Toledo Talk

Spaghetti Warehouse

Anybody heard why the Spaghetti Warehouse closed down? I heard the home office said it was plumbing.

created by tgarvin on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:46:54 pm     Food     Comments: 50

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The blade article said that it was a "voluntary" closing according to the health department. The story is that they wanted to correct some plumbing problems. Not surprising, having eaten there and used the facilities. They hope to be back open asap.

Too bad it wasn't to gut the food operation and create a new menu.

posted by justread on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:14:34 pm     #  

The article and some comments

http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2012/09/21/Spaghetti-Warehouse-briefly-closes-for-fixes.html

posted by justread on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:16:58 pm     #  

Yup, just a quick fix to be taken care of. And justread, I agree with you... it's basically a full-service Fazolis. But hey, they're always packed, so they're obviously hitting a need in the market.

posted by Johio83 on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:19:34 pm     #  

The comments in that section are a pretty good illustration of the lack of critical thinking in the world today. One person makes a comment that is 100% speculative, and it gets propagated by people building on it and adding to it, until it becomes generally accepted as the truth. This is exactly the kind of thing that will get repeated a year from now as "did they have that rat problem?"

posted by Johio83 on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:22:28 pm     #  

Full service Fazolis. LOL

I appreciate the commitment to the warehouse district and all that, but by 1989, I was over the sourdough bread (the best thing there) and I had realized what the food was.

posted by justread on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:23:35 pm     #  

I don't think it was a plumbing problem. My wife met several co-workers there last night and found four or five pest control vans parked in the lot and the place was shut down with a sign claiming plumbing issues. Waterbugs maybe?

posted by max on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:37:36 pm     #  

That place has had soooooooo many issues from nearly day one. Some of the early reports included bugs in the salads delivered to the table.

We ate there once many years ago - and have never returned - and never will.

posted by Foodie on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:41:15 pm     #  

I have eaten at other Spaghetti Warehouse's, and they are so much better than the one here. It's alarming

posted by waughkev on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:51:08 pm     #  

We went there on a Friday night recently, and I was extremely disappointed in the service. (Which surprised me, because I go for weekday lunches from time to time and have never had a service complaint.)

It took an hour from the time we were seated until our food arrived. I could perhaps understand an hour wait for food at a restaurant where the entrees were being prepared from scratch, but at a place like Spaghetti Warehouse? The pasta dishes shouldn't take that long!

Adding to my dismay was the fact that the waitress didn't even think to bring us beverage refills while waiting an hour for our entrees. I had to flag her down and ask for them.

When I asked for the beverage refills, I also asked for additional bread and butter. She brought the drink refills and bread, but no butter. It took 10 minutes for her to bring the butter back after she had delivered the bread.

It was just bizarre. I'm pretty reasonable and laid-back when it comes to restaurant dining...it's extremely unusual for me to have service complaints, even when minor things do go wrong.

It takes a lot for me to say that service was atrocious, but that was exactly the case that night.

posted by mom2 on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:51:56 pm     #  

SW is EL COCKAROACHA restaurant of Toledo. How in thee hell that place, of all the decent restaurant that have come and gone, still survives.....is beyond me.

posted by BulldogBuckeye on Sep 21, 2012 at 01:59:07 pm     #   2 people liked this

^^That's what I've always thought/heard. No thank you very much!

posted by Foodie on Sep 21, 2012 at 02:25:46 pm     #   1 person liked this

I haven't been to the Spaghetti Warehouse in years, but it seems to remain popular with others. <shrug>

My bigger question, having never run a restaurant, is this: what is so damn difficult in keeping the place clean? I'm not a clean freak by any means, but the more I get to reading the health inspections (which are notoriously nit-picky--thankfully) and threads like this, it just blows my mind that using a mop and bucket, along with some degreaser and using proper food storage techniques to keep pests away is such a challenge. Along with inspecting food for bugs, mold, etc....and then NOT using it (oh the joy of being served a green-n-brown "salad"--yeeech).

I can understand a "mom-n-pop" sort of diner place being a little shady as they try to keep up with everything, but in a place like SW that has dozens of employees in the building every day...and many of whom are not overloaded with responsibilities....does the manager not have the balls to tell people "if you're not serving customers, start cleaning fridges/floors/behind appliances/chairs & tables/etc.?"

Is this unrealistic?

posted by oldhometown on Sep 21, 2012 at 02:38:51 pm     #  

it's laziness

posted by upso on Sep 21, 2012 at 04:28:37 pm     #  

Is this unrealistic?

It depends. One man's laziness is another man's hard day's work.

Restaurant staff are not overpaid. If you wait tables your take home pay depends on the largesse of your customers. So, if you aren't serving you are not making money. Now imagine you've been running yourself ragged for four hours and the tips are starting to look good tonight. You've got another two hours to go, and instead of giving you a table full of paying customers the manager tells you to go clean the ladies room - while some other waitress gets a table of four; two businessmen and their 'secretaries'. As a result, the ladies room is not going to get cleaned.

If you're a bus boy or a dish washer, you work your tail off and just when you think you might sit down a minute, there's the slave driver telling you the (whatever) needs cleaning. Again. You're tired, you're in a dead end job and you're not going to get a raise for working extra hard. So you don't clean the way the slave driver would like you to. What's he going to do, fire you? If he does, you can get another dead end job down the street. But if he doesn't, if he just keeps on carping about your work ethic and how this is not up to standard, you may begin to think about shutting that fat, greasy mouth of his once and for all. You try working extra hard, and he carps about it. You try to keep up, but it isn't good enough. On and on, he won't shut his fucking mouth!

So... Red Lobster homicide. I gather that when the cops tried to interview the staff, all they got was a lot of laughter and promises not to tell even if they knew who did it. Likely a chef's knife was used and run through the washer five or six times.

One place where I used to eat lunch all the time in Jax, FL was Bobby's Lunchbox. The owner was on site and by the time he was finished cleaning the place every day it was 3:00 AM. He did this every single day except Sunday, when the place got a thorough cleaning. But then, he was the owner.

posted by madjack on Sep 21, 2012 at 05:10:25 pm     #  

I waited tables all through college, and we weren't supposed to start doing our sidework until we had been phased.

Which makes sense...if we had been in the back scrubbing something we wouldn't have seen if our tables needed drink refills, ashtrays emptied (which was needed back in the day), etc.

As madjack said, gotta earn the tips. :)

The worst sidework to draw where I worked was salad cooler duty...nothing like getting paid $2.52/hour to clean up slopped salad dressing, etc.

I always did the best job I could on the salad cooler, because that's the kind of person I am. (And my roommate was a manager - didn't want to screw her over.) :) But a lot of my co-workers just rushed through it, and I guess it's a little understandable.

posted by mom2 on Sep 21, 2012 at 09:13:44 pm     #  

I'd place my bet on cockroaches. I worked in an old downtown building (financial institution - not food service) that had an admitted serious problem with cockroaches in the restroom area. When you turned on the light they could be seen running. The bank made every effort to get rid of them and as long as I was there they were not successful. The smell of a heavy infestation is unmistakable. Once you smell that odor you dont easily forget it. I smelled that same smell every time I went downstairs to use the restroom at SW.

posted by holland on Sep 21, 2012 at 09:33:06 pm     #  

madjack posted at 05:10:25 PM on Sep 21, 2012:

Is this unrealistic?

It depends. One man's laziness is another man's hard day's work.

Restaurant staff are not overpaid. If you wait tables your take home pay depends on the largesse of your customers. So, if you aren't serving you are not making money. Now imagine you've been running yourself ragged for four hours and the tips are starting to look good tonight. You've got another two hours to go, and instead of giving you a table full of paying customers the manager tells you to go clean the ladies room - while some other waitress gets a table of four; two businessmen and their 'secretaries'. As a result, the ladies room is not going to get cleaned.

If you're a bus boy or a dish washer, you work your tail off and just when you think you might sit down a minute, there's the slave driver telling you the (whatever) needs cleaning. Again. You're tired, you're in a dead end job and you're not going to get a raise for working extra hard. So you don't clean the way the slave driver would like you to. What's he going to do, fire you? If he does, you can get another dead end job down the street. But if he doesn't, if he just keeps on carping about your work ethic and how this is not up to standard, you may begin to think about shutting that fat, greasy mouth of his once and for all. You try working extra hard, and he carps about it. You try to keep up, but it isn't good enough. On and on, he won't shut his fucking mouth!

So... Red Lobster homicide. I gather that when the cops tried to interview the staff, all they got was a lot of laughter and promises not to tell even if they knew who did it. Likely a chef's knife was used and run through the washer five or six times.

One place where I used to eat lunch all the time in Jax, FL was Bobby's Lunchbox. The owner was on site and by the time he was finished cleaning the place every day it was 3:00 AM. He did this every single day except Sunday, when the place got a thorough cleaning. But then, he was the owner.

I wouldn't have trusted a 1979 Hobart with the knife. I don't care how many times you ran it through.

posted by justread on Sep 22, 2012 at 07:22:53 am     #  

A few thoughts; I am not publicly disclosing my prior connections, but I have substantial knowledge of the establishment in question:

1. There really are no "voluntary" closings of restaurants. If conditions are such that a closing is warranted, be aware that the health department likely pressured the place to close. My suspicion is that this was a face-saving gesture, and the company's "voluntary" closing is little more than corporate spin. Sure, they could have stayed open, but if the problems are as bad as the article implies, the health department would have just ordered the place to close until it was brought up to standards.

2. There indeed have been long-standing plumbing problems in that old building. You do not want to be near any toilets when there is a heavy rain, as water will violently shoot out of some of the fixtures due to some strange problem with the nearby sanitary lines. That has been going on for many, many years, and no one ever seemed to be able to provide a solution to fix it.

3. The chain has gone through a variety of corporate owners the last 20 years. This means that every time a new owner takes over, the corporate memory gets a reboot, and unit-level managers have to start all over in convincing upper management to address maintenance problems. Also, when a sale is imminent, the seller is not motivated to spend a nickel more than necessary, and certainly not on expensive R&M projects. The last two owners seem to have been of the "unlock asset value" investment mentalité (i.e., primarily seeking to cut costs as the method of improving profits as opposed to an emphasis on building sales).

4. Pests have been an ongoing problem at SWH for decades. This is a very old building with thousands of cracks, holes, and seams through which all sorts of vermin can enter and set up shop. Rodents and cockroaches have been a constant source of aggravation, and birds and flies regularly entered through one of the oft-broken windows on the second and third floor, thanks to local rock-throwing miscreants. Also, the restaurant itself takes up less than 40 percent of the total building, and the upper two floors plus part of the basement are only used to store old equipment and ancient relics from former inhabitants of the space. These unused and underused areas are like safe havens for pests when the exterminators arrive.

5. All this being said: I would eat there again, and I have seen food service establishments in worse shape. Perhaps this temporary closing will be a fresh start for the place.

posted by historymike on Sep 22, 2012 at 08:56:05 am     #   1 person liked this

When I dine there, I do everything I can to avoid going down to the bathroom level. The smell is enough to make you sick, or at least lose your appetite. And it's been that way for decades.

posted by gamegrrl on Sep 22, 2012 at 10:31:36 am     #  

Yuck

posted by upso on Sep 22, 2012 at 10:44:17 am     #  

madjack & mom 2--thanks for the perspective.

The assumption is that people earning well below minimum wage won't clean up...or won't clean very well because of the "slave drivers." OK. But the whole busboy thing...someone who isn't out front (generally)...he's not going to clean or clean well? Sorry, that's a management problem. And I mean that from the perspective of getting even "busboy" to understand his job is important, which can't be accomplished by screaming at him.

I swear, a company like The Maids could make some money to "spic and span" restaurants on a regular basis. And they'd do it fast too...

posted by oldhometown on Sep 22, 2012 at 11:35:08 am     #  

My girl and I went downtown last night and it appeared open. They even had a sign up for all you can eat Pasta Wednesday.

posted by INeedCoffee on Sep 22, 2012 at 01:02:16 pm     #  

Oldhometown, from my perspective it's not so much that a minimum wage employee can't/won't clean good. It's that if you're a server, the bulk of your income comes from tips.

So, there are just some things that you can't or shouldn't be doing during your shift, because you need to be earning tips taking care of customers.

BTW - I do know someone who makes a decent living operating a business that goes in and deep cleans restaurant kitchens. (The kind of deep cleaning you have to do when the restaurant is closed...degreasing the range hoods, etc.)

Server & busboy cleaning is more the general day-to-day tidying. Which is important, of course, and helps keep things from building up betwen deep cleanings.

posted by mom2 on Sep 22, 2012 at 02:57:31 pm     #  

Yuck, indeed! I'm sorry, but after all we know of that crap hole and the comments here, people would still go there to eat???!!!

Are you freaking kidding me??

Confirms what I've always thought about Toledoans and their dining priorities. Who give's a rat's rear end (literally) where the food came from, how it was prepared and under what conditions. As long as you get a bucketful for a nickel ninety-five..............

posted by Foodie on Sep 23, 2012 at 09:22:01 pm     #   2 people liked this

Foodie posted at 09:22:01 PM on Sep 23, 2012:

Yuck, indeed! I'm sorry, but after all we know of that crap hole and the comments here, people would still go there to eat???!!!

Are you freaking kidding me??

Confirms what I've always thought about Toledoans and their dining priorities. Who give's a rat's rear end (literally) where the food came from, how it was prepared and under what conditions. As long as you get a bucketful for a nickel ninety-five..............

I don't disagree, but see it as more of a lack of information than an informed choice. Plus, I think that out of towners rely on it as a known brand in a neighborhood without many familiar brands. Especially when finding a place to meet as a group. I think that places like this and Olive Garden are as much about branding as they are food. I'm convinced (but do not know) that some of the entrees are heated, rather than prepared on site. If this is true, maybe that makes it safer.

posted by justread on Sep 24, 2012 at 06:18:34 am     #  

@justread - I can't speak for SW but I did work as a server at Olive Garden for several years. All of their food was made from scratch in the restaurant every day, including the sauces and soups. It never ceased to amaze me how consistently busy the OG was - I would say one of the top 5 busiest restaurants in Toledo.

posted by idinspired on Sep 24, 2012 at 09:01:34 am     #  

Just for clarification: I said I would still eat there in a hypothetical sense, not that I particularly enjoy eating there. :-)

As for food prep: it has been some years since my affiliation with the above establishment, but I can vouch that almost everything is made on site. The sauces are cooked fresh daily, the pastas are prepared on site throughout the day, and even the meatballs and lasangna are still made by hand each day on site.

That is, unless things have changed in the past decade.

posted by historymike on Sep 24, 2012 at 09:14:33 am     #  

I'll stick my neck out here and ignore the general, snobby insult hurled at Toledo diners by Foodie. I actually enjoy the lasagna at SW. I hope they get their pest/plumbing problems under control. It would be nice to use the restroom facilities without that awful smell. I'll certain I'll be eating there again sometime in the near future.

posted by holland on Sep 24, 2012 at 09:52:25 am     #  

I don't mind places like SW and Olive Garden when I'm taking the whole family out to eat.

Do I think it's gourmet Italian cuisine? No. But generally the food isn't bad for the expectation that I have of the place.

Though I'm leery of going back to SW any time soon because of both this potential pest issue and the awful service we had last time I was there.

Are those the places I'd go if I were looking for a nice Italian dinner on a date night? No. But they serve a purpose on some nights.

BTW - speaking of date nights, my husband and I tried Rosie's Italian Grille for the first time recently. We were very pleased with the service, the food, and the ambiance.

I should also add that I think we've found a new family friendly place to go for pasta that's closer to home and locally owned - Charlie's. (On Sylvania Ave, near McCord. I believe the plaza is Saxon Square?)

With the discovery of Charlie's, it probably does make it much less likely that I'll be making any trips to SW or Olive Garden any time soon.

posted by mom2 on Sep 24, 2012 at 10:32:57 am     #  

Call it whatever you want Holland. Knowing what we know about SW and the fact that you apparently can't wait to go back to that establishment pretty much proves my point.

SW isn't the only known hole in town that people continue to flock to.

Speaking of "hurl" - that's always been a reaction I've tried to avoid whenever I find myself driving by the SW.

posted by Foodie on Sep 24, 2012 at 11:04:14 am     #  

There is one thing that does concern me about SW's probable pest problem. The bank where I worked that did have an admitted, serious infestation worked with reputable pest control companies diligently to eradicate the cockroaches. It was an old downtown building, partly used by the bank and partly vacant upper floors, much like what historymike has described conditions at SW. No matter the effort they never got rid of the roaches. This was in the late 90's. Perhaps they have better control strategies today than back then. Else, SW will just be on a pest control treadmill, running but never really catching up.

They may have to gut the area to get at the roaches, treat, then rebuild. That was the last option the bank was thinking of taking when I left.

Poor Foodie. How DOES he stand it here in Toledo, what with all the low brow diners - myself happily included?

posted by holland on Sep 24, 2012 at 11:37:57 am     #  

If "snobby" is choosing not to eat at well known cockroach and rat turd places, I guess I fall into the snob category as well...

I like low brow. I like diner food. I like food trucks, taco stands, and eating big slices of horrible for you dessert that the folks at Toledo Country Club would consider piggish. I even accept that there is an actual standard for the amount of shit in processed meat (thank you "Fast Food Nation").

Given my low brow tastes, is it so much to ask....nee "snobbish"....that the places I choose to go use Mop-N-Glo once in a while and keep the Periplaneta Americana and the droppings of the Rattus norvegicus out of my linguine and salad?

posted by oldhometown on Sep 24, 2012 at 11:48:50 am     #  

I have not been to SW in a long time, but do remember the service was lousy. I was always a fan of the vegetable lasagna. There was a time when the basement bar would be packed with people waiting for a table, do not know if the bar is still in operation.

I like to watch the show "Bar Rescue" and the kitchens in some of these places are disgusting and make you realize how dirty some places can be.

My nephew owns a bar/restaurant in town and says he has actually learned things from this show to help with training the staff on cleanliness

posted by Hoops on Sep 24, 2012 at 12:00:32 pm     #  

OH, you've got it right. Each of us can choose what we like to eat and where we like to eat it even if "you get a bucketful for a nickel ninety-five..............". But it should be clean, ALWAYS clean. I will give SW a try again. Sometime. But now that I know that what I smelled was what I thought it was, and if I find that same smell again - I'm done.

And I honestly don't have much confidence in their getting the problem solved. I'd bet they aren't willing to spend the money and make the effort it takes to permanently address the problem.

posted by holland on Sep 24, 2012 at 12:02:15 pm     #  

holland, if I could offer a suggestion, try the lasagna at Charlie's some time and see what you think.

It's a small place - not fancy, but still nice enough. The owners seem very involved - I think they've been right out there hands on waiting on tables or helping every time I've been in.

They also have gluten free pasta and pizza options, for those who might have a sensitivity. Their pizza seems to have received good ratings in the voting at PizzaPalooza as well.

Menu & other info on the website:
http://www.charlies-pizza.com/

posted by mom2 on Sep 24, 2012 at 12:39:06 pm     #  

I'm surpised to hear that the recipes are completely from scratch in both joints.

Wow.

posted by justread on Sep 24, 2012 at 12:51:34 pm     #  

I haven't been to SW in quite a few years. The service got progressively worse. I did always love their lasagna. I remember back when i was a kid, it was a BIG treat to be taken there for dinner and if we were good, we'd get one of those giant suckers they used to sell at the front desk.

I don't really care for OG much at all, never really had. Stouffers makes a better fettuccine Alfredo.

posted by tm2 on Sep 24, 2012 at 02:45:39 pm     #  

I actually prefer to eat the TGIFridays on airport rd. Extremely clean, good food and the service is not very hard on the eyes!

posted by tgarvin on Sep 24, 2012 at 03:29:02 pm     #  

Thanks mom2

I've tried OG several times and never found an entree I thought was worth eating a second time. Not bad mind you, just not particularly good.

posted by holland on Sep 24, 2012 at 05:20:09 pm     #  

Holland: save your pity for someone who needs or desires it. I fall into neither category.

I eat at plenty of "low brow" (your words, not mine) joints thank you. But once I learn they have a quality or cleanliness problem, I don't return until and if they clean up their act. San Marcos would be a good example. Their 1st inspection was gross, the 2nd not much better.

I place my emphasis on quality and cleanliness as opposed to quantity.

posted by Foodie on Sep 24, 2012 at 06:08:05 pm     #  

I worked @ SW in its early years, at that time it was a well kept operation. I did not think the menu was exceptional, but the exterminators were on site regularly and as for cleaning, I never saw an operation use so much bleach. (ugh!) An awkward site for a food service operation that requires far more diligence than most buildings, but it can be done. For the sake of those who dine there, I hope it will.

posted by BleacherBum on Sep 24, 2012 at 06:38:42 pm     #  

Holland: save your pity for someone who needs or desires it. I fall into neither category.

Oh, I don't know Foodie. I think you're pretty deserving, take you all 'round. You're talented, intelligent and you work hard at it. You deserve a little pity now and then!

Right AC?

From OldHomeTown: I like low brow. I like diner food. I like food trucks, taco stands, and eating big slices of horrible for you dessert that the folks at Toledo Country Club would consider piggish.

That's just not true.

Those swells over at the Toledo Country Club have a firm belief in large portions and cheap prices. The only other belief involves not paying the help too much - you'll spoil them.

Mom2: Did you get some of that ice cream over at Charlie's? The food at Charlie's is okay, but that ice cream is pretty hard to pass up.

posted by madjack on Sep 24, 2012 at 09:44:23 pm     #  

The place smelled the first and last time I was there more than 10 years ago.

posted by 6th_Floor on Sep 28, 2012 at 03:59:46 am     #  

:: refs blow whistles and throw flags at madjack

Personal foul, attacking a poster who wasn't even in the thread, 15 yard penalty, automatic first down.

posted by anonymouscoward on Sep 28, 2012 at 09:24:53 am     #   3 people liked this

^^

Replacement refs <shrug>...they'll throw a flag for anything...

posted by oldhometown on Sep 28, 2012 at 10:16:54 am     #   2 people liked this

oldhometown posted at 10:16:54 AM on Sep 28, 2012:

^^

Replacement refs <shrug>...they'll throw a flag for anything...

I have spilled my early afternoon bourbon.

Ha!
Ha!Ha!
Ha!Ha!Ha!
What a howl!

Here's a hat tip and a hoist of a newly refilled bourbon glass.

posted by madjack on Sep 28, 2012 at 12:11:09 pm     #  

Blot the bourbon with some clean paper towels and squeeze it back into the glass. No sense of wasting good liquor.

posted by Foodie on Sep 28, 2012 at 02:58:28 pm     #   1 person liked this

My lovely bride has agreed to meet friends for dinner at SW in 2 weeks. I remember that smell last time I was there. Have they gotten things under control down there yet?

posted by marving on Apr 06, 2017 at 11:36:21 pm     #  

I eat there one to two times a month and haven't noticed a smell:) And try to go to Costco before you go, they have $100 gift cards for $80 for SW:)

posted by classylady on Apr 06, 2017 at 11:51:33 pm     #  

They carpeted over a drain in the basement. Drain traps need to have water in them to prevent sewer gas from coming up. Over time, the water in the trap evaporates. Because of the carpeting, no water is ever getting into the trap to seal it. Hence, it smells downstairs. I really wish they'd fix it, because the bar down there could be pretty cool.

posted by Johio83 on Apr 07, 2017 at 08:02:42 am     #