BROOKLYN, New York –
Charles Freihoffer loves food. He also happens to hold a degree in psychology, and is an authority on people who practice, or claim to practice, cannibalism. “I’ve been called on to offer expert testimony on cases where some pretty grisly crimes have taken place. It’s a very specific disorder and the work takes its toll, so my stress relief for all that is cooking.”
“I wanted to open a dungeon-themed restaurant called Ground Chuck,” Freihoffer explained, with a wry smile. “I decided to ‘go dungeon’ because the space I found was a basement space. So I went and applied for the permits, but I got turned down.”
“Charlie should be able to open a restaurant,” says his mother, Danielle. “I’m not just saying that because he’s my son and I’m his mother, I’m saying it because he’s good at what he does. This is supposed to be the land of free enterprise and that type of thing, last time I checked!”
“I had menu ideas going and everything,” said Freihoffer. “I wanted it to be fun, so I put together some traditional stuff, but with my sense of humor in it because a lot of my friends know what kind of job I do. So I came up with some fun stuff: ribs, leg of lamb, pork shoulder, elbow macaroni, kidney beans, artichoke hearts, things like that, real ‘groaners.’ I think it’s a great idea and fun for the neighborhood, but I guess no one has a sense of humor anymore.”
Susan Metzger, Administrator for the New York City Food & Beverage Commission, was able to give some advice to Freihoffer after his permit was denied. “I told him that even in a so-called ‘edgy’ city like New York, with all the restaurants and trends and themes and whatnot, unless you’re a Disney or a Planet Hollywood or a Guy Fieri, it’s gonna be an uphill battle. Honestly, some of the ideas he had, they came off a little too, um…creative and scary.”
“Believe it or not, the big guys are afraid of the little guys,” she continued. “The reality is, New York is becoming more conservative. Even from where I sit, I can see that. I told him how to appeal and to apply again. I wish him luck. He seems like a nice guy. It sounds like a fun idea.”
“This isn’t the same place I grew up in,” said Freihoffer. “The edge is gone. All the fun is being squashed out by the big-wigs and the corporations so little guys like me get screwed. I don’t know any famous people like Rachel Ray or folks like that, but I mean how am I supposed to get my start? It’s bad enough that opening a restaurant in the NYC means that at any time they could ban a random food item, like they tried to do with large sodas. The city is crazy.”
Freihoffer remains optimistic and appreciates the help and support he receives from his friends and family.
“Well, now it’s just wait-and-see. Here I thought the hardest part was going to be finding the right place to open up,” said Friehoffer. “That was the easiest part! Now it’s all this red tape. Hey, I’m going to keep trying, so stay tuned!” he said, giving the ‘thumbs-up’ gesture.