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vastleft's picture

Citizen action may have bailed out The World's Greatest Ice Cream Shop.

In less than one week, more than $25,000 in donations have poured in to help overextended entrepreneur Gus Rancatore make a significant downpayment on his back taxes and (can you do me this one good turn, Jesus?) potentially reopen, as an alternative to the Mass. Department of Revenue breaking up the hallowed establishment for pennies on the dollar.

Naturally, many people will wonder about the ethics of donating to save a mismanaged for-profit company. Who is he to ask, and why didn't you put your money into a proper charity?

My simple answer is: if you don't like the idea, don't do it.

I sent Gus a few bucks for the same reason that I donate to Corrente: to support creative people whom I admire.

Transcendent foodstuffs are, IMHO, a very precious art. And I would have felt awfully guilty not pitching in to help my favorite ice cream gallery live another day. Well, maybe not exactly guilty, but I knew I'd have pangs of something one day.

So, I'm proud of the current and former citizens of Bedford Falls Cambridge who dug into their pockets and sent a little irrational exuberance to someone who makes us all scream for you-know-what.

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gmoke's picture
Submitted by gmoke on

I've known Gus since before he opened Toscanini's. As a carpenter, I worked on the first store and the expansion into the present place. Gus is a friend but, I gotta tell ya, he ain't no businessman. What Gus wants is to be the best ice cream maker in the world. That's it. He needs a business manager. He needs to turn the reins of the business over to somebody who wants to do the business as much as he wants to make ice cream. Mimi may be that person but I don't know her well enough to say.

I hope to see him in the next few days and will tell him exactly this. Toscanini's is an important part of the Central Square neighborhood and I hope this has been a real wake-up call for him. He needs to get his house in order so we can enjoy his exquisite ice cream for many more years to come.

Solar is civil defense

Submitted by lambert on

More like this please.

And funny how Corrente seemed to exert a gravitational attraction to Toscanini types... We must be doing something right.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

I'm not wondering about the ethics of donating for this purpose -- whatever floats your boat -- but can't help comparing Tosci's situation (and choice of solution) to another local business that recently experienced a tight spot.

When Pandemonium moved from Harvard to Central Square (a process that took far longer than initially expected), people did offer cash donations. And from what I understand, the store refused them, saying that the tax implications of donations to a for-profit store were complicated. [Then again, the comprehension of the tax code by Tosci's management already seems problematic.]
Instead, Pandemonium sold bonds -- $100 up-front redeemable for $110 in merchandise once the store reopened. They also sold t-shirts and accepted sweat equity and found other ways of raising cash which (in the process) rewarded loyal customers and gave them a stake in the store's survival.

I do wonder what's going to happen to Tosci's, whether their act is together enough that this only needs to be done once (instead of requiring repeated bailouts), and those tax implications Tyler was concerned about...

I guess we'll just wait and see.

Submitted by lambert on

Seems like it's after my time.

Boy, do we have a lot of Cambridge readers, or what? Interesting.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.


Don't know what your time was; do you remember the Science Fantasy bookstore that had been over the Wursthaus (mid-1980s)?
Pandemonium was the successor to that bookstore, still selling SF & Fantasy & gaming, first in that same location, then in the Garage.

With rising rents and a changing neighborhood (many fewer bookstores and more big chains; Harvard Square is starting to feel as mallified as Quincy Market became), they decided to move to Central Square in early 2006. Permitting problems and snafus kept the store closed for far longer than intended; if you're really interested, you can read about it in their blog archives.

02138, America's Most Opinionated Zip Code (though currently living in 02141, this one's also up there).

Pandy's has a benefit, though, that Tosci's does not have: a mailing list and something like a community that supports it. I've never been to Pandy's, at either the old location or the new (actually, I think I walked into the old store to get a fuzzy d12), but I get their emails through the science fiction group to which I belong. They sponsor social events there, gaming, and so on, and it at least appears to be a much more personal place than Tosci's, more like a club that operates a bookstore to stay afloat than a store. It really says something that they could get people to volunteer to help them move. It's one of the things I love about this city. (: