(Long Island, NY) I am very amused by the tempest in a teapot happening in Massapequa Park. Are people there really up in arms over the smell of barbecue? Owner Al Horowitz isn’t as amused as I am–after all, he’s got to deal with the legal hassles, the complaints, and the bad humor of the community. He can’t win here–popular food brings lots of traffic into the area–yet another thing for people to gripe about–and the recipe for success includes slow roasting tasty meat all day, every day.
I read quotes from local residents who complain that the smell of barbecue is “nauseating”. No doubt this gripe comes from those who opt out of the carnivore’s diet in favor of tofu or some other equally soft and mushy fare. But lest I sink to the level of an ad hominem attack here, I’ll simply leave it at that. (I will confess that I
actually tried vegetarianism for about a year, but I realized the pointy teeth in my mouth were there for a specific evolutionary reason.)
I feel bad for Al Horowitz on a variety of levels. I once had an apartment directly above an Indian restaurant. If anyone had the right to complain about food smells all day and all night, it would have been me. But the REAL issue for me was that the constant, lingering curry smells made me HUNGRY. I exercised a lot that year because I knew my food intake was going way up—I ate more tikka masala that year than one person ought to consume.
So I have a bit of perspective on this issue. But these Massapequa Park complainers aren’t taking the long view. Let’s just say Smokin’ Al’s goes away tomorrow, forever and ever Amen. What happens then?
Well, first, the smell of cooking meat disappears. Second, all that traffic Al brings in goes away. And probably some of the revenue generated by that traffic. Are the customers spending more nearby when they drop in to pick up barbecue? Is the local economy getting a little boost here? What happens if that cash stops flowing? I could understand the complaints if the odor wasn’t cooking food, but rotting garbage. But to call the smell of barbecue “noxious” sounds more like a flag-waving PETA freak complaint and less like “We want clean air”. What’s the truth here? Beats me, I just call them like I see them (from over a mile away and without my glasses.)
One major complaint about Smokin’ Al’s is the parking situation–some gripe about customers using private driveways when they go to grab some lunch. Now this is an issue I completely sympathize with–cretinous customers don’t have the right to just pull in anywhere they feel like in the quest for ribs. We can’t blame this squarely on the owner of the business, but it does bear mentioning; it’s an important issue that deserves to be sorted out quickly.
I bet a couple of tow trucks could sort out that little driveway issue nicely–it wouldn’t take long before the neighborhood gets a rep for being hardcore on the parking front. Just a suggestion.
What I really want to know is this—why are people complaining about the smell of barbecue when there’s far worse to be had? Hit Times Square on any weekend and drink in the heady fumes of all that garbage piled up to the sky on street corners outside the clubs and restaurants. I realize you don’t have to LIVE there, but seriously—this is the sort of stench we can all live without, as is the wretched exhaust from all those cars. Why don’t we complain about THAT? Where are the citations for “NYC garbage stink”? (I know it ain’t on Long Island, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. It smells.)
One published report says Smokin’ Al’s was given permission to run provided there was “minimal odor”. If that’s true, Al Horowitz’s reply (in the same published report) saying in effect, “I never SAID it wouldn’t SMELL” doesn’t hold water…but what was the actual language of the “minimal odor” clause? That’s the rub, if you’ll forgive the
barbecue-related pun. Time will tell how this all shakes out, but there has to be some kind of happy medium here. Come on, people, we’re still in a recession and here’s one business that’s actually managed to do all right, at least from appearances and this little controversy notwithstanding. Can’t we all just get along and pass the sauce?