Olympic-esque Blog Day 12

Olympics = Money.

This can be taken many ways. For some the Olympics is about the endless ads and sponsors. Others the money it cost to stage the games and the debt a city can go into. These days the tax money that ‘own the podium’ has used comes to mind also.

But that equation came to my mind when Vancouver got the games. Was glad to see them get the games. Then the question came to mind. Hmmm, can I afford to go to the games? No. Short and to the point.

I know people who traveled to Vancouver during the Olympics, even some at the last minute. But Vancouver’s reputation as one of if not the most expensive city in Canada came to mind first for me. Which has come to pass in small ways at first. Like a parking lot going from $10-15 a day the week before the Olympics to over 90 bucks. That was Day 1.

One of those things where it’s different if you have a job or a career. Chris Rock had a great bit about that in his last HBO special. My version is a tad different. For those not familiar with the radio show, CFRC is volunteer work for me. Rewarding and enjoyable. Being part of Queen’s radio broadcasts as they made a run to the Vanier Cup was great. Hosting Salt Water Music is great on a weekly basis. So the radio stuff is separate from job vs career.

A career, you can save up money and vacation time and possibly make the trip. When you work a job, not so much. A career you can extra time off and they’ll welcome you back. A job, you will be replaced quite quickly.

If the Olympics are close to where you live that’s a different story. However flying halfway across the country? That takes some planning. Also with almost all of my family on the East Coast you think about the full trip since you don’t know anyone in B.C. to stay with. I know some people in BC but not enough to crash at their place.

Getting time off from work, flying out there, getting a place to stay, tickets to games if you can get them, food, traveling around, flying back and paying for all of this…… whew. Not happening. If I had a Scrooge McDuck vault in my backyard that had so much money I could swim in then that’s a different story.

Since Vancouver got the games I knew “I’ll be watching on TV”. Not a question of “if”. But that puts me in the boat of 99% of Canadians who can’t afford to go. That’s where the Olympics have gotten out of touch. In your home country and not even thinking of going to see it because it’s for people in another tax bracket. That’s too bad.

A lot of Vancouver restaurants and bars are doing what I thought might happen. Price gouging. Even a bit more than I thought. Not only raising prices but some have started adding an automatic gratuity on top of the bill. So bad service or good service, too bad. You have to pay up to a 20% tip either way. These links have a list of the ones doing that and ones that aren’t. Two people came up with the idea. Mark Prince who founded CoffeeGeek a local coffee website from Vancouver. And Rick Green who has the BC Brews blog.

http://www.coffeegeek.com/

http://bcbrews.wordpress.com/

Started writing the post on the weekend so funny how Mark’s words match to mine from a few days ago. My thoughts of Vancouver being expensive in the best of times. Along with worry about what places would do this month have come to pass. Here is from Mark’s post.


I have already been asked several times why I’m doing this – and the answer’s pretty simple for me. Vancouver’s already an expensive town. Cocktails are routinely $12 at a lot of places, mains are $25-$45 even at middle of the road restaurants. We have massive added on taxes (about to get higher with impending HST), and our servers in town are somehow trained to believe anything less than 15% tip is a slap in the face and an insult.

Jacking up prices, making “gratuities” compulsory – they all send a very bad message about this city. Tourists from around the world are visiting Vancouver for the first time, and if we send them home with memories of $7 “dollar pizza” slices, $12 for a plastic cup of Molson Canadian, and $35 prices for a $15 steak, you’re embarrassing us all. Tossing on a 20% compulsory tip at the end of the overpriced bill just adds insult to injury.

And, I might add, you’re damaging Vancouver’s reputation, long term.

Gouging list

http://www.spiffle.com/rants/02-16-2010_12-20am

Good Businesses list along with some bad ones

http://www.spiffle.com/rants/02-16-2010_12-20am

Real Reason for Olympic Auto-Gratuity

Another article on Spiffle specifically about restaurants in Vancouver and how management also dips into the “tip pool”. Except Revenue Canada in the last few years ramped up investigating servers and their tips.  But don’t with management.  So they get extra income without reporting it.  Things you learn during the Olympics.

http://www.spiffle.com/rants/02-19-2010_07-20pm

Latest update as of 6am est Wednesday morning with the good and the bad.

http://www.spiffle.com/rants/02-18-2010_12-15am

Thanks to the guys for starting out the idea and all those who contributed to the list. Great use of the internet to call out the bad places and praise the good ones. Which I’ll do at the end of this post.

Olympics have become out of reach for the average person. Honest examples from Bob McCown from the FAN 590 in Toronto.

http://www.fadoo.ca/blog/display/random-thoughts-from-vancouver-1510

If you watch CTV/Rogers coverage you would be led to believe that Hockey House is a great place. Wrong.

“Hockey House is pretty impressive, but very elitist. If you think you’ll be rubbing shoulders with famous hockey types when you get in…think again. The IIHF has their own space and “the common folk” can’t get in. Hockey Canada…same thing. Plenty of celebs are around, but you probably won’t even know who they are there. Too bad since this was a good idea gone bad.”

Only VANOC could mess up something called “Hockey House”. Bob had someone come up to him saying he had gotten a ticket to Canada-US hockey game. How much? $2300. I think staying at home was for the best. Credit to Bob also for pointing out where he’s staying. Rogers put him in a place that must’ve cost an arm and a leg. Bob was honest about that fact and even gave a picture of his view. Lot of complaints about how it’s an Olympics for the high rollers. Completely true. As of today McCown is the only media person to actually say how good they have it.

“Staying in a penthouse condo just a block from Robson Street (the epicentre of 24 hour lunacy) with a 270 degree view of English Bay, Stanley Park and the mountains. Trust me…this does not suck!”

Think Brian Williams is at a regular hotel room? No way.

Just found another person writing about the cost. ‘Vancouver Olympics Fancy Price Tag’ from Meena Mann.

http://aircheckerradioindustry.blogspot.com/2010/02/vancouver-olympic-games-just-like-any.html


The Olympic merchandise, the accommodations, eating out, and not to forget the event tickets can all add up to over $350/per day/per person.

The real drain to my bank account comes when I go out for lunch, dinner or even just a simple drink; the restaurants have definitely increased their prices for the Games. For instance, the first time I really felt the sting was when I had ordered one glass of house red at La Bocca. Upon receiving my bill my eyes popped out and my jaw fell to the floor. I couldn’t believe it, but that one glass of house red, which wasn’t even that great, cost me $16.67. Yup, that’s right. One glass of –house- is close to what the average 1/2liter would cost you. Hell, I’ve even seen wine bottles for less than that.

Another place which I found that has a high priced menu is Citta. It is located right across from La Bocca. Citta is a great pub environment, but the prices for drinks are way too high. I had ordered a bottle of wine, split between my roommate and me-just for the record. The bottle was no more than $25 but we had paid $56.00. I think that was one of their cheaper bottles as well.

Vancouver not really helping their reputations over the last 2 weeks. Not surprising to me, but still disappointing.

To close the list of GOOD businesses in Vancouver that aren’t being greedy bastards. I could use stronger words but I better not. Got to be semi-professional even on a blog. Each business has where it’s located and the source of the information. If you see something like @robertcarnell that is a Twitter account. Kudos to these places. I might not ever get out to Vancouver but at least this list can help some people. Either now or keep it for a future trip.

Long time listeners of the radio show might remember I haven’t been back to Newfoundland since 1999. That is also my last vacation of any length.  I realize 11 years is a long time when I write it down but don’t really think about it much.  So the list of good places in Vancouver to leave on a bright note.

Subeez Cafe, 891 Homer, Yaletown Great prices, no auto gratuity (one of the few Yaletown busineses to have #2010niceprices!). (source: @Network_Guy)

Sammy J. Peppers, Granville Island – prices stable, NO auto gratuity charged. (source: @hfguiere)

Ouisi Bistro, 3014 Granville Street – no price raises, great specials during Olympics, no auto gratuity. (source: me visiting).

Alibi Room, 157 Alexander in Gastown, prices stable, specials in effect, no auto gratuity, no cover charge. (source: @CAMRA_YVR)

On the Edge Pub, 303 Columbia Street (Gastown), Great prices (eg – $5.35 for 18oz of Phillips Blue Buck), no auto gratuity. (source: @ilford)

Black Frog Eatery, 108 Cambie Street, Gastown – No price increases, no auto gratuity, great beer prices in effect (as usual). (source: @loxyisme)

Pacific Culinary Institute, Granville Island – a favourite “secret” haunt of Vancouver locals, all prices etc as per normal even though Gastown is Olympics Crazy! (source: @SurreyMarket)

Irish Heather, Gastown no price increases, no cover, no auto gratuity – business as usual at this hopping Gastown favourite (source: @StephenLambie)

Salt Tasting Room, Blood Alley, Gastown – no increased prices, specials as per usual, no autogratuity. (source – personal visit)

Main Street Eateries on S. Main – word from a Main Street Restaurateur is that most, if not all Main St. eateries having prices as usual, no auto gratuities – Go Main Street dining! (source: @LatitudeonMain)

Urban Thai Bistro – Yaletown – featuring “as usual” happy hour, dishes under $5, no auto gratuity. Yay! (Source: @urbandiner)

Phat Sandwiches – Yaletown – nominal price increases, but Vancouver loyalty cards for locals to give a price break during Olympics. (was formely on negative list based on incorrect information via twitter). (Source: Global News Hour)

Au Petit Chavignol – nice discounts on weekends on fondues, wines during Olympics. (source: @petitchauvignol)

Incendio Pizza in Gastown – prices “as per usual” during Olympics, no autograt. (source: @IncendioPizza, @SBonnerABV)

Milestone’s in Yaletown – prices kept stable, $8 breakfast is available everyday. (source: @tellytelly

The Whip – 7th near Main has maintained their prices, service during Olympics. (source: @cbjerrisgaard)

The Diamond in Gastown has prices more or less stable. (source – me visiting)

Irashai Grill in Coal Harbour has promised to keep prices neutral during Olympics! (source: @Irashai)

Campagnolo on Main Street – reported to have no price increases, same service as always during Olympics. (source: @campagnolomain)

Refuel Restaurant and Bar keeping prices stable for some awesome food and drink. (source: same as previous)

Amarcord Ristorante of Yaletown – prices stable, no autogratuity for Yaletown! Yay! (direct from Restaurateur)

Provence Marinaside – removed – auto gratuity, realised it was bad policy – go Provence!

Corner Suite Bistro Deluxe, Thurlow at Alberni – no automatic gratuity, “launch” pricing in effect (they just opened), great service, killer deep bartending staff. (source: me, visiting).

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