Biden's Bs, Chicago's caps, USHG's influence, LA's orders, Shanti's moves, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
And hello, all! Tuesday Family Meals are usually reserved for paying subscribers, but I’m sending this one out to everyone because there will be no Friday edition this week.
I hate to leave you all on this wonky, relief and shutdown-focused note before the holiday, but here we are.
Let’s get to it…
The Relief – Update from Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane in the NYT on Sunday: “Advisers to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr…. are pushing for Democratic leaders in Congress to reach a quick stimulus deal with Senate Republicans, even if it falls short of the larger package Democrats have been seeking… That could mean moving at least part of the way toward Mr. McConnell’s offer of a $500 billion package. But top Democrats remain publicly adamant that Republicans need to move closer to their opening offer of $2.4 trillion. Mr. Biden, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer have given no public indication of how much they are willing to scale back their ambitions in order to reach a deal.”
NB: McConnell’s $500B starting point does not include $120B for the RESTAURANTS Act, and it’s unclear where that money falls in order of priority on the Dem side of these negotiations.
“Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who was part of Mr. Biden’s inner circle of economic aides in the campaign, said that ‘speed, size and composition are all important’ in a stimulus agreement, ‘but speed is especially important.’”
Great. Unfortunately for restaurants, speed probably means Band-Aid, and there’s a good chance it’ll be a novelty Band-Aid that reads: “Mission Accomplished. No Need To Spend More Anytime Soon!” in Comic Sans.
P.S. – Some in the White House-elect are apparently disputing the NYT report. Yesterday, WaPo’s Jeff Stein reported spokesperson Andrew Bates told him Biden supports Pelosi and Schumer in their push for a bigger package. We shall see.
The Relief Too – Per Eater’s Ashok Selvam, “Chicago’s city council on Monday finally approved a 15 percent fee cap for what third party delivery companies — like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats — can charge restaurants. Chicago’s new limit goes into effect immediately and matches the limits lawmakers in large cities like San Francisco and New York adopted earlier this year.”
The Bellwether – In Eater NY, Tanay Warerkar reports: “Restaurateur Danny Meyer announced in an email Friday that Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and Blue Smoke at Battery Park City — all part of the Union Square Hospitality Group family — would close for on-premises dining [through the end of the year].” Whatever you think of Meyer’s business (and personnel) moves during this past year, I distinctly remember hearing Cleveland chef Brett Sawyer (The Plum, Good Company) talking to Nick Jiménez on Miami’s Pan Con Podcast back in April saying (around the 6:50 minute mark) that his group didn’t see the full COVID threat until they saw Meyer and David Chang shut down their shops voluntarily. “We were like, ‘Oh shit. Maybe this is a little bit more serious.’” Remember March?
The Panic Button – Here in late November, while it seems like every county in America is either implementing or considering new indoor dining shutdowns, the LA Times’s Alex Wigglesworth, Matt Hamilton, and Jenn Harris report: “In a devastating blow to Los Angeles’ struggling restaurant and hospitality industry, L.A. County public health officials on Sunday announced they will suspend outdoor dining at restaurants amid a surge of new coronavirus cases… The new rule takes effect at 10 p.m. Wednesday and restricts restaurants — along with breweries, wineries and bars — to takeout and delivery only for the first time since May. It will remain in place for at least three weeks.”
Google tells me that a week from today, LA will be partly cloudy, with a high of 75.
I see a lot of industry people online debating what, if any, evidence backs up restricting dining out at all, but feel like those of you pointing to lack of data will be hard pressed to argue (effectively) against what a lot of people see as common sense (at least on the indoor side of things). As Matthew Kang reports in Eater LA, “Ultimately, [LA Dept of Health Director Barbara Ferrer] is basing the decision to close on-premise dining because it naturally reduces the number of interactions people of different households will have in person without masks.”
Some Perspective: LA County had about 4,600 new COVID cases on Monday, in a population of around 10M. Hong Kong had 83 new cases today in a population of around 7.5M. HK reduced max table size (indoor and out) from six to four a few days ago, and will now close bars and nightclubs to battle this wave.
The Move – Headline in the Asheville Citizen Times: “Ashleigh Shanti steps down from Benne on Eagle with plans to create restaurant group.” Details via Mackensy Lunsford. Shanti cites a desire for ownership as her motivating factor (and she’s been getting great national press for a while now, so if you’ve got the 49 percent to her 51...). Sous chef Malcolm McMillian has been promoted to chef de cuisine. Good luck, all!
And good luck, all!
Wish I had more humor and hope to include today, but honestly, this has been a tough news cycle to say the least. Wherever — and however — you are, know that you’ve got a friend in Hong Kong wishing you the happiest Thanksgiving possible. No, happier.
I’ll take comfort in the (aggressive) assumption you’re doing the same for me, and I’ll see you here next week for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or the larger package Democrats have been seeking 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!
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