August 15, 2011
They've been sitting on my desk for weeks, but they only recently kidnapped the part of my brain responsible for language.
Now I walk around thinking it.
Then saying it.
It's my new favorite word.
I heart the sound the way politicians heart the sound of their own voices.
I'm no stranger to my colleagues' cockeyed looks, I'm just getting to know them better as of late.
Then came a stunning moment. I got the man behind my new oral fixation, Robert Hendrickson, on the line to ask about Wubeez Glass Polishing Cloths, which I pronounce WUBB-eez.
"Oh, WOO-beeez," he said, "Like, 'Woo!, that was eeeasy.'"
I still say Wubeez.
But they are damn handy. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Hendrickson works at Post Ranch Inn's Sierra Mar (667-2800), as he has for 14 years, where they go through their fair share of some of the area's finest foods and plenty of wine glasses, providing the perfect proving ground.
They are also in the kitchens of standout spots at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, The Inn at Spanish Bay, La Playa, L’Auberge, Montrio Bistro, Rio Grill, Vesuvio, Flying Fish, Andre’s Bouchee and more.
Wine clubs are getting into them. J. Lohr has gone through 2,000-plus with their own emblem.
Taste Morgan sells their own monogrammed, oversized 20-by-15-inch towels for $8.95 at their space in the Carmel Crossroads.
"We love em!" tasting room staffer Amy Eitoku says. "We were using the standard cloth that everybody has and got all this lint on the glass. Now we use Wubeez because they don't leave any. And it just shines so much better."
Hendrickson started getting his polishing promotion going after a visit to the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. He had already been noodling the possibilities of a superior fabric on glass, then saw the ShamWow guy demo-ing absorption enthusiastically. But the yellow hairs it left on wine glasses made it a no-go.
"I started sending for samples," he says. "Rag companies. People that do 'clean rooms' for Silicon Valley where every [piece of microtechnology] has to be spottless. Medical supply places."
Pretty soon he found a fabric he dug and started ordering from a special supplier by the dozens. When the box they came in revealed that broker's source, so Hendrickson went to that outlet directly (he's not sharing that part). Meanwhile, he started selling more over the Internet and sending them around to restaurant industry spots around here. Today he sells them via PayPal for $7.95 on his Wubeez website ($14.95 for two; $52.95 for 12) and estimates he grosses $22,000 a year, $16K net.
"It's a nice little side business," he says.
He recommends them for more than wine glasses. At Sierra Mar he says the busboys use them on silverware while chefs polish up plates.
"If you work around your house use it on the big screen TV you have," Hendrickson says. "It works on a lot of things, like a universal tool. I've been approached about doing a little one for the iPhone."
That news makes me want to do one thing.
Say it with me.