Kitchen Nightmare Part II – Spanish Pavillion

Since being featured on Gordon Ramsey’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ as a failing family business at war with itself, it seems that little has changed for the Spanish Pavillion; at least as far as management is concerned.

Earlier this month, during Teacher Appreciation week, the Harrison (NJ) Education Association teachers banded together and donated food to the Harrison Police Department. Not only did they donate food, they donated enough food to cover every squad for two days.

Considering the immense pressure that teachers have been under to literally redefine education as we know it in these unprecedented times, it was nothing short of humbling that they still took the time to recognize and appreciate the first responders serving their community.

I WISH THAT WAS WHERE THIS STORY ENDED.

According to ‘Michael Millan Fernandez’, whose family has owned and operated the Harrison, NJ¬†Spanish Pavillion since 1976, when he was made aware of the fact that the food was, in fact, intended to be donated to the local police department, he ‘tried to tell the teachers to order food elsewhere’.

I would imagine that, realizing that NO small business is any position to turn down customers during times like these, Michael (clearly grudgingly) obliged the teachers and fulfilled the order.

I WISH THAT WAS WHERE THIS STORY ENDED.

Michael then delivered the order to the police department and posed with a few of the officers for a photo, but not before making inappropriate comments directed at the female officer stating, “Take a pic of me and her. I’ll try to keep my hands to myself.”

I WISH THAT WAS WHERE THIS STORY ENDED.

Whether because of the fact that neither Michael nor the Spanish Pavillion had anything to do with the benevolent act other than fulfilling an order, because of Michael’s inappropriate behavior while at the PD or for some other unknown/unadvertised history that likely exists between Michael and members of the Harrison Police Department, when Harrison PD posted about the donation on their social media page, Michael was cropped out of the photo. No big deal, right? Guess again. That simple cropping set Michael off into a tirade suitable for the most anti-cop webpages. Worst of all, he did so using the family restaurant’s social media page, by proxy, speaking on behalf of the family and the business.

Michael has since offered a half-hearted apology in which he regrets taking out his anger at the few on the many. So, basically, it’s not “F*ck the Police”, it’s just “F*ck Some of the Police”. Got it. While the lukewarm apology came, it did not come before Michael engaged in a war of words with pretty much any takers, including our President/Founder, retried NYPD Police Officer Michael J Burke. Fernandez boasted that he “will die a man of my word”, whatever that means.

Here’s the thing: EVERYONE is under an immense amount of pressure these days. Many are losing their livelihoods…livelihoods that have taken decades to build. Civil Servants and medical technicians are on the front lines of this Covid virus, worrying every day that they are either going to contract the virus or, worse yet, bring it home to their own families. Regardless of what you feel about the virus or its origin or how we should be dealing with it as a nation, one this is clear: it can be deadly; and whether the survival rate is 97% or 99%, for the ones who have infected family members or are infected themselves, it’s either 0% or 100%. That pressure and that stress are equally as real. However, neither are an excuse.

I am sure that Michael will say his comments were taken out of context, as though there is an appropriate context for ‘F*ck the Police’. I am sure that he will try to justify his clear lapse in judgment by citing stress over being a small business owner; all which very well may be true. However, a lot of American’s are under similar stress and don’t respond with temper tantrums motherfu**ing their local police department. In fact, I’ve ‘seen red’ countless times in my lifetime and, not once, felt compelled to scream that out in hate, let alone put it in writing on behalf of my entire family and business.

The truth is likely less sexy. There is a high probability that Michael has NEVER liked the police. He probably had an interaction early on in his life (or recent for all we know) that angered him and he has harbored that anger for just such a moment where he felt that expressing it would be justified, if not lauded.

This seems to be a growing epidemic in the United States, especially in the age of cell phone cameras and social media. Civilians, especially those with an axe to grind or simple anarchists with no respect for authority, are exploiting the fact that they can fight ‘dirty’ while law enforcement has to follow rules. The perp can ball up his fists and aim to take a police officer’s head off. However, God forbid that officer, out of a fight for his OWN survival, uses a tactic not specifically outlined in his/her academy syllabus, he/she is suddenly a murderer.

The affable amongst our ranks can often be heard using lines like, “Pick your battles”. Well, the members of Brothers Before Others and those who think like us have: all of them. Every false narrative and/or hate speech being directed at our profession will be met here with resistance. Every – Single – Time. The American law enforcement officer is an American citizen before he is a police officer. As such, he/she is granted the same rights and liberties as every other citizen, including the freedom of speech.

Retired NYPD Police Detective and BBO Board Member Rob O’Donnell commented:

“The common thread between those who are anti-law enforcement or simply want to rebel-rouse against their police is that they throw such insults like “Fuck the Police” out there, comfortable in the fact that the police department and their officers will be required to respond passively according to their departmental restrictions/rules. Believing this leads to the belief that they, the instigators, have the upper hand. This is precisely where organizations such as BBO take point. We are comprised of both active AND retired law enforcement, many of whom, now retired, were once respected¬†leaders in their field. Challenging keyboard warriors and cowards who hide behind the safety of regulations means nothing to the retired MOS who are still just as passionate about their chosen profession today as they were the day they were sworn in. THAT is how we, as a profession, level the playing field. When those who CAN speak up do so and stop accommodating the bulls**t.”

Realizing that Mr. Fernandez is likely no different than any other street mutt waving his middle finger in the air at the police, Michael Burke wrapped things up with this:

“Our goal, as always, is to speak for our sisters and brothers who cannot speak for themselves because of departmental policies/social media policies. In a perfect world, this would be the administrations issue to address. However, most seem to lack any interest. But, rest assured, we will not take our foot off of the proverbial ‘gas’ until the rank and file of the Harrison Police Department have indicated that they are satisfied with whatever apology Mr. Fernandez has to offer. We do not take our cues from antagonists or their apologists. It is often said that an individual accepts the treatment that he/she feels they deserve. My message to the American law enforcement officer is that we have collectively allowed the bar to be set way too low. We DESERVE so much better; and we will continue to exercise OUR freedom of speech every time anti-police rhetoric is hurled our way.”

Posted in Uncategorized.