50 Best inbound, S&V out of bounds, Philly past, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, July 15th, 2022
Here in Washington, DC, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Which is annoying as hell because I got up at like 4am to write this thing and just like on Tuesday — that paid edition is copy/pasted below as usual — I am not having much luck finding enough news to fill it up.
Have we officially hit the dog days of restaurant news summer? Welp. No matter how many times I refresh the page, the top story on Chronicle Food this morning is still a breakdown of the city’s rankings on OpenTable’s national “top 100” list.
Let’s get to it…
The Tease – Michelin is doing that “here are some new restaurants that will definitely be in the next guide at some level” teaser thing again, this time in NYC, where 25 new potential Stars, Bibs, and Plates were announced yesterday. Full list here. Good luck, all!
The Reveal – Reminder for those who care about / love schadenfreude re / made a business plan depending on The 50 Best Restaurant Awards Sponsored by Water: The big top 50 reveal is set for Monday in London. Speeches start at 3:30PM East Coast time in the US. Details on schedule and streaming here. Good luck, all!
Side note: When I went to the awards in 2019 in Singapore, José Andrés was there to give a talk, and wandered the pre-show lobby relatively unnoticed. Almost no non-Americans knew who he was. Guessing that will be different if he shows up this year? If you’re there and he’s there, lmk!
The Accused – Headline in NYPost: “NYC’s ‘Mayor of Little Tokyo’ accused of sexually assaulting company exec in bombshell $95M lawsuit.” Details of the alleged incident from reporter Priscilla DeGregory do not make for an enjoyable read(!), but if you do try to make your way through it, please stick around for the third to last paragraph for a VERY forceful, EXTRA classy denial from defendant Shuji Bon Yagi’s lawyer.
The Settled – Also in NYC, “Sweet & Vicious, a downtown Manhattan bar and restaurant popular for its ‘jargaritas’ — frozen margaritas served in giant Mason jars — has been a nest of sexual, racial and gender-based harassment where workers endured racial slurs, had tips taken by the management and went unpaid for work, according to a 16-month investigation by Letitia James, the New York State attorney general… The owner, Hakan Karamahmutoglu, will pay $500,000 to be split among at least 16 employees.”
Allegations, as detailed by Kim Severson in the NYT hit all the harassment highlights, but if I’m in management, I’m feeling especially warned by this part: “The investigation began in early 2021 after several women who worked at the bar banded together and spoke with a lawyer, who directed them to the attorney general’s office... ‘We basically didn’t know that someone at that level of power would put a spotlight on these things that happen every day in the hospitality industry,’ [one employee] said in an interview.’” I’m also surprised this went to the AG before it went to the media?
And if you’re thinking, “A 16-month state-level investigation, a $500k settlement, and a mention in the AG’s press conference over this?” You might want to double check your “HR systems”….
The Media (Opportunity) – Bon Appétit is looking for a Staff Writer, and in reading their chest thumping company profile, I didn’t realize people sometimes referred to Epicurious as “Epi”? Neat.
The Gone But Not Forgotten – Yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer launched what aims to be a series of long profiles on the now closed restaurants that helped shape the city in some way. First up (behind the paywall) from Michael Klein: Zanzibar Blue, “Ground zero for Philly’s upscale jazz scene.” ATTN PR: The piece shouts out all the founder’s new (currently open) places, and says: “Would you like us to remember a now-closed restaurant? Tell us about your favorite and we’ll consider it for a future column.”
And last and least – OK… I admit it. It actually is kind of fun to scroll through the OpenTable top 100 list. Two reasons: First, if you come from anywhere other than one of the always-in-food-media US cities, you might find a wildcard hometown blast from the past in there (for me it’s Annie Gunn’s in St. Louis, one of those places I’ve never been to, but know). And second, the list is so national-media agnostic that it’s full of places I definitely don’t know, like the Fat Canary in colonial Williamsburg? Which has a five star rating and nearly 4400 reviews? And is named for a poem by an old-timer named John Lyly, who, after wishing “Oh, for a bowl of fat canary” drops this spectacular line: “Oh, for a wench (I deal in faces, And in other daintier things)”?
It’s like they say, you learn something new everyday in Colonial Williamsburg.
And that’s it for today! Except of course for Tuesday’s very brief paid version, which is copy/pasted below as usual. If you’re a free subscriber and would like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too…
I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday, and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or faces and other daintier things to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!
Here begins the Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022:
Extortion and only extortion…
And hello from the beautiful little neighborhood of Bloomingdale, in Washington, DC. We were supposed to be in San Francisco today, but our hosts there got COVID, so after 19 hours on planes on Sunday, we woke the kids up early Monday for six more hours of staring at screens in the sky.
The unplanned travel has thrown my reading and writing schedule for a loop, but I did plunk down for Internet on the plane to see what was going on in the restaurant industry, and… really only found one solid Family Meal story. Everywhere.
Let’s get to it…
The Extortion – Headlines around the internet this week:
And many more, including what I think may have been the first — in Eater Chicago: “Internet Scammers Unleash a Deluge of One-Star Reviews on a Chicago Vietnamese Restaurant.”
In other words, if this is happening to you, you are not alone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help much and per the NYT’s Christina Morales the advice for dealing with this doesn’t sound very promising: “Law enforcement officials have urged restaurant owners to contact Google if they’ve been targeted, and to report these crimes to their local police departments, as well as the F.B.I. and the Federal Trade Commission. The commission advises businesses not to pay the scammers.” Tellingly, there is no link for “contact Google.”
So… Good luck! Honestly, this feels less like a case for law enforcement, and more like something the TikTok brigades or BTS Army should handle…
And that’s it for today?
I’ll get over the jet lag, get our household affairs in order, and see everyone here on Friday for next Family Meal. If you’re in DC and know where I should be going or who I should be talking to, please keep those recommendations coming! We lived here for seven years before moving to HK, so I’m reasonably plugged in, but… apparently things keep moving when I’m not around? Bizarre.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or basically extortion to email@example.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!