what you say, but rather twist your words to fit what they have already decided to say.

Or they lack the intelligence, talent and imagination to grasp an idea that has not already been delivered to them pre-digested by a publicist, but rather can only recognize stereotypes based on pre-defined, limiting and safe categories.

Or they distort truths to feed controversies that may or may not exist and feed the need to sensationalize (as in the case of Jane Black, who after spending 6 or more hours shadowing me throughout my workday with complete and total access, and another 10 hours in direct interviews for a "personal profile", somehow drew the insulting conclusion that not much of my work "paints me as a pillar of the community" despite knowing what I do for Walter Reed and other endeavors, as well as claiming that I am "more famous for throwing diners out than welcoming them in" when in fact no one besides GAR does more to make their restaurants welcoming to more people and a broader range of races and classes than I do).

So as much as I appreciate the recent press, and as much as I have reached the point where it is best to just let my work speak for itself, I do need to address some lazy, but dangerous, misconceptions before they become accepted common wisdom.

Ray's: The Steaks at East River is NOT an upscale steakhouse which is somehow controversial and ignores the needs of the community while flaunting an unaffordable, out-of-touch and out-of-reach establishment in the face of a community that isn't "advanced" enough to have a need for a quality establishment, even if jobs and basic social safety nets are significant concerns.

The inherent condescension of that lazy, ignorant assumption and the underlying assertion that a certain community is undeserving of quality and respect frankly sickens me--is there really a class of people that doesn't deserve cloth napkins? For whom cloth napkins are too good?" And the inherent insult in the choice of the descriptor "eccentric", rather than, say, "committed" or "passionate" or "far-sighted" offends not just me, but reveals an underlying prejudice concerning that community that is shameful in this day and age.

The menu and food at Ray's: The Steaks at East River will be left for people and the press to discover for themselves and will not be further discussed by me, except to say that except one or two items, NO full entree selection (including steaks) including a choice of three sides will cost more than $18 (any one of which will provide a full additional meal the next day, or serve two people at one sitting and STILL have leftovers), with many in the $11-$15 range. In addition, we will have a selection of sandwiches and burgers under $10 which will include choice of 2 out of either fries, sweet potato fries, salad or coleslaw and which I GUARANTEE will feed two healthily and well, or provide a full second meal the next day.

In addition, we will offer a children's menu starting at $3.95 which will start with a salad, include a freshly prepared entree with two vegetables, fresh fruit for dessert and either a glass of milk or juice.

All of this while serving unique specialties the likes of which and the quality of which are not to be found anywhere else in this city or elsewhere, for that matter--not just scaled-down versions of what we already do.

Further and finally, the core purpose of Ray's: The Steaks at East River IS jobs, with every cent of revenue being pledged to job creation and training, and tutoring, mentoring and meals programs for children within the community, and with a further pledge from me that not a single cent earned WILL EVER LEAVE THE COMMUNITY.

With your permission, Don, I will refer any and all future press inquiries to this post and hopefully let this stand as my statement of record, even if my intention in starting this thread was not to open the topic to discussion of the culinary aspects of Ray's: The Steaks at East River.

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