BentoBox bought, Propane booted, Bateau boosted, Barzelay beaned, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, October 22, 2021

Hello Friday,

First, please remember that this past Tuesday’s Family Meal is copy / pasted at bottom as usual. Paying subscribers got it on Tuesday. If you want to be like them…

Friends. It has been a stressful last few weeks. And maybe these last few Family Meals have been choppy because of that. But I am happy to report that today at lunch, my two-year-old son — at the tail-end of his school’s Fall break and mispronouncing “yummy” like we let him watch Swingers last night — started pointing one by one at the rare, midday ice creams on the table, stating matter-of-factly, “That one’s money. And that one’s money. And that one’s money….”

Ups and downs. Strikes and gutters. Ate some ice cream. It was money.

Let’s get to it…

Quick Tech Roundup (“All-In-One-Place!”) – “BentoBox, the restaurant website builder, announced it will be acquired by Fiserv, a payments company that’s also parent to the Clover point of sale system. It’s the latest acquisition meant to bolster a company’s complete set of tech offerings to restaurants — the same do-it-all ethos that’s driven Toast’s recent success.” Details via Kristen Hawley in Expedite. Terms not disclosed, but Hawley says BentoBox brings Fiserve “a customer roster of 7,500 brands across 14,000 restaurant locations, per a press release.”

Also in Expedite: “Resy plans to pull its Android app.” Customers apparently hated it, so seems Resy will have to start over from scratch (with Amex money this time). “[The app] has a solid (and I mean solid) one-star rating in the Google Play store.”

And for your IPO / M&A crystal balls: What does it mean that ChowNow has hired Andre Mancl as CFO? Per that press release, “Mancl joins ChowNow from Credit Suisse, where he served as the Global co-head of Internet Investment Banking… Mancl has worked on more than 100 investment banking transactions, including the IPOs of Lyft, LegalZoom, AppLovin, Snap, TheRealReal, GoDaddy, Wix, Eventbrite, and Upwork.” Ask for some stock if they give you a chef-tech consulting deal?

The Chill – In NYC, “The temporary measure that allowed restaurants to heat their outdoor setups using propane heaters will not be returning this year, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed to Crains New York on Wednesday. The decision was made in regards to fire safety, according to the publication… To offset the costs of propane heaters purchased last year… de Blasio is offering small businesses a $5,000 grant to invest in natural gas or electric-powered heaters this year.” That link above hits a paywall at Crains. Luke Fortney’s summary in Eater NY is here.

The Profile Treatment – Congrats to the team at Bateau in Seattle for getting called iconoclasts (in a good way) underneath this NYT headline on Tuesday: “Beef Is a Problem. This Seattle Steakhouse Wants to Be Part of the Solution.” I have no reason to doubt that second sentence at all(!) but have to admit that in this era of exposés and endless caveats, I was surprised to read Brett Anderson write in the New York Times with such certitude about the restaurant’s sourcing, and call Bateau “nearly a genre of its own: a steakhouse that is also a critique of steakhouses, and a model of a better way forward.” Print that one out and frame it for the wall, folks!

Meanwhile… knives are out for the carcass of erstwhile “sustainable” meat darling Belcampo (See Tuesday’s FM below), with Bryan Mayer, Executive Director of The Butcher’s Guild not expressing a lot of sympathy on Instagram: “They have done great damage to the good meat movement. Which is strange to think and say since they were never a part of it...”

The Profile Treatment Too (For the Somm) – Not a profile of a wine country person, but of wine country itself: “Healdsburg was once a sleepy country town. Now it’s getting multi-million dollar mega developments.” A visual one from Esther Mobley and team at the SF Chronicle, best scrolled on a big screen. “Today’s Healdsburg boasts three-Michelin-starred dining and a resort with rooms that cost thousands of dollars a night. A flurry of development, including multiple luxury condominium projects in which a single unit could cost as much as $6.5 million, is still underway. If Healdsburg once looked like Napa’s country cousin, it now looks a lot more like, well, Napa.” With cameos from SingleThread, Montage Resort, Matheson, Little Saint (formerly The Shed, and now being redone by Ken Fulk), Dry Creek Kitchen, Cyrus, wineries Williams SelyemRochioli, and Jordan, and more…

The Suits – AP headline: “Restaurateur whose business was raided by sheriff gets $5M.” Dateline: Phoenix. “Maricopa County officials approved a settlement Wednesday with a restaurant owner in metro Phoenix who claimed in a lawsuit that then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office had defamed him and violated his rights about seven years ago when investigating whether employees at his restaurants used fraudulent IDs to get jobs.” Restaurant’s name: “Uncle Sam’s.”

For Design Fans – Eater has an entire package out this week called “Restaurant Design; Right Now — and What’s Next.” Exciting for design fans, right? Meh. It’s mostly a collection of personal essays and underwhelming and/or PR photos. BUT there is a list of “Who’s Defining Restaurant Design Now” by Kathryn O’Shea-Evans, including definer designers: Roman and Williams (Le Coucou, The NoMad London, La Mercerie); AvroKO (SingleThread, Momotaro, Nan Bei); Bells + Whistles (Animae), Nina Magon (51 Fifteenth); and Montalba Architects (Nobu Malibu, Cassia). Worth a read.

The Media (Opportunity) – Former Dallas Observer critic Brian Reinhart, now in a new columnist role at the Dallas Morning News, emailed to say: “Loads of opportunities for people to come be food writers with me here in Dallas! And by loads I mean probably 2. The Dallas Morning News brought me on as ‘columnist’ (a revision/expansion of the traditional critic role) and is looking for a full-time staff writer who can do enterprise, business, & investigative reporting on the food industry.” The other opportunity he’s referring to is the editor job at Eater Dallas / Houston, which Amy McCarthy just left to move into a Staff Writer role at Eater. No job posting there yet. Good luck, all!

And last and least: The Bean PR – After Soleil Ho wrote last week about viral Tik Tok pranks centered on calling restaurants and asking if they have beans, someone at Lazy Bear in SF decided the right thing to do would be to let everyone know that that restaurant has also been fielding bean pranks, and got Dave Barzelay to tell the Chronicle’s Elena Kadvany that he loves bean pranks. “He finds the prank calls ‘hilarious.’ ‘If bugging (the restaurant about beans) makes us laugh, then I’m fine with it. That’s the least annoying thing that happens at the restaurant,’ he said.”

So… Congrats to whoever’s answering phones at Lazy Bear this week! The boss loves bean pranks. Hope you do too.

And that’s it for today. Except of course for last Tuesday’s FM, which is copy / pasted below ICYMI.

I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday, and everyone else in one week for next Family Meal. If you’d like to get Tuesday’s on Tuesday…

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or beans to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

Here begins the Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers on Tuesday, October 19th:

Belcampo collapses, Regan moves on, LAT Food still acting, and more...

Hello Tuesday,

And hello to paying subscribers only! If you got this as a forward and wish you were getting Family Meals on Tuesdays too…

Subscribe now

We are dangerously close to Halloween, and somewhere in America, a chef or magazine editor is convincing himself that he’s the guy who can get away with that costume. Be a friend. Tell him no.

Let’s get to it…

The Fallout – Headline in Eater LA: “Farm-to-Fable Meat Merchant Belcampo Is All But Done. Just four months after multiple employees revealed that the sustainable agriculture icon was passing off commodity meat products in place of its own, the company is ‘ending its branded e-commerce, retail, and restaurant operations.’” Maybe too soon to say which straw was last, but per Eater LA’s Matthew Kang: “The Belcampo Meat Company as we know it is done: It has quietly deleted all of its social media accounts; deactivated its OpenTable reservations in LA and the Bay Area; and co-founder Anya Fernald has removed any statement of affiliation with the company from her Instagram profile. Sources close to the company say employees were told via text message that their jobs were terminated today….”

Reminder (in the article): “This past summer, the company suffered a spectacular fall from grace after Evan Reiner, an LA butcher and former Belcampo employee, posted a series of Instagram videos alleging that company was passing off meat from other companies as its own. Multiple employees then described to Eater LA a yearlong pattern of mislabeling meat in at least two locations, during which the stores routinely sold customers cheaper commodity products, including factory farmed meat, in place of its own signature premium cuts — but at the same premium prices.”

Trust is a tough thing to win back! On a totally unrelated note, The Willows Inn on Lummi Island closes for the season on November 21st this year, and it looks like rooms are rare, but there are at least a few tables available right up until they winter-proof the place. Daniela Soto-Innes and whoever runs the Inn’s Instagram are posting happily about ingredients and the farm, but what will the offseason — and the next reservations block release — mean for the limits of food media exposés? Stay tuned (to someone local reporting about it)…

The Departure – In Chicago, “Iliana Regan, the acclaimed chef and owner behind Elizabeth, has officially departed from her Lincoln Square restaurant. Regan, who opened Elizabeth in 2012, has sold the restaurant to Tim Lacey, a longtime collaborator who has operated it since Regan and her wife Anna Hamlin moved to Michigan in 2019 where they own a bed and breakfast called Milkweed Inn that’s sold out through 2022... Lacey and Regan met 15 years ago while the two worked a Trio, the Evanston restaurant where other stars like Gale Gand and Grant Achatz also worked.” Regan told Eater’s Ashok Selvam and Aimee Levitt she and Lacey had been discussing this kind of transition since 2019.

The Media – ATTN restaurant PR and food media freelancers, there are some new editors in town:

At Saveur, Ellen Fort is now Senior Editor for “commerce.” She tweets: “That means I’ll be editing/assigning/writing guides and stories around culinary goods, services, and more. So! Please tell me all your favorite things immediately. And if you're a writer who loves to go deep on products and reviews, please hit me up.”

And in CA, former LA Taco editor Daniel Hernandez announced on Twitter that he is joining the LA Times Food desk as Acting Deputy Editor. He will report to Acting Food Editor Alice Short (who replaced Food Editor Peter Meehan when he resigned under pressure way back in July 2020), and fills a gap left vacant since Andrea Chang was reassigned shortly after Meehan left. In other words, we’re closing in fast on a year and a half of “Acting” editorial leadership in the food section of the top paper in the major American city that very much likes to call itself the greatest food city in the country.

Meanwhile, SF Gate EIC Grant Marek just announced his site is looking for a full-time Food Editor too. If you’re counting, that means Eater SF, the SF Chronicle, and SF Gate are all looking to fill food writing / editing roles right now. Very good news for Bay Area restaurants and food businesses looking to get their stories out there!

For Design Fans – This Rey Lopez photo spread of DC’s new Ilili is the rare night-but-bright dining room pictorial that really helps the colors pop. And, boy, are there colors! Look, I’m not going to pretend doves with energy efficient light bulbs for heads are my style, and as far as I can see, that blue and white floor pattern may start to wear out its visual welcome around square foot number two thousand or so, but... There is something about this place that makes me want to make a reservation for myself and some of Michael Pollan’s new fungi research pals…

And that’s it for today!

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or commodity meat products to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

Beards open, Flay out, Haigh hey!, Brock's Audrey, Saxelby gone, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, October 15th, 2021

Hello Friday,

Let’s get to it…

Beard Season – The 2022 James Beard Awards applications and nominations are officially open! “The deadline for all entries and recommendations will be November 30, 2021 at 11:59 P.M. EST.”

Details, procedures, and applications here.

In maybe the most earth-shattering awards news ever, the “Columns” category is now the “Columns and Newsletters” category. I claim full credit for this change, and ask that this effective activism be taken into account in the judging process. It will certainly be a central theme in my acceptance speech.

Don’t forget: This year, the Beard Foundation says it is “requiring all Awards entrants to provide a short write-up or audio/visual recording to demonstrate that their work aligns with one or more of our values and Awards mission pillars. We encourage entrants to write and speak in their own words in highlighting their commitment to the mission. The statement will be reviewed for content and alignment, and not for language fluency, video quality, or production value… If you are entering on behalf of someone else, please write and/or speak in your own words, how that entrant is aligned with one or more of the values and Awards mission pillars.”

On the media side of things, I asked a Beard spokesperson what they thought of former Awards committee member Hanna Raskin’s recent assertion that having to pledge alignment to “furthering our industry” or anything like that goes against journalism ethics. This was the response:

“The Foundation understands and values the need for journalists to maintain objectivity and independence. By ‘furthering our industry’ we are referring to journalism that seeks to tell a broader story of our industry: covering diverse stories; being inclusive in its scope rather than only looking at one side; challenging the industry to do better in terms of inclusivity; looking deeper into all the people behind our food culture; educating people about different cultures and practices through food. These are examples furthering the industry. We are not asking journalists to skew their narrative, we are encouraging them to broaden it, as the Foundation will continuously strive to do.”

Thoughts?

Oh, and reminder to food media: “For the first two weeks (October 12-26), limited grants will be available to cover the entry fee for those who state a financial need in their application.” Past that deadline, the entry fee is $75, though the New Yorker’s Helen Rosner and Chopped’s Ted Allen might cover you if you’re skint.

Nominating (and self-nominating) chefs and restaurants is free. Good luck, all!

The Word Thief – “The worlds of London food and international cookbooks are rocking after far-reaching allegations of plagiarism by a highly regarded chef. Cookbook publisher Bloomsbury Absolute has withdrawn Makan, the debut cookbook by Mei Mei owner Elizabeth Haigh, after allegations of plagiarism from Sharon Wee, the author of Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen, a cookbook memoir published by Marshall Cavendish in 2012.” James Hansen has a detailed rundown of multiple allegations in Eater London, including Haigh’s apparent plagiarism of Dave Chang collaborator Chris Ying’s You and I Eat the Same. A mess.

The Lists – The team at NYT Food is out with their very own 50 Best list. In this case, it’s alternately titled “America’s Favorite Restaurants” and “The Restaurant List 2021,” and encompasses “The 50 places in America we’re most excited about right now.” Every restaurant on the list gets about a paragraph from an NYT Food writer, and a lot of visual action from the photographers / videographers on the team. Can’t list them all, but congrats to those who made the cut!

The Profile Treatment – Headline in the Washingtonian this month: “Fine-Dining Star Maria Font Trabocchi Is Opening Restaurants in . . . Somalia. The partner in Fiola and Del Mar is running spots on an international base in Mogadishu.” Details via Jessica Sidman: “Trabocchi was approached in February 2019 by Bancroft Global Development, a DC-based NGO and private military contractor that describes itself as ‘managing complex projects in conflict zones.’ Bancroft trains Somali troops fighting extremist group al Shabaab, supports peacekeeping missions, and provides medical care. It operates out of a huge, highly secure base in Mogadishu that regularly hosts diplomats, journalists, and other international travelers. Trabocchi, Bancroft proposed, could help them upgrade the food… The native Spaniard has already boasted on Instagram she might be the first person to bring a leg of high-end Cinco Jotas Ibérico ham to Somalia.”

Tone deaf? Bad ass? Now moving on from private military training bases in Somalia to a hospitality consulting role for Hard Rock Hotel openings around the world? According to the profile, the latter at least!

The Media (Opportunities) – In what sounds like a first(?), DC’s alt-weekly Washington City Paper is hiring a “a freelance carry-out food critic to evaluate and celebrate the District’s rich and historic carry-out culture.” Food editor Laura Hayes says, “one or two reviews per month for a rate of $300 per 800-word review. Meal costs of up to $50 will be reimbursed.” Details here.

In CA, the SF Chronicle is hiring a Wine Reporter who “will work closely with The Chronicle's senior wine critic Esther Mobley and the rest of the Food & Wine team to expand and deepen the newspaper's coverage of the region's one-of-a-kind wine culture.”

And on the trades side of things, Restaurant Hospitality’s Sam Oches tells me his publication “is enhancing its content offerings with more localized and regionalized coverage and is looking for regional contributors.” Email him for more info at sam.oches@informa.com.

Some Sad News – “Anne Saxelby, a pioneer in championing fine American cheeses at a time when cheese lovers largely looked to Europe for such artisanal products, died on Saturday at her home in Brooklyn. She was 40.” Florence Fabricant has a full obituary in the NYT, with cameos from Dan Barber, Rob Kaufelt, and others. For more, Chris Crowley also has an obit in Grubstreet, and Eater NY’s Emma Orlow collected some Instagram tributes to Saxelby too.

And via the AP in the LA Times: “Fuller Goldsmith, Food Network star who competed on ‘Top Chef Junior,’ dead at 17… Though he’d fought back acute lymphoblastic leukemia three times since the age of 3, Fuller succumbed to the disease Tuesday, days short of his 18th birthday.”

For Design Fans – Having a hard time understanding the full scale / style of Nashville’s new Audrey restaurant via either this Eater photospread from Emily Dorio or chef Sean Brock’s own Instagram video tour with designer Katie Vance, but will say that using wall hangings instead of framed art feels like a very smart move in a lot of muted spaces, and this is one of them. And re that video tour: Did you know that someone somewhere sells all-in-one pendant lights / speakers / herb dryers? I did not, but Christmas is coming and I am willing to share my address if you need it for shipping (not billing).

And last but not least: The 100 Million Dollar Man – “[Last] Friday, news broke that [Bobby Flay], 56, would be parting ways with the [Food Network] once his current three-year contract expires at the end of this year.” Now, People Magazine’s Dave Quinn reports, “According to an insider, Flay had been in negotiations… and was seeking a deal that would be above Guy Fieri's recent $80 million contract (which reportedly made the Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives host the highest-paid chef on cable TV). ‘Bobby wanted a contract in the ballpark of $100 million,’ the source says.”

OK, so he’s walked away. Where will Bobby Flay get more pay? Hard to say. But….

That’s it for today.

I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal. If you love Family Meal and want to get it twice a week like the cool kids do…

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a contract in the ballpark of $100 million to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

Noma (original location), Beards (original sins), Paley's Place (closing), Gigs (regulated), Miami (no discount), and more...

Family Meal - Friday, October 8th, 2021

Hello Friday,

An unexpectedly wordy one today, which is hopefully OK because we’re heading into a three day weekend and there will be no Family Meal on Tuesday.

This past Tuesday’s Family Meal is copy / pasted below as usual for non-paying subscribers. If you’re one of those and you have the means…

Let’s get to it…

Awards Season – To no one’s surprise, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Sponsored by Water named Noma number one on their big list this week, with fellow Copenhagen spot Geranium taking second, and the rest of the top 10 in order from three to 10 looking like: Asador Etxebarri (Spain); Central (Lima); Disfrutar (Spain); Frantzén (Sweden); Maido (Peru); Odette (Singapore); Pujol (Mexico); and The Chairman (Hong Kong).

In the US, Cosme (NYC) came in at 22, Benu (SF) at 28, Single Thread (Healdsburg) at 37, Atomix (NYC) at 43, Le Bernadin (NYC) at 44, and Atelier Crenn (SF) at 48. Dominique Crenn also won the “Icon” award.

If you’ve been following criticism of the list’s composition over the years, you will note that nothing has changed. It’s still laser-focused on restaurants in Europe (over half), restaurants that cook European food (33 of the 50, I think?), and restaurants led by “western” chefs (a lot). Nothing in India made the list, Africa’s toehold is 50th (last) place, the new 50 Best MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region came up empty handed, and mainland China is represented only by French digital projector enthusiast Paul Pairet. The “World’s Best Female Chef,” Pia Leon, doesn’t have a solo project on the list. CNBC’s Shubangi Goel has a decent breakdown here.

Reminder: Per the rules, having been crowned number one, Noma will now be removed from contention for future 50 Best lists and retired to a separate “Best of the Best” category with past number ones El Bulli, The French Laundry, The Fat Duck, El Cellar de Can Roca, Osteria Francescana, Eleven Madison Park, and, of course, “Noma (original location)”.

Noma’s Rene Redzepi told Lisa Abend two years ago that he was opposed to the Best of the Best concept, but now he’s the only chef with two restaurants in that category, so… sorry for your loss, Rene.

And if you’re still confused about why “Noma (original location)” and “Noma (current location)” count as two totally different restaurants and can therefore each top the list separately, here’s what 50 Best’s William Drew told me back in 2019:

“We looked at whether it had a new name; Noma doesn’t. Whether it had a new chef; this one doesn’t. Whether it had a new concept, and whether it had been closed for a significant period between the two.’ He said simply moving a restaurant wouldn’t work, but, ‘with Noma, it was such a fundamental reinvention. The whole idea is completely different.’”

Got it? Good.

If you ask me, “Two East Twenty-Fourth” has big EMP 2.0 vibes, Mr. Humm.

Awards Season Too – For a deeper dive into awards processes and problems, Hanna Raskin’s new Food Section newsletter goes “Into the awards void” this week. The former Southeast region rep for the James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Committee is very skeptical that the Beards new(ish) “social justice focus” will do much to solve the problems it’s trying to address, especially when it comes to geographic diversity.

First, she asks, “How expensive is the fight for social justice?” If a small restaurant sponsors a youth soccer team in the rural South, will it get the same plaudits as an NYC group that raises millions for charity (or “mutual aid”)?

Second, the Beards’ requirement for written / video statements disadvantages those who aren’t polished or can’t pay for (PR) polishing. (And if media are required to sign or make pledges, is it ethical for journalists to even apply?)

Third, it’s just plain easier to meet sustainability requirements and publicly promote social justice issues in some places than others. There’s a big difference in the effort it takes to reduce food waste “in a place where city vehicles swing by for compost pickup, as opposed to [those where you have to pay] a private company to pick them up,” and while “in a perfect world, nobody would hesitate to post a Black Lives Matter sign… solidarity requires acknowledging the legitimate reasons why, in this world, somebody might.”

Also includes a bonus defense of awards in general. Well worth your time, in this world.

The Gigs – In CA, “Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 286 into law on Tuesday. The bill, which takes effect on Jan. 1, requires delivery companies to disclose an itemized cost breakdown of every transaction to restaurants and their customers. It also bans these companies from charging customers more than the prices restaurants list on the apps… The full amount of tips for for delivery orders must go to the person making the delivery, and tips on pickup orders must go to the food facility.” Details via Elena Kadvany in the SF Chronicle.

Meanwhile, in NY, “New York City agreed not to enforce a new law requiring food-delivery services to share customer information with restaurants while a legal challenge from DoorDash Inc. plays out in court… DoorDash claims the law, which requires delivery companies to share with requesting restaurants the names, phone numbers and email addresses of customers who’ve ordered their food, violates its customers’ privacy.” Chris Dolmetsch has more in Fortune.

The Gigs Too – Diving deeper into “The Fight to Rein in Delivery Apps” in the New Yorker, Helen Rosner has an excellent interview with “Moe Tkacik, a former journalist who now works on delivery-app regulation.” It includes reference to this gem of an old comment from Collin Wallace that I hadn’t seen before: “I was the former Head of Innovation at Grubhub... Sadly, I invented a lot of the food delivery technologies that are now being used for evil. … COVID-19 is exposing the fact that delivery platforms are not actually in the business of delivery. They are in the business of finance. In many ways, they are like payday lenders for restaurants and drivers. They give you the sensation of cash-flow, but at the expense of your long term future and financial stability. Once you ‘take out this loan’ you will never pay it back and it will ultimately kill your business.”

Probably fair to add: Depending on your business model. If that’s comforting?

Anniversary Season – The SF Chronicle team is out with their big package on the 50th anniversary of Chez Panisse. It’s got reader memories, critic memories, questions about the future, alumni tributes, sci-fi about the future, photos, recipes, and more, all collected here for ease of navigation. (I’m a softy, but my favorite photo is probably Alice Waters’s daughter Fanny Singer, passed out in a mixing bowl in front of massive slabs of beef and what I think is a trash can full of lobsters(?).)

That Miami Money – If you’ve been eyeing the energy in Miami for a new location, check out this (obnoxiously undated) Zagat piece from Chris Mohney: “What It’s Like Renting A Restaurant In Miami Right Now.” Sample quote among a ton of numbers and details (from people with agendas, but still): “‘I’ve never seen Miami with no second-generation restaurant inventory,’ [F&B broker Felix Bendersky] laments. ‘Every broker, if you go on Facebook chats, is asking for the same thing. “Does anybody have a second generation, 1,000 to 1,500 square feet with a hood, with an updated grease trap?” That’s like saying, “Hey, have you seen my unicorn lately?”’”

The End of an Era – In Portland, OR, “After 26 years in Northwest Portland, Vitaly and Kimberly Paley plan to close their award-winning restaurant Paley’s Place and retire after Thanksgiving service, the couple told The Oregonian exclusively Monday.” That scoop is behind the paywall, but a follow up from Brooke Jackson-Glidden on Eater Portland is free for all: “It’s hard to overstate the impact Paley’s Place had on the local dining scene. Famous Portland chefs often spent at least some time in the Paley’s Place kitchen, be it Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon), Kristen Murray (Maurice), or Ben Bettinger (Laurelhurst Market). Vitaly Paley championed the use of local mushrooms… and Oregon coast seafood, and also brought a style of French cooking to Portland that remains some of the city’s best... Kimberly Paley performed a style of service… that eventually became the norm at Portland’s fine dining restaurants.”

The Media (Opportunities) – FYI: “The Post and Courier is looking for a writer to cover the robust food scene for its Free Times entertainment publication in Columbia, South Carolina.” Plus, Eater Seattle is looking for a full-time editor, and Eater SF is looking for part-time reporter.

I would do the latter, but it will probably conflict with the SF Chronicle critic job I expect to be offered yesterday.

And that’s it for today! Except of course for Tuesday’s Family Meal, which is copy / pasted below for those who missed it.

If I don’t get swallowed up by these rains, I will see everyone back here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or 1,000 to 1,500 square feet with a hood, with an updated grease trap to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

Here begins Family Meal from Tuesday, October 8th, 2021. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays from now on…

Google up, Sheldon down, Andrés JAM-on, Stewart to the strip, and more...

Hello Tuesday,

The view from here: Restaurants in Hong Kong are getting temporarily shut down left and right for social distancing infractions. A row of bars and restaurants near my house was almost entirely ordered dark after 6PM for two weeks recently, which is rough considering most residents are all but banned from leaving (21 day self-paid hotel quarantine on return!) no tourists are allowed to come in, and there have been no local COVID cases in I don’t know how many days. Or is it months?

Life in this COVID-free bubble still has lots of rules.

Let’s get to it…

The Fallout – Per Janelle Bitker in the SF Chronicle, “Lowell Sheldon, the Sebastopol restaurateur recently accused of sexual harassment and creating a toxic work environment, is no longer an owner of any of the Wine Country restaurants he founded.” Worth noting again that the exposé that finally pushed Sheldon out came two years after the group says it conducted an internal investigation, suspended Sheldon, and eventually removed him from day to day operations…

The Keymasters – “Virtual restaurant company Kitchen United announced Monday the acquisition of ghost kitchen developer Zuul for an undisclosed amount. This is Kitchen United’s first acquisition and will support the company’s ghost kitchen network growth in New York City.” Details via Joanna Fantozzi in Restaurant Hospitality.

Reminder: Two of Kitchen United’s three funding rounds were led by GV, the investment arm of Alphabet Inc. formerly known as Google Ventures. Does that mean Google has a stake in placing Kitchen United restaurant options above yours in “delivery nearby” search results? Well, that’s almost exactly the kind of behavior that led the EU to fine the company 2.4 Billion Euros a few years ago, but I’m sure Google has learned its lesson.

Big tech companies always learn their lessons.

The New Media – “José Andrés… the owner of ThinkFoodGroup… has launched José Andrés Media, a company that will produce unscripted and scripted television series, books, podcasts, and digital short- and mid-form content with a focus on food-related stories and characters, and the culture of food.” According to Variety’s Brian Steinberg: “The outlet’s first project will be a six-episode series produced in association with documentary production company Nutopia that is set in Spain and currently being developed for Discovery Plus…. Sam Bakhshandehpour, the president of ThinkFoodGroup, will serve as president of José Andrés Media. Richard Wolffe, a journalist, author and former MSNBC executive who is co-author of Andrés’ cookbooks, will serve as the company’s managing director.”

Sounds like their next hire should be some kinda cool, creative outsider…

The Media Moves – Sorry, just found this stuck in my outbox from two weeks ago! (I send emails to myself as part of a proprietary media filing system I call “Gmail Search Will Save Me Later.”) So… ICYMI, back on September 21st, NYT Food editors Emily Weinstein, Patrick Farrell and Sam Sifton were “happy to announce that Yewande KomolafeGenevieve Ko and Eric Kim will become cooking columnists for The Times. Yewande and Genevieve’s columns will appear monthly in the Food section... Eric, who has done fabulous work filling in on the Eat column for The New York Times Magazine, will officially join the monthly rotation there.”

Asked if the Times has considered pulling a reverse-Substack and poaching Family Meal from the clutches of food newsletter stardom, Sifton (as far as you know) pulled out a cross between a floodlight and a condenser mic and began crooning In Dreams. Weird dude.

The Media Opportunity – FYI, MI: Eater Detroit has partnered with “the Race and Justice Reporting Initiative / Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL)… to support independent journalists of color to cover equity and justice issues in Detroit’s restaurant industry.” Together they’re putting out a “Call for Pitches: Eater Seeks Stories About Equity and Justice in Detroit’s Restaurant Industry.”

And FYI, MN: “Eater is looking for an experienced reporter and editor to oversee Eater Twin Cities, one of its marquee publications.” Listing here. The fine print: “This is a permanent, part-time position.”

And last but not least: The Big Deals – I don’t usually include “coming soon” projects, but had to note this: “Martha Stewart’s First Las Vegas Restaurant Is Coming to the Strip in 2022.” Per Eater Vegas’s Bradley Martin, “Now confirmed by a construction permit filing, celebrity entrepreneur, TV personality, and culinary tutor Martha Stewart will debut her first restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip at Paris Las Vegas sometime in 2022.”

Personally, I think a unique challenge for the design team would be to only use the patterns and materials showcased in 1984’s Martha Stewart’s Hors D’Oeuvers. But maybe you’re not up to a challenge, Martha? Backyardheritagechickensayswhat?

And that’s it for today.

Wanted to add a brief review of the new Dave Chang Hulu show here, but my FoodFilm pass expired before I could get to episode two, “Restaurants.” The description reads: “COVID accelerated an upheaval that was a long time coming for the restaurant industry. So what comes next? And will the future be more equitable for all? Featuring: Kwame Onwuachi, Helen Rosner, Corey Lee.”

Will the Good Eats-esque talking microwave device that taught me about sushi in episode one also fill me with hope for the future of an entire industry?

Stay tuned.

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a construction permit filing, celebrity entrepreneur, TV personality, and culinary tutor to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

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