Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Welcome to Hotel Rescue
Pulling the Royal Albert Arms out of the gutter could be a colourful reality show
You like plot twists?
Then you gotta love the local reality show that only needs a producer, because it's already been cast.
If he wasn't already one of the stars, Daren Jorgenson -- who made his fortune before the Internet-pharmacy window was slammed on his fingers -- could be the casting director.
Jorgenson being a character who collects characters.
And not all of them of the human variety.
The most famous of those being the "show's" central character, the Royal Albert Arms, the Exchange District flophouse and historic music venue that conveniently is already inhabited by a Hotel California cast of clients, some of whom, true to the song, have checked out but never really left.
Most famous among those is the lingering presence of the much-feared thug, Ray "Notoriously Big-Mouthed" Rybachuk.
Rybachuk was Jorgenson's problematic partner and villain of the piece, until -- like a plot turn out of Game of Thrones -- the 42-year-old ex-con fell off his slow-moving snowmobile last Grey Cup Sunday. And died.
Jorgenson's biggest problem seemed behind him. All he had to do was clean up the mess Rybachuk left behind at the Royal Albert, reopen the bar he closed because of Ray's rampaging antics and eventually, hopefully, sell the century-old property. Ready for the next plot twist?
So, the night Rybachuk's death broke, Jorgenson contacted yet another local character and invited him for breakfast. The next morning, Jorgenson handed the keys to his chosen cleanup man -- Martin Boroditsky.
Some of you may know him better by his stage name: Marty Gold.
Yes, Marty Gold, the local citizen journalist/community activist, whose resumé includes cab driver, wrestling promoter, radio talk-show host and current cable-TV show host.
Oh, yes, he was also assistant manager, DJ, desk clerk and vendor guy at the Osborne Village Inn, a.k.a. "the Zoo."
This week, Jorgenson told me he was lucky to have someone like Marty for cleanup. Someone he says he could trust. But, even with his previous hotel experience and natural smarts, Marty wasn't prepared for what he found that first day on the job as the Royal Albert's self-styled project manager.
"We had no idea what we were getting into," Marty said Thursday as he showed me around the still-vacant bar.
"We" being his 33-year-old, handyman son, Evan Boroditsky, whom he called to join him as operations manager and general Mr. Fix It.
Marty hadn't seen much of his son, at least not on an everyday basis, since Evan was three and Marty left. The four months they've spent every day together fixing the property, and helping the people who needed help, has changed that.
"It's right up his aptitude," Marty said proudly. "But not only that, he worked at the Zoo after I did. So he learned how to deal with the people and chase rent."
But we were talking about the first day Marty arrived solo -- before he found out about the Mad Cow street-gang presence, the in-house prostitute and the outsiders treating the fire escape the way vermin treat a crack they can creep through.
"The first day was mayhem," Marty said. "There were loud discussions involving people on one side of the fence and Daren, who had a locksmith here changing the locks to take control of the buildings."
Jorgenson owns another building next door.
By early afternoon of Day 1, Marty had decided the hotel needed 24-hour security. He had been listening to horror stories from some of the 60 tenants.
Drug-debt collectors dropping by and the screaming that went with the beatings. And then there was the murder, the guy who was allegedly forced out a window a few weeks earlier in November.
"That traumatized the population," Marty said.
Doors kicked in. Heads kicked in.
It meant there were people who needed to be kicked out, and that's what father and son began doing.
First, though, they had to figure out who was living in the rooms. Rybachuk's own cleanup crew left no paperwork behind.
Tenant Paul Delaquis remembers the Rybachuk days this way.
"It was chaos, out of control."
He laughs when he says it now, but the 45-year-old wasn't laughing then.
Back then, on a scale of one to 10, what was it like?
"It was zero," he said. "Actually, it was worse than zero."
"Probably about nine."
Marty and Evan were hoping it was good enough to reopen the bar for this Juno weekend, but that didn't happen.
Evan is worried when it does open, he and his dad won't be a part of it and someone will take it over who doesn't know the quirky, creaky place, and doesn't know the people who live there as friends the way he does.
"I didn't do it so Daren could hand it over to someone else who knows nothing about the building."
Jorgenson is appreciative, but he's not going there.
"I think Evan is putting a lot of pressure on Marty to get me to agree to staying in the bar and restaurant as the owner and hire him to run it," Daren said in an email Friday, "but that is NOT something I will entertain. I do NOT want to own and run the bar and restaurant."
In any event, it appears father and son and friends have done a helluva job in a hell of a place. What's bigger, to my mind, is it's brought father and son together like never before. And who knows, maybe there's an even bigger, longer future together.
"We should start a reality TV show called Hotel Rescue," mused Marty.
As I was saying at the outset, all the show needs is a producer.
Heck, Marty Gold has almost everything else on his resumé. Why not reality-show producer?
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 29, 2014 B1
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