In the dark days of the 1990s, nothing spelt "doom" more to Moscow’s expats than news of another foreign-owned restaurant or bar falling victim to the inevitable "Russian management takeover."
But as everyone here will tell you, those days are over: Russia is booming, business is far more civilized, and "Russian management takeover" in the Putin era is a synonym for "progressive management."
So it is with great satisfaction that we at The eXile can report another giant leap forward with the new Russian management takeover at expat-favorite HEMINGWAY’S. Yup, they’ve ditched the old Tex-Mex theme, and introduced a new groundbreaking menu which was described to us by some manager who picked up their main phone as, "Obichnaya russkaya kukhnya" (typical Russian food).
Now, some folks out there, stuck in a pre-Medvedian mindset, might argue that the last thing Moscow needs is yet another "typical Russian restaurant." The genius of the new Hemingway’s strategy is exactly because it is so counter-intuitive. They’ll be studying this at Wharton for years, I tell ya!
Indeed a lot about a restaurant’s new management can be learned from a simple telephone call, as our plucky sales director babe Zalina learned this week when she called Hemingway’s for the umpteith time to find out about when they’ll ever pay us the debts that they owe. In this issue, we invite you to listen in with us on the phone call between Zalina and Hemingway’s new director, as we offer our readers a rare exclusive peek into the new Putin Era way of doing business. We think you’ll agree that the barbaric days of the 1990s are long gone in Moscow, and we’ve truly entered a new age:
Exile: Hello, Alexander?
Exile: This is Zalina, the sales director for The eXile.
Hemingway’s: Ktooo?! [Who?!]
Exile: Zalina, the sales director of The eXile.
Hemingway’s: I already told you, we don’t need your newspaper! Our restaurant isn’t geared towards your audience anymore.
Exile: I’m not calling about that. I’m calling about your restaurant’s debt to us.
Hemingway’s: Chtoooo?! I owe you money?
[Here Zalina reminds Alexander about the the ads that his company placed, which issues they were in, the legal "acts" and contracts attached to each ad, and reminds him that he’d promised to give her an answer a couple of weeks back on how Hemingway's would repay it.]
Hemingway’s: Da poshla tin a hui! Esli ti menja eshe raz pozvonish, ya priedu i viebu vas vsekh v rot!†
Exile: Why are you talking to me like this? I’m a young woman, how can you—
Hemingway’s: Da kto ti takaya suka, chto-bi ya tebja chto-to obyasnil!‡
For some reason here, Zalina hung up the phone, just when the director was warming up to her. We’re not sure exactly why, to be honest. Because as far as we can tell—and granted, our Russian is a bit rusty—when a Russian restaurant owner tells a young woman, "poshla ti na hui!" what he’s saying is, "Please, come to my restaurant, let us break bread and discuss this in the civilized spirit of Putin’s Russia!" And when a restaurant owner suggests to a young woman, "Ya priedu i viebus vas vseh v rot!" what he means is, "And bring all of the eXile staff over here as well, I want to show everyone the special hospitality of the new Hemingway’s business spirit!"