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The Seinfeld counter culture

By Paul Viau | Jun 19, 2013
Photo by: Paul Viau A REAL STAND-UP GUY — John Ring, owner of Vandelay Stone Tops, shows off a variety of stone surfaces.

Earlier this year my wife and I saw Jerry Seinfeld perform in Asheville. He looked a little older, and in fairness so did we. But his sense of humor and classic comedy style blew us away.

We needed a good laugh at the time, because I was half way through a major foot makeover — and Carol was tired of being “the caregiver.”

In the following weeks, we started watching “Seinfeld” almost every evening, and it brought back great memories.

In one classic episode, “The Nap” — most famous for George Costanza’s desk makeover into a sleeping hideaway — Jerry remodels his kitchen, and then has it restored/returned to its original configuration — spending $4,000 in the process.

That got us thinking — why not replace our kitchen counter tops?

We had been talking about this project for some time, so I began an intensive “search” for a vendor.  That search started (and ended) when I Googled — “Kitchen Counters Waynesville.” Up came Sears, Lowes, and one local company that sounded very familiar — Vandelay Stone Tops.

I recognized the name Vandelay, but I couldn’t quite recall if it was a who, a what, or a where.

Vandelay? Ah yes, another job for Google.

It turns out that Vandelay was a name used very freely on the TV show “Seinfeld.”

Vandelay was the excuse Jerry and George gave for loitering in the lobby of an office building —  “We’re waiting for Art Vandelay, an importer/exporter ….”

In another hilarious “Seinfeld” episode, George tells the unemployment office he is getting a job as a latex salesman. They verify by calling the number George had given them — and Jerry answers, “Vandelay Industries.”

In yet another “Seinfeld” episode, Elaine uses Art Vandelay as a name for her fictional boyfriend.

All these “Seinfeld” references convinced me to take a closer look at Waynesville’s own Vandelay Stone Tops, so I made an appointment with the not-so-Cosmo-Kramer-like owner, John Ring.

To my delight, Ring was a huge “Seinfeld” fan. In fact, he named his company “Vandelay” after watching Seinfeld’s episode, “The Latex Salesman.”

Unfortunately, the name Vandelay Industries was already taken so Ring settled on Vandelay Stone Tops.

John Ring is now living the George Costanza dream (Or should I say nightmare?) — doing so many quality countertops that he rarely has time to nap under his desk.

I guess his experience paid off. Ring spent nearly 10 years selling countertops for out-of-state fabricators, before opening his shop in Waynesville. He brought five new jobs to the community in the process.

Vandelay employs stonecutters, fabricators and installers — all are all-around stone “wizards.” Vandelay works with a variety of stone surfaces, and can order just about any stone you want. Best of all, Ring works closely with customers so they make an informed decision.

There are so many great stone surfaces available today, including marble, granite and quartz. And that’s exactly the progression Carol and I walked when we chose our countertop.

I love the purely natural marble and granite surfaces — those that John says; “only God can create.” Unfortunately those surfaces are fairly porous, and therefore prone to staining.

We know from experience from the granite we had when we lived in the “F-word" state.  It needs to be repeatedly sealed, and resealed.

Quartz countertops, on the other hand, are man-made — from the part of the granite that gives it hardness. They are less likely to crack, chip or stain and never have to be sealed.

Vandelay also has a variety of recyclable and sustainable countertop surfaces available, including Ice Stone and Geos.

As for price, we found Vandelay very competitive. Naturally (no pun) granite starts out a little less expensive than quartz, but quickly rises in cost dramatically for more intricate designs and patterns.

My wife and I chose a grey, tan and green quartz surface, and the Vandelay team did a quality job of fabricating, fitting and installing our new countertops. We’re very happy with them.

Vandelay’s foreman, Tomas Martinez, even made us heart-shaped quartz trivets from unused parts of our slab — a pleasant surprise!

Down the road, I’ll probably be writing a column about how I dropped one of those quartz trivets, breaking our glass dining room table. That’s something George Costanza would do.

Vandelay Stone Tops is at 18 Hemlock St., in Waynesville (at the corner of Hemlock and South Main). You can ring John Ring at 226-4454. Tell him Jerry Seinfeld sent you.