#KitaJagaKita: Singaporeans Are Helping Stranded Malaysians With a Place to Stay
By • in
You can define humanity in a lot of ways and as cases of Covid-19 continue to surge, a little bit of kindness is what we all need. Just check out the hashtag #KitaJagaKita on your social media platforms and you’ll be surprised with the amount of Malaysians that are going out of their way to help each other at times like this.
This sentiment has spread across the crossway to Singapore too! Netizens down in SG are opening their homes to Malaysian workers who are stranded without accommodation after the Restrictive Movement Order (RMO), last Wednesday.
According to The Star, in response to a report about 20 Malaysians spending the night outside Kranji MRT station, many Singaporeans offered to house the workers in their own homes or to provide them with food and blankets.
A generous citizen, Eriyani Bakeri, offered one of her family’s spare rooms for free. Although she was not well-off, the housewife said she was saddened by the plight of the Malaysian workers in the aftermath of RMO and was more than happy to cook more food for her guests.
Charity organisation – Homeless Hearts of Singapore is doing their part by linking up Singaporeans who have rooms to offer to the Malaysians.
Ummar Hasim, on the other hand, called on fellow Singaporeans – through the Couchsurfing SG Facebook page to open up their homes to the workers. The group, of which he is a member, lets Singaporeans host travellers during their stay there.
Another SG citizen, Levin Foo, ordered 40 sleeping bags, 40 blankets, as well as some hand sanitisers and masks to distribute to workers still searching for a place to stay. The self-employed 36-year-old said the items cost about S$700 (RM2,130) in all and were sponsored by a friend.
“They have to leave their families to come to Singapore to work. Some Singaporeans don’t understand this,” he said.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth – Grace Fu, urged members of the public to contact the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) if they knew of any Malaysians who needed temporary accommodation. Fu said various Singapore government agencies were helping house Malaysian workers at the Jurong East Sports Hall, which has been converted to a temporary relief centre.
The workers are given a ‘ready pack’, which includes items such as toiletries, towel, toilet paper and a sleeping bag. They can even shower and wash up before leaving for work in the morning.
At times like this, we need to think about the less fortunate but most importantly, we need to act too. Do as much as you can while moving as little as possible. Whether it’s donating money to a charity, helping your neighbours to get some groceries, or even tipping your food-delivery rider.. let’s help each other as much as we can!
During Lent, one should try to exercise abstinence from certain types of food and encourage oneself to pray more than usual, said His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine in his homily at the evening service on March 1, 2020, the Information and Education Department of the Ukranian Orthodox Church reports.
“The Lord gave us fasting not so that we kill ourselves with fasting, but for us to kill our passions. The sinful “oncology” that we have is destroyed by fasting. And if a person fasts in a correct way and does not go to extremes, then they begin to feel better … and receive benefits for their soul,” said the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The metropolitan recalled that each person should fast according to his or her state of health. During a fast, he noted, consistency and diligence are more important than a strict measure of abstinence.
“There are such extremes during Lent that, as they say, some day a person eats so much that he cannot breathe, and the other day he eats so little that he cannot breathe. Extremes shake both the spiritual and bodily forces of a man. Consistency here is even more important than a measure of abstinence. … Even a small measure of fasting, observed with consistency, is beneficial for the soul,” said His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry.
“May the Lord help us during Great Lent to work to the best of our abilities, to abstain from certain types of food, to force ourselves to pray more. We should not wait when we want to pray, but we should push ourselves to go to church more and participate in a public church prayer, to do good, and to humble ourselves before people. It will be a feat that cleanses a person of spiritual and bodily defects and makes us worthy to see the light of the Resurrection of Christ,” concluded the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
February 2020 restaurant inspections in Livingston County
Jennifer Timar Livingston Daily
Published 6:30 AM EST Mar 3, 2020
Of the Livingston County restaurants inspected in February 2020, priority and priority foundation violations were found at 29 locations.
Each month, the Livingston County Health Department inspects some businesses and schools that serve food.
The Livingston Daily publishes reports on the most serious violations — ones that could lead to contamination of food or increase the risk of transmitting a foodborne illness — as well as corrective measures taken.
Four priority violations were found at:
Hartland Sports Center
2755 Arena Drive, Hartland Township
There were three spray bottles not labeled as to their contents. The person in charge labeled the bottles properly at the time of the inspection. There was no soap at the hand sink. Soap was available upon the inspector’s return. There were no paper towels at the hand sink. A new shelf was not allowing staff to open the dispenser and refill. Upon the inspector’s return, there was a dispenser available and paper towels were stocked in the dispenser. There was no chlorine test kit available. The facility decided to use quaternary sanitizer instead.
10100 W. Grand River Ave., Fowlerville
The dish machine was not dispensing the proper amount of sanitizer. It was suspected that the product was expired. A new container of sanitizer was added and proper sanitizer concentrations were restored. The hand sink in the main kitchen was soiled with food residue. Coleslaw and ranch dressing prepared on Feb. 3 were labeled with a discard date of Feb. 20. Foods that are time and temperature controlled for safety cannot be held more than seven days. A proper discard date label was attached at the time of the inspection. No detergent was being dispensed in the dish machine because the container was empty. A new detergent container was added at the time of the inspection.
RELATED: 15 most common restaurant violations in Livingston County
Three priority violations were found at:
440 W. Main Street, Brighton
A pan of cooked chicken wings was holding at 50 degrees in the grill line prep cooler. A container of coleslaw was holding at 46 degrees. Upon further investigation, other items were also holding in the 41-to-50 degree range. All refrigeration equipment was working properly. It was suspected that the food items were left out at room temperature during the prep process. Some of the items are transferred from the basement walk-in unit on rolling carts. Those items may have been sitting on the cart for an extended period of time at room temperature. A tall plastic container of grits was cooling in an ice bath. The product was placed into an ice bath approximately 20 minutes earlier and was still approximately 200 degrees. The grits were transferred to a large shallow metal pan for proper cooling. Short ribs prepared two days prior to the inspection were cooled in a deep pan. No temperature violations were confirmed, but this method will not likely ensure proper cooling. Two refillable spray bottles containing cleaning chemicals were not labeled. The bottles were labeled at the time of inspection.
An infographic shows proper temperatures food should be held at to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.
Livingston County Health Department
Great Lakes Family Restaurant
963 S. Grand Ave., Fowlerville
Home-prepared foods were being stored in the walk-in cooler. The items included several 5-gallon buckets of cut tomatoes in a vinegar solution, which were prepared by a family member. The items were removed at the time of inspection. A pie cooler was holding food at 50 degrees. Cream pies and cheesecake were discarded. The pie cooler has been taken out of service and a new unit was ordered. Cream pies are now stored in another unit. A refillable spray bottle containing a chemical degreasing solution did not have a label. Proper chemical labeling was observed upon the inspector’s return.
1504 Lawson Drive, Howell
An employee touched the computer ordering screen while wearing food handling gloves. They returned to prep food without changing the glove. Several employees did not wash their hands before wearing new food handling gloves. Both hand sinks were blocked by equipment. One hand sink was being used to store a water pitcher for the bread-making equipment. The other hand sink contained a sanitizer bottle. The items were removed at the time of the inspection.
8515 W. Grand River Ave., Brighton
There were multiple employees improperly washing their hands. One employee washed their hands less than the required time and proceeded to use their pants to dry their hands. Another employee washed their hands less than the required time and did not dry their hands. Multiple employees changed soiled gloves but did not wash their hands properly as there were no paper towels to be found at any of the hand sinks in the kitchen. There was shredded lettuce on the line without time stamps. There were no paper towels at either hand sink in the kitchen. An employee was sent to the store during the inspection.
5589 E. M-36, Pinckney
There was rice in the steam table that had been placed there about an hour and 45 minutes prior. It was at 120 degrees. The steam table should not be used to reheat foods because it takes too long. It was reheated properly to over 165 degrees in the microwave oven and placed back into the steam table. The chlorine sanitizer concentration in the dish machine was too high. It was adjusted. Foods were being improperly cooled in the walk-in cooler. Mashed potatoes and rice were in containers 6-to-8 inches deep with the plastic wrap slightly uncovered on the edge. The rice was already cold, but the potatoes had been placed there an hour and half before and were at 100 degrees. They were moved to uncovered shallow pans. Sausage patties were being cooled in a covered shallow pan and were at 67 degrees. The cover was removed so that the heat was not trapped in.
Old Hickory Bar
7071 Bennett Lake Road, Fenton
The cooler next to the fryer was holding food at 49 degrees. Deli meat, sliced tomatoes, burger patties and dressing were discarded. Upon the inspector’s return, there were no items in the cooler at time of inspection, but the ambient air read a proper 40 degrees. The in-use knives and utensils were being switched out every shift, which is typically eight hours. The in-use utensils that are in contact with food that is time and temperature controlled for safety need to be washed, rinsed and sanitized at least every four hours. Raw beef was stored in the walk-in cooler above bottled drinks. It was moved away from ready-to-eat food.
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Two priority violations were found at:
Jersey Giant Subs
3813 Tractor Drive, Howell
Tomatoes and lettuce had been put out at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, but were not marked to indicate the time they were removed from the cooler and the time they must be discarded (4 hours later). They were marked during the inspection. The hand sink in the dish-washing area was blocked by buckets and a cart. They were moved.
120 W. Highland Road, Suite 800, Howell
A couple a bottles of cleaner were stored on the prep table near food. They were moved to the chemical storage room. Always store chemicals away from food and clean equipment. There were a couple spray bottles of sanitizer missing labels. They were labeled during the inspection.
Mary’s Fabulous Chicken & Fish
2429 E. Grand River Ave., Howell
A cook came into work, took an order, put food handling gloves on and made the food without washing his hands first. He washes his hands. Several onions in a bin in the walk-in cooler had white mold growth. All of the onions were discarded.
Snappers on the Water
6484 Bennett Lake Road, Fenton
There was a container of moldy food dated from December. It was discarded. There were some cans that were leaky and rusted. They were set aside to be returned.
St. John Catholic Church
2099 Hacker Road, Howell
The two-door cooler in the kitchen is holding food at 60 to 65 degrees. Sour cream, yogurt, milk and sauerkraut with sausage were discarded. There was a large pot of tomato sauce that was improperly cooled in a large container in the cooler. The cooler was broken. The sauce was at the same temperature as everything else (60 to 65 degrees). It was discarded.
Tubby’s Sub Shop
9912 E. Grand River Ave., Ste 500, Brighton
A food handler used gloves that touched raw meat to begin to assemble ready-to-eat sandwich ingredients. She was stopped and told that she must wash her hands and put a new pair of gloves on before touching ready-to eat food. She washed her hands and donned a new pair of gloves. The solution used to wipe down the cutting board contained too much chlorine. Water was added.
One priority violation was found at:
3949 W. Grand River Ave., Howell
A dicer in the cleaned dish area contained food particles. It was cleaned.
Brighton Coffeehouse and Theater
306 W. Main Street, Brighton
The automatic dish machine was calibrated for chlorine sanitizer, but the unit contained quaternary sanitizer. It resulted in sanitizer concentrations that were too weak. The quaternary sanitizer was removed and replaced with proper chlorine sanitizer. Proper sanitizer levels were restored.
Buffalo Wild Wings
9745 Village Place Blvd., Brighton
Foods in a prep cooler were holding 50 degrees in the upper compartment and 45 degrees in the lower compartment. Large metal containers of ranch and blue cheese dressings were holding at 50 degrees. The products were stored on ice, but the amount of ice was not adequate. Ranch and blue cheese dressings, cut tomatoes, cut lettuce, salsa and dairy products were discarded. Upon the inspector’s return, the cooler was repaired and a larger, taller ice bath was being used to hold dressings.
Community Congregational U.C.C.
125 E. Unadilla Street, Pinckney
The dish machine was out of chlorine sanitizer. The container was tipped to the side to make sure that the machine was pulling the sanitizer, which it was. The bleach will be replaced before the next event.
10495 Hartland Square Road, Hartland Township
The dish machine was getting stuck in a cycle where it did not activate the hot water sanitizing cycle. It was repaired.
2560 E. Grand River Ave., Howell
An open container of grilled cooked chicken and sausage had a use-by date that had passed. It was discarded.
750 W. Grand River Ave., Brighton
The facility uses both chlorine and quaternary sanitizers. However, only quaternary test strips were available. Chlorine test strips were purchased.
Mt. Brighton Resort
4141 Bauer Road, Brighton
No paper towels were available at the hand sink at Bruin’s Bar. Towels were provided at the time of inspection.
6995 W. Grand River Ave., Brighton
Hot dogs in a reach cooler were kept past their use-by date. They were discarded.
Stout Irish Pub
125 E. Grand River Ave., Brighton
Cooked cabbage, cooked pasta noodles and house-made pizza sauce were expired. The items were discarded.
Sunrise Family Diner
2375 E. Grand River Ave., Howell
A line cook cracked eggs, changed food handling gloves and put a new pair of gloves on before touching ready-to-eat food without washing their hands.
114 W. Grand River Ave., Brighton
A staff member touched dirty dishes while loading them into the dish machine. He began to put clean dishes away without washing his hands.
1022 S. Michigan Ave., Howell
An employee with painted fingernails was performing food-related tasks such as scooping fries without gloves on.
Whispering Pines Golf Club
2500 Whispering Pines Drive, Pinckney
The interior of the ice machine had some mold growth. During the golf season it is routinely cleaned, but the club had not been open for a while.
Wong Express House
9912 E. Grand River Ave., Brighton
A slicer had an accumulation of dried food on the back of the blade. It was taken apart to be cleaned. Grease accumulation was found in between and around equipment.
READ MORE LIVINGSTON COUNTY RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS:
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at 517-548-7148 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook @Jennifer.Timar99 and Twitter @JenTimar99.
People are gearing up to be obsessed with Batman all over again in preparation for Robert Pattinson’s new movie next year and Wonderland Restaurants have decided to cash in on this by opening up the world’s first Batman themed restaurant in London this spring.
Featured Image VIA
The frankly quite enormous complex will be located inside the Crown Estate’s Grade 2 listed building on Brewer Street in Piccadilly Circus and will feature five different themed restaurants and three different bars, including The Iceberg Lounge – a bar inspired by The Penguin that features cocktails, live entertainment and an international menu – a Harley Quinn inspired restaurant and an Old Gotham City speakeasy that will serve cocktails and sharing platters. Diners can expect to spend about £45 for a meal which isn’t too bad considering it’s in London and one of these hip new immersive experiences that everyone seems to be interested in.
Here’s what Wonderland Restaurants founder James Bulmer had to say about his new venture:
Trends in our sector are moving towards fun, immersive and experiential dining and our aim is to demonstrate this on a grand scale with exceptional food and drink to match.
I am still a child at heart, inspired by the greatest stories and storytellers.
For me, great food experiences are about unlocking guests’ emotions and creating edible memories.
I mean that isn’t really telling us much about the Batman restaurant but I suppose it gives us some idea of his mentality or whatever. Probably gonna have to wait to hear some reviews/see some actual pictures before I decide whether or not I want to check it out. Could see some losers getting addicted to it though because there’s gonna be so many different places to visit there, it would take you like a whole week of going every day to do it properly. That’s a lot of time you could be spending there.
For more of the same, check out Robert Pattinson’s new Batman costume. Looks awesome.
Bundobust has shared a glimpse at its second Manchester restaurant, with the popular Indian street food experts set to take over a space in the St James building.
‘The Cartway’ within the Grade II-listed building on Oxford Street will also be home to the very first Bundobust brewery.
The space was previously an indoor car park, but will soon house a 150-cover restaurant as well as huge brewing tanks for Bundobust’s foray into craft brewing.
In keeping with their first Manchester location, the new restaurant will be topped by a glass ceiling, as well as enhancing the engineering features left behind from the room’s original use as a road for horse-drawn carts.
Expected to open in May, Bundobust’s new site will be a ‘south of the city Indian street food palace’, serving up their signature vibrant vegetarian menu.
Since opening in Leeds in 2014, Bundobust has earned glowing reviews from both national and local critics – including the M.E.N.
It joins Ditto Coffee and Robert & Victor as the latest independent operator in the remarkable St James Building, which neighbours the Palace Theatre.
The brewery launch – including the head brewer reveal and core list of beers – will be teased over the coming months through collaborations with high-profile international breweries.
Bundobust recently opened its third site on Bold Street in Liverpool.
Marko Husak, Bundobust co-founder, said: “The Cartway is an amazing space, and it’s the most ambitious and exciting project for Bundobust so far.
“It has so many amazing original features which we’ve retained and restored to incorporate into the new design.
The latest food and drink news from the M.E.N.
“The similarities to our current Manchester site (the beautiful glazed white brick, and a skylight/atrium) make it feel like it’s a natural sibling – and there will be similar design cues – but this site will have its own unique look and vibe.
“Based on locals’ response to us in the past three years, we feel that Manchester is big enough to warrant two Bundobust sites, and Oxford Street is the perfect place, as a busy link between the student area and the city centre.
“There are plenty of amazing indies already (Gorilla, The Refuge, Leaf, Deaf Institute, Yes), as well as offices, theatres, and hotels in the area.
“We’re excited to be bringing something new to the mix which complements the existing offering, and for this venue to be the birthplace of Bundobust’s brewery.”
Andrea George, director of retail and leisure at Bruntwood, which owns the building, said: “We’re over the moon to be working with Bundobust on this transformation, which will add to the vibrancy of Oxford Road and further enrich the offering at this exciting and constantly evolving quarter of the city.
“We’ve been looking for the right operator for this fantastic space for some time. The character and original features of this building have incredible potential, which we know in Bundobust’s creative hands will be turned into an amazing concept.
“Bundobust’s innovation and imagination will ensure that the transformation is truly magnificent – theirs is a brand that is made for this extraordinary setting.”
Bundobust’s new restaurant in the St James Building on Oxford Road is due to open this May.
China’s National Health Commission said Friday afternoon (NZ time) the confirmed cases of the new coronavirus had risen to 830 with 25 deaths.
The first death was also confirmed outside the central province of Hubei, where the capital, Wuhan, has been the epicentre of the outbreak.
The health commission in Hebei, a northern province bordering Beijing, said an 80-year-old man died after returning from a two-month stay in Wuhan to see relatives.
The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or people with connections the city. Other cases have been confirmed in the United States, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand. Singapore and Vietnam reported their first cases Thursday, and cases have also been confirmed in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.
Many countries are screening travellers from China for symptoms of the virus, which can cause fever, coughing, breathing difficulties and pneumonia.
The World Health Organisation has decided against declaring the outbreak a global emergency, a step that can bring more money and resources to fight a threat but that can also cause trade and travel restrictions and other economic damage, making the decision a politically fraught one.
The decision “should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious or that we’re not taking it seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”
The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that originate in animals before making the jump to humans.
Chinese authorities moved to lock down at least three cities with a combined population of more than 18 million in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds of people and spread to other parts of the world during the busy Lunar New Year travel period.
Chinese officials have not said how long the shutdowns of the cities will last. While sweeping measures are typical of China’s Communist Party-led government, large-scale quarantines are rare around the world, even in deadly epidemics, because of concerns about infringing on people’s liberties. And the effectiveness of such measures is unclear.
“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science,” said Gauden Galea, the WHO”s representative in China. “It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work.”
People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan
Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology at molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the lockdowns appear to be justified scientifically.
“Until there’s a better understanding of what the situation is, I think it’s not an unreasonable thing to do,” he said. “Anything that limits people’s travels during an outbreak would obviously work.”
But Ball cautioned that any such quarantine should be strictly time-limited. He added: “You have to make sure you communicate effectively about why this is being done. Otherwise you will lose the goodwill of the people.”
A resident wears a mask to buy vegetables in the market in Wuhan.
During the devastating West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, Sierra Leone imposed a national three-day quarantine as health workers went door to door, searching for hidden cases. Burial teams collecting corpses and people taking the sick to Ebola centres were the only ones allowed to move freely. Frustrated residents complained of food shortages.
In China, the illnesses from the newly identified coronavirus first appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub. Local authorities demanded all residents wear masks in public places and urged civil servants wear them at work.
After the city was closed off Thursday, images showed long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets, as people stocked up. Trucks carrying supplies into the city are not being restricted, although many Chinese recall shortages in the years before the country’s recent economic boom.
Analysts predicted cases will continue to multiply, although the jump in numbers is also attributable in part to increased monitoring.
KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES
A Chinese passenger that just arrived on the last bullet train from Wuhan to Beijing is checked for a fever by a health worker at a Beijing railway station.
“Even if (cases) are in the thousands, this would not surprise us,” the WHO’s Galea said, adding, however, that the number of infected is not an indicator of the outbreak’s severity so long as the death rate remains low.
The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as the SARS outbreak that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which is thought to have originated from camels.
China is keen to avoid repeating mistakes with its handling of SARS. For months, even after the illness had spread around the world, China parked patients in hotels and drove them around in ambulances to conceal the true number of cases and avoid WHO experts. This time, China has been credited with sharing information rapidly, and President Xi Jinping has emphasised that as a priority.
Health authorities are taking extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, placing those believed infected in plastic tubes and wheeled boxes, with air passed through filters.
The first cases in the Wuhan outbreak were connected to people who worked at or visited a seafood market, now closed for an investigation. Experts suspect that the virus was first transmitted from wild animals but that it may also be mutating. Mutations can make it deadlier or more contagious.
Fort Myers restaurant reviews: The most interesting restaurant in Estero? Marlins Brewhouse
Jean Le Boeuf
Published 11:00 AM EST Jan 16, 2020
The bowl of ramen came on the same tray as my IPA.
Painted in a dainty teal print, the bowl cradled a trove of add-ins, from the traditional (wavy wheat noodles, herbs, soft-boiled eggs, glistening hunks of chashu pork belly) to the wholly untraditional (braised collard greens, fat chicken wings).
A French press, the kind used for morning coffee, sat next to the dish, filled with a murky, mahogany-hued broth. Our server pushed the plunger, pressing the aromatic bits of onion and garlic to the bottom, clear of the spout. He poured the broth into my bowl, set my IPA at its side, then went back to his beer-toting duties, leaving me slack-jawed and frozen in awe.
What the how?!
The French Pressed Ramen ($14) is a shockingly delicious stunner from Marlins Brewhouse in Estero. This fusion take is loaded with braised collards, noodles, soft-boiled eggs, chashu and four chewy-crisp chicken wings. It’s finished with a murky, rich broth that’s pressed and poured table-side. It’s possibly the last thing you’d expect from a taproom.
Special to The News-Press
I’d been to Marlins Brewhouse before. The original one in south Fort Myers and this new, 2-month-old one in Estero’s University Village south of FGCU. I’d eaten at the adjoining Caliburger. I’d snacked on massive, salt-strewn pretzels with pints of Palm City San Carlos Proper, watching the cars go by on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway.
But a fusion take on ramen, served table-side, that looked as stunningly good as this one?
I repeat: What the how?!
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It wasn’t just a pretty bowl of soup. It was a masterful one: the noodles lithe and springy, the sunny egg and soulful broth, the complex spice of the collards, the chashu pork with its tantalizingly wobbly chew.
Two bites in, I grabbed the Marlins menu and pored over it with forensic precision. Dishes I’d overlooked before jumped out now, one after the next: a cauliflower Caesar salad with tapenade and Parmesan crisps; a hot pot loaded with diver scallops, Gulf shrimp and Antarctic salmon in buttered dashi; thick-cut, fried-to-order potato chips dusted in house barbecue seasoning.
Marlins’ Wild Fried Shrimp Platter ($17) includes fried Gulf shrimp and pickles, a loaded twice-baked potato, braised collards and a duet of dipping sauces.
Special to The News-Press
I’d been going about this taproom all wrong. Marlins Brewhouse might be the most interesting new restaurant in Estero.
And all the credit goes to executive chef Noel Willhite (with a nod to Marlins’ owners Tim Frederic and Jeff Burns, who had the smarts to hire him).
Willhite got his start locally as the garde manger at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point. His resume includes stints at the former Spago in Chicago and Las Vegas’s Tao — which explains his love for ramen and hot pot, and his knack for the tomato sauces that underlie some of Marlins other great dishes.
Like its bistro steak frites.
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Willhite takes a 10-ounce hangar steak, sears it till juicy, then teams it with charred cauliflower florets and thinly shaved pommes frites atop a tomato-cream sauce deepened by a touch of sherry. It is steak frites as I’ve never known steak frites. And yet, I loved it. Almost as much as I loved Willhite’s blue-cheese laced Buffalo chicken dip, his pimiento-cheese pretzel bones, his behemoth tray of beer-battered Gulf shrimp and pickles.
The bistro steak frites ($22) from Marlins includes a 10-ounce hangar steak, charred florets of cauliflower, and thinly shaved pommes frites atop a sherry-tomato cream sauce.
Special to The News-Press
This Deep South mashup was brilliant: the curls of shrimp, pink and briny-sweet; the pickles, tangy, bright, almost palate-cleansing. There were more collards, still spicy, still tender. Plus a twice-baked potato and two cups of house-crafted dipping sauces. It was an actual smorgasbord. All for $17.
The true genius of Willhite’s Marlins work is its accessibility. It is, in essence, elevated beer food sold at beer-friendly prices. It’s food that tastes good with fruity daiquiris and honey-tinged hefeweizens. It’s food that begs to be shared.
It’s food that’s fun.
Even when the server spilled a quarter of my beer across the table, giggled, then walked off one night. Even when I was left waiting (and. waiting.) for the check another.
The fun of this menu overrides things like that. And really, how often do I get to call a place fun? Fancy restaurants are a dime a dozen, as are tasty dishes and classically trained chefs. But fun — as in taproom-french-pressed-chicken-wing-ramen fun — is rare.
Unless you’re at Marlins Brewhouse.
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MORE: I am proud to be Jean Le Boeuf (I just can’t tell you who I am)
Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.
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Marlins Brewhouse Estero
University Village, 19800 Village Center Drive No. 235, Estero
JLB’s stars AREN’T like Yelp stars, here’s why…
• Call: 239-790-6573
• Web: facebook.com/marlinsbrewuniversityvillage
• Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday to Tuesday, 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday
• Noise level: Conversationally loud to just plain loud
• Etc.: Full bar, outdoor seating, live music on weekends
Last November, thousands of Lagosians including hundreds of UBA Bank employees attended what was billed as the ‘party of the year’ at the Lekki Special Events Centre on Admiralty Way.
The UBA RedTV Rave had everyone from Wizkid to Olamide to Jidenna to Burna Boy thrilling the festive crowd as UBA chairman Tony Elumelu and CEO Kennedy Uzoka mingled with the artists and guests.
On the surface, this was the best of times, as a bank that was clearly in rude health celebrated a successful year with thousands of employees, friends and family. The bank had also recently concluded a recruitment exercise that would add nearly 4,000 new employees to its staff strength, so the year ahead looked to be a promising one for most employees present.
Unknown to them, while senior executives danced with Wizkid in the VIP area, one of the most brutal staff layoffs in Nigerian banking history was just around the corner. They partied well into the night and then showed up for work the following week as usual. A week went by. Two weeks. Four weeks. Then right at the start of the new year – a shocker.
Closed at 5.30PM, Terminated at 10.30PM
Ifunanya (name has been changed) was asked to wait behind at work on Friday January 3. As a 12-year UBA veteran including a long stint in her role as a Branch Operations Manager at a branch in Ojodu, Lagos, this was not an unusual request to receive. She was even used to working weekends so that the ATMs could remain functional and she could troubleshoot other onsite customer-facing issues. This time however, was different.
Along with other staff members at the branch, she was asked to wait for a board meeting. By 10.30PM, the assembled staff were informed that their services were no longer required. They were then told verbally to write out their resignation letters on the spot and leave voluntarily or be forced out. At this point, her security pass was taken, and along with the other affected staff, her profile was unceremoniously deactivated from the bank’s internal system. She was reminded to drop her work ID on the way out, and thus ended a 12-year association with the bank.
When a relative of hers reached out to tell the story, he was keen to make the point that she was not an agency employee, but a full UBA employee on a monthly salary of N153,000. He could not understand why the bank would treat her that way. I heard similar stories from two other sources who insisted that they were coerced into resigning after being told that their services were no longer required right at the start of the new year.
Shocking and callous as these stories may have sounded, one of the first things you are taught in any professional journalism program is to always balance the story. So I sought an alternate account of what transpired, with the goal of putting the picture together to tell a complete story. There were conflicting accounts of the events of January 3 flying around, with some accounts describing a recruitment and promotion exercise without mentioning any firings, while others reported a purported “restructuring” at UBA, which is a well-known euphemism for “mass sack.”
I managed to establish contact with a current senior employee at UBA who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorised to speak about such matters. This was his account of what happened at UBA bank at the start of this year:
“Usually when anyone joins UBA with a Bachelor’s degree, they are put on a GT1 level (N80,000). After one year, they are promoted to GT2 (N100,000), then after another year ET1 (N140,000) which is where a lot of people get stuck on. If you are lucky, you get to ET2 (N165,000). So what UBA did was to meld those 4 levels into one (ET) so any one who was on GT1 and GT2 gets automatically promoted to ET2. Those that were on ET1 and ET2 got promoted to SET (Senior Executive Trainee).
So it was a promotion of sorts, but honestly it was long overdue because compared to other banks, N80,000 for entry level staff is quite low. About the layoffs: I only know 4 people personally who got affected. The people affected were on manager grades and worked at the head office, they all reportedly got 6 months arrears.”
According to this source, he was not personally aware of the fate of any branch staff or what he termed ‘OND staff.’ He did however say that in his opinion, the bank handled the situation poorly and that Nigeria does need stronger labour laws to protect young graduates fresh out of school from exploitation for cheap labor at the hands of corporates like UBA. He also mentioned that he knows current UBA staff have not had a salary increase in ten years – a remarkable situation for workers in a country whose currency has declined 195 percent over the same period.
As it later emerged, more than 2,000 staff were affected by the shocking late-night cull at UBA. It also became increasingly clear that the firings had nothing to do with a harsh operating environment or decreased profitability. The bank which had brought together Nigeria’s most expensive music stars to perform at its end of year shindig was anything but struggling – it actually hired more people than if fired. What the sackings did though, was clear out a number of people in roles that the bank considered obsolete, particularly within branch operations.
It can definitely be argued that such restructuring is inevitable in the face of rapidly changing technology, which is hardly a terrible thing. What is also true however, is that the bank that paid huge sums of money to bring Burna Boy and Jidenna to an annual vanity event that adds nothing to its bottom line could also afford to retrain its redundant staff to fit into new roles – instead of just sacking them and instantly bringing in thousands of readymade replacements.
Yet again, the actions of a Nigerian corporate made the point that Nigerian labour law, in addition to be being poorly enforced is also woefully inadequate and unfit for purpose. If after 12 years of useful service to a bank, Ifunanya could be dumped out onto the street without even a few hours of notice – and no regulatory action was forthcoming – then clearly, Nigerian employees working for Nigerian companies have a problem on their hands.
As much as the UBA situation made that point, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to unearth about another Nigerian corporate behemoth.
Diarrhea in India, Death in Ibeju-Lekki: The Unbelievable Story of Dangote Refinery
While senior executives at UBA House were going over the finer points of their plan to log 2,000 employees out of their work systems and force them to resign on the spot, a different level of labour exploitation was entering its fourth year about 73KM east of the Marina. There, at the site of the Dangote Refinery at the Free Trade Zone in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, the refinery was taking delivery of the world’s largest crude oil refining tower.
While this was predictably being celebrated across local and foreign media as the start of a glorious new chapter in Nigeria’s industrial history, I was speaking to a whistleblower with close and detailed knowledge of the project. What he had to say about the refinery project, the Indian project managers, the company’s internal culture and its much-publicised trainee program left me absolutely floored. Naturally I reached out to Dangote Group for a comment, but at press time I have received no response or acknowledgment.
My source, whom I shall call “Mukhtar” worked in and around the refinery project between 2016 and 2018, and what I found most distressing amidst everything he said was the revelation that deaths due to onsite accidents are not just known to happen at the refinery site, but are effectively covered up by Dangote. This he said, is because the people who die are mostly site labourers who are hired through staffing agencies instead of directly. When they die, it becomes the staffing company’s problem and the Dangote brand distances itself from it – even though the site owner is legally responsible for all safety-related incidents onsite.
Something else that struck me was that he implied that – contrary to all its public posturing – the company actually has no intention of using Nigerian engineers to run the refinery anytime soon. The trainee program that sent dozens of Engineering graduates for a one-year training program in India? “Strictly PR,” he said.
For full effect, I have decided to reproduce the full and unredacted transcript of our conversation instead of using quotes and reported speech. Here is the conversation below:
ME: When we started this conversation, you mentioned that Dangote Refinery is exempt from Nigerian labour laws. What were you referencing?
Mukhtar: Because the refinery is in the FTZ, it is not subject to certain laws like local content laws. As such, even mundane jobs are given to non-Nigerian companies. Even the refinery’s fence wall was handled by a Chinese company. This didn’t stop long stretches of the fence from collapsing sometime in 2017. The FTZ affects Labour laws too. The company is not really under any obligation to employ Nigerians. They do so mostly for PR. All key decision makers are Indians (say 98%).
ME:There have been several horror stories about Indian-run businesses in Nigeria. Was this one of them?
Mukhtar: Yes, the Indians are quite racist. Some even demand to be referred to as “master”. To be fair, when this is reported, the HR unit makes a show of cautioning them. But I dont think anyone has ever been dismissed for it or seriously punished. Most of workers who meet their death on site are labourers. So their names might be known to many staff. I’ll see what I can get. It happens. It’s kept under wraps but it happens.
ME:Now you mentioned onsite deaths earlier. I want to know all about this. Why haven’t we heard anything about this?
Mukhtar: The refinery site is not really the best place to work. Mortality rate on site is quite high. People falling from heights or getting crushed by heavy vehicles/machines is quite common. These numbers are not reported because most staff are contract staff (or outsourced) so the company gets to wash its hands off such cases. But safety on site is the ultimate responsibility of the owner of the project. The construction site has a board that is supposed to display the safety statistics but it is never displays the truth. According to that board, there has never been a fatality on site. But in reality, I think 2018 had about 5 fatalities between January and March. If I were to guess, I’d say there have been over 25 fatalities since construction started in 2016/17.
ME:Now you said earlier that the trainee program was a washout and a disappointment. Fill me in on that.
Mukhtar: I was one of the first batch of engineers sent to India for training in 2016. In my opinion, the whole scheme was either poorly thought out or the company was somehow compelled to do it, and did so for PR. Our salaries were being paid into our accounts in Nigeria, so we were using our debit cards to access our Nigerian accounts for expenses over there) Around July 2016 when the naira went from around 160 per dollar to nearly double that number, our spending power was effectively halved.
ME:I also remember that there was a forex shortage crisis in 2016 and Nigerian bank cards stopped working outside the country.
Mukhtar: So when the banks eventually stopped all cards from functioning abroad, we were stranded. The company resorted to selling us dollars or rupees at the black market rate.They deducted the money from our salaries. We had accommodation (two adults per room) and feeding (Indian food which many of us did not like). Some of had to buy intercontinental dishes regularly, because Indian food is really not nice if you’re not into many smelly spices. It was crazy. Meanwhile we were told categorically that we would have Nigerian food and Nigerian cooks. It was a blatant lie by the Indian HR director.
Also, no arrangement was made for our medical care. Those who fell ill had to treat themselves from their pockets. During the currency crisis, those who fell ill had to rely on the rest of us to put together our spare change to pay for their treatment. The company promised to refund medical expenses, but this shouldn’t have been the situation in the first place.
ME:Tell me about the training program. What was the course content and the experience like? Was it what you were expecting?
Mukhtar: The training itself was a mess too. We were supposed to be trained to operate the refinery (at the time, it was said that it will be completed by mid 2017), but we were sent to a design company. These (designing a refinery and operating it) are two very, very different things. The trainers did not want us there in the first place. It was not a part of their initial contract with Dangote. Plus, they didn’t know what to teach us because designers are not operators. They were confused, several times, they asked us what we wanted to learn. But we could not know what we wanted to learn cos we knew nothing about the entire business. In the end, they reluctantly settled for teaching us design (skills we were/are unlikely to use cos the refinery was already 90% designed).
ME:If you say that the refinery was “already 90% designed,” and you were learning design in India, that sounds like your presence was superfluous. Was the company really serious about sending you to learn skills to run a refinery?
Mukhtar: Indians will run the refinery. It will take many many many years before that refinery will be populated by just Nigerians. It was strictly PR. Anyways, the training with that design company was suddenly terminated on December 31st. Apparently, Dangote had not paid them a dime for all the months were were being taught design. They didn’t want to send us back to Nigeria so they moved us to the Dangote office in India. The office housed the Indian engineers (around 150 – 200 in number) who were supervising the design work being done by the design company. Now, it is interesting that these guys were working and earning as expatriates within their own country.
But realising that the “training” was a blunder, the company sent back some engineers to train in an actual refinery. So what was supposed to be a 1 year training became 2 years.
ME:Since returning to Nigeria, is there anything else you have noticed about the project that worries or disturbs you?
Mukhtar: Yes. So we have only the refinery at the FTZ, but the company gets to import things meant for other branches of the company duty-free. As a matter of fact, with the Dangote jetty in place and a customs office right there, the company no longer needs to clear stuff at Apapa. Dangote empire effectively has its own customs and port, because we cannot assume that the custom officers stationed at Dangote’s jetty/FTZ are extremely meticulous in checking what comes in and goes out. Personally, I find this disturbing. No non-military entity should be able to import stuff that easily into any country. This is bigger than just skipping custom duty payment.
Between bank staff being fired at 10.30PM and refinery site labourers being killed by workplace accidents without accountability, the sheer grimness of the picture facing Nigerian workers comes into stark relief. It is afterall, an employer’s market, with several thousand qualified people jostling for every job opening, which creates the possibility and incentive to treat staff like battery animals.
Whether the Labour Ministry is willing or able to do anything about such blatant labour exploitation is anybody’s guess. Nigeria’s government is increasingly weak and unable to impose its will on the country even territorially. In the event that the government did take interest, there is a valid fear that it would go to the other extreme and adopt a lazy anti-business Hugo Chavez approach, as it so often does. The real solution if there is to be one, must come from Nigerian labour having a stronger bargaining position through an improved economy. Anything else as it stands, is little more than a sticking plaster.
As Mukhtar mentioned, even inside the ridiculous situation of being financially stranded in a foreign country at the behest of an irresponsible and insincere Nigerian corporate, the vast majority of the group chose to suffer in silence. They did so because spending a year abroad learning useless information, suffering deprivation and experiencing diarrhea after being forced to eat unfamiliar food was still preferable to whatever alternative was at home.
Ultimately, that is the biggest problem facing Nigerian labour.
An 18-year-old girl, Amaka Nweke, has reportedly been beaten to death by her parents for dating a Muslim Yoruba boy and having a baby for him in Lagos.
According to The New Telegraph, she was allegedly beaten to death by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Nweke, for dating and having a baby for a Muslim Yoruba boy in Agility, Mile 2 in Lagos.
The Lagos State Police Command has said it is waiting for medical report to ascertain the cause of her death, although, angry residents of Agility, Mile 12 claim her parents repeatedly subjected Amaka to torture, including starving her during pregnancy.
Amaka and her boyfriend, Ibrahim Lawal, were said to have met when she was in Senior Secondary School. The relationship later resulted into pregnancy, which her parents kicked against. She later delivered a baby boy, christened Zaeed.
Her friends claim Amaka went through hell while pregnant for defying her parents.
One of the Nwekes’ neighbours, Adebola, said;
“Amaka went through a lot. She really suffered. When they were dating, her parents were always threatening her.
They told her that they didn’t want her to continue associating with the boy. They used to beat her with different objects even while she was pregnant. Whenever her boyfriend brought food to her, they would not allow her to have access to it.”
When Amaka was delivered of her baby, her parents couldn’t afford the medical bill. They had to call on Ibrahim’s family and they gladly paid up.
After she was released from the hospital, her parents tried to prevent the boy’s family from naming their grandchild. But it took the intervention of the Chairman of the Community Development Association (CDA) and some elders in the area before the Nwekes released the baby to them.
Ibrahim’s mother, Ebunola, said that she reported the repeated beatings to the police. She said:
“When my son impregnated Amaka, I didn’t reject the pregnancy.
I was already used to seeing them together. On January 1, 2020, she called Ibrahim that her mother had started beating her again for collecting clothes and money from us. .
It was during the beating that she became unconscious and later confirmed death at the #Gbagada General Hospital.”