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Family Meal - Friday, July 7th, 2023
And hello again from the beautiful Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., which will be a home base for the next two weeks or so before we head back to HK.
If a man with three kids walks into your restaurant struggling to keep hold of his personal widening gyre, please, be kind. He usually tips OK.
Let’s get to it…
The Suits – “DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub sued New York City on Thursday to block a new law that sets minimum wages for food-delivery workers, escalating a battle between the apps and the city over how the industry should be regulated… Starting July 12, the law requires that the companies either pay workers around 50 cents for every minute they spend on a trip, or pay them a minimum of $17.96 an hour for the time they spend active on each app. The latter works out to around 30 cents a minute. Both rates exclude tips.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Preetika Rana reports the companies are at least partly concerned that this minute by minute rate applies to not only time making deliveries, but also time spent looking at orders on the app, and that’s a problem because the workers are contractors and not exclusive to any one app, so could theoretically be being paid by multiple companies at the same time while they look at various apps to find orders.
Oof. I understand some workers want the flexibility, but maybe one solution would be to make them exclusive contractors? What do they call an arrangement like that again? Employment?
The Suits Too – Per Cindy Carcamo in the LA Times, “Nearly two weeks after former servers at Jon & Vinny’s filed a class-action lawsuit… alleging that the establishment violated California gratuity laws, the restaurant changed the language tacked on to the end of customer bills regarding its 18% service fee. At the bottom of customers’ checks, it now reads: ‘The service charge is not a tip or gratuity, and is an added fee controlled by the restaurant that helps facilitate a higher living base wage for all of our employees. Please scan the QR Code at the top of the receipt for additional information, or speak with a manager.’”
Congrats to the managers, who now get to try to explain why the QR page says this: “At its core, the service charge is about driving change in our industry… in a way that uniformly increasing our food prices doesn’t allow for.”
Instead of: “Prices? You want prices? You can’t handle true prices. You can’t handle true prices because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want this to feel cheaper. You need this to feel cheaper. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to defend this fee to a guest who orders and eats under the comfort of the very costs I obscure, and then questions the manner in which I obscure them. I would rather that you just said, ‘Thank you,’ and went on your way.”
The (afterlife of the) Critics – After budget cuts at Vox left Eater NY’s Ryan Sutton out of a job a few months ago, he spent a bit of time regrouping before… launching a Substack! “The LO Times, your guide to living and eating well during this tumultuous era of ups and downs — during these ‘Laid Off Times.’” Sutton says he’ll be focused on NYC, doing lists, price alerts, and restaurant reviews, the latter of which will often be based on one time visits instead of the usual three. Budgets, man.
And last but not least: The Race Beyond Impossible – Dueling headlines this Fourth of July weekend:
In NRN via Joanna Fantozzi: “Cell-cultivated chicken was served for the first time in a [US] restaurant this weekend. Upside Foods partnered with chef Dominique Crenn to serve cultivated chicken at Bar Crenn.”
Luddites, to the labs!
And that’s it for today. We’re off to Sugarloaf Mountain, MD for a family reunion of sorts this weekend. If you know good places nearby for chaotic packs of feral children, please lmk…
Oh, and Substack automatically unpaused paying subscriptions this week, so… I’m going to try to get back to usual, see paying subscribers back here on Tuesday, and see everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal.
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