Good to get owner on phone

Thursday morning a week ago, we woke up to find our refrigerator-freezer not working and the food rapidly defrosting.

Since the outside temperature was near zero, we were able to bag up the frozen goods and set them outside on the woodpile to stay cold. We also bagged up some snow and put it on the refrigerator items in a cooler.

We then called Ruby and Quiri in Johnstown for service, because that’s where we bought it, as well as most of our other appliances.

Since the store wasn’t open yet, we called the off-hours emergency number and much to our surprise, owner Rick Ruby answered.

Now, anyone who lives around here knows Ruby and Quiri is a large, long-established company with many employees. So we were very surprised to get the owner on the phone instead of a technician or answering service.

We quickly arranged a service call, and by the next morning, our refrigerator was back in service.

This reminds me how rare it is to speak directly to the person in charge. One that comes to mind from my acting days is Paul Herman. I knew Paul as “Paulie” Herman.

In the 1980s, Herman dated Bernadette Peters. He was a co-owner of Columbus Cafe along with ballet great Mikhail Baryshnikov. It was located on Columbus Avenue near Lincoln Center.

I was a waitress and sometimes bartender at Columbus.

Paulie always answered the phone at the restaurant when he was there and always personally greeted patrons, especially the many actors and notables who frequented the place, including Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Angelica Huston, Danny Aiello and Michael Keaton, just to name a few.

Herman has made appearances in movies such as “Crazy Heart,” “Once Upon a Time in America,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Analyze That” and “American Hustle.” He also had a recurring role on “The Sopranos” as “Beansie” Gaeta, as well as another HBO series, “Entourage,” as Vincent Chase’s accountant, Marvin.

Unfortunately, Paulie’s brother Charlie was the one who usually dealt with the waitstaff. Charlie was a miserable person to deal with.

I remember Paulie asking me to nicely show then-10-year-old Drew Barrymore how to waitress as she kept begging me saying she wanted to be a waitress just like me. Hah!

Brother Charlie told me not to be friendly to the customers, just to wait on them, which was in direct conflict with what Paulie had said and how I am. In contrast, Paulie was always going from table to table talking to the patrons, often sitting and chatting.

I remember my friend, patron Mike Grabow, coming to my defense and telling Charlie not to treat me like that. (Mike gave me a great tip by offering one of his rent-controlled apartments in the West Village, which even had a courtyard.)

It was great to talk to the owner, both at Ruby and Quiri and back in the day at Columbus.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website,