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Russo lands power meet with ConEd

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By Alex Davidson

The owner of Russo’s on the Bay has a meeting scheduled with a ConEd representative almost three weeks after he said the utility ignored his requests to have someone come to his Howard Beach catering hall to examine the causes of a June power outage.

The outage forced Frank Russo and his staff to cancel a prom for a group of Long Island students. The catering hall owner said he has since received phone calls from nervous brides and other customers who questioned him about his facility’s readiness to deal with power outages.

Until Tuesday, Frank Russo Jr. said both in a phone interview and in a July 11 letter that he wanted a representative from the utility to come to his facility to explain what caused the June 26 power outage — a request that was not met. He said he also wanted a ConEd official to tell him what he could do to avoid any future power outages, such as possibly installing a generator independent of the power grid.

“I have worked too many years and too hard to gain the reputation which I have and to just sit back and have ConEd ruin it,” he said in the letter.

A spokeswoman for Russo said Tuesday that a representative from ConEd had contacted him and arranged to have a meeting with the caterer later this week.

Before he received the Tuesday phone call, Russo said he was only able to reach ConEd claims manager Thomas Kojes last Thursday. Kojes told him ConEd was not responsible for any damages at Russo’s due to the four-hour power outage and denied his request for the utility to send out a representative, Russo said.

“I told Mr. Kojes that they can have the attitude they do because we don’t have 12 electric companies to choose from, and if he worked for me with his attitude, he wouldn’t last a day,” Russo said in his letter to the TimesLedger.

“I told him not to lose his job with ConEd because both he and ConEd have the same attitude when it comes to customer satisfaction and understanding, and they deserve each other.”

Russo, who said in his letter that he also owns two Gold’s Gyms, two other restaurants and an importing company, said he has received several concerned phone calls from patrons since he had to cancel the prom for hundreds of West Hempstead High School students. He said clients, who have booked the catering hall several months ahead of time, were nervous the power could fail again and ruin their affairs.

D. Joy Faber, a spokeswoman for ConEd, said Tuesday that the utility provider has been in touch with Russo and would like to resolve any outstanding issues.

“We are reaching out to him,” she said. “We will arrange to meet to discuss possible business options with him. We will continue communication with him about the incident.”

Russo said he would like to work with the utility provider to figure out preventative measures to avoid future power outages. He said he also wants ConEd to explain to him the specifics of what caused the June 26 outage that cut off service to 6,500 customer in the Howard Beach area.

The catering hall owner said he read a letter on a Web site that expressed one bride’s worry about having her wedding at Russo’s because of a possible power outage.

“I need an answer for all the future customers who have their parties booked here as to what Russo’s and ConEd are doing to solve this potential problem,” he said before receiving news of an appointment time with the utility provider. “I can’t turn around and say, ‘ConEd just refused to talk to us.’ That is not the way I do business.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:18 pm, October 10, 2011
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