CA winds, DiSpirito tells most, Sweetgreen 3.0, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
Let’s get to it…
First, the flames – I can’t pretend to keep you (or me) up to date on everything happening with the fires out west, but both the LA Times and SF Chronicle have basically live coverage alongside useful maps, and Wine Spectator’s Tim Fish, MaryAnn Worobiec, Mitch Frank, Augustus Weed, and Aaron Romano also appear to be regularly adding vineyard news to this story on the Soda Rock and Field Stone wineries (both of which have burned).
In Northern CA, where Healdsburg and other cities have been evacuated, electric utility PG&E has released a schedule / map for more preventative power outages starting today, embedded here on SF Gate, where Alix Martichoux reports, “The first customers to lose power Tuesday morning will be in the North Valley, North Bay and Sierra Foothills, followed by those in the southern Sierra foothills Tuesday afternoon, Kern County Tuesday evening, and the greater Bay Area early Wednesday morning.” After that, there could still be days of double-checking and repairs before mains come back online.
Meanwhile, near LA, the Getty Fire that started yesterday has closed the 405 exits between the 101 and Sunset Blvd, and forced evacuations of at least 10k buildings. The LA Times reporting team of Hannah Fry, Brittny Mejia, Matthew Ormseth, Louis Sahagun, and Ruben Vives have updates here. “The evacuation zone, which was described by fire officials as a box — Mulholland Drive on the north side, the 405 on the east, Sunset Boulevard on the south and Temescal Canyon Road on the west — remains in place.”
Good luck, and stay safe, all!
Le Lazarus – In Chicago, “Ambria, the iconic French restaurant that closed in 2007 after a 27-year run, is coming back. In a historic partnership between Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and The Alinea Group, Ambria will re-open next year in its original home within the Belden-Stratford building…. ‘There’s a lot of followup questions, and I don’t have a lot of answers,’ said [LEYE president] RJ Melman. ‘But I’m super excited.’” Super. Phil Vettel has available details in the Tribune.
The Profile Treatment – Food & Wine editor Kat Kinsman is out this week with a profile she says has been 15 years in the making. It begins with Rocco DiSpirito (indirectly) breaking up her relationship with her then boyfriend (not Rocco) back in 2004, and ends with the chef leaving The Standard Grill last week. Among many other details from the intervening years, Kinsman says, “What you won't see in those newspaper and magazine archives are images of Rocco DiSpirito in a wheelchair, immobile in his home, or in physical therapy while he learned to walk again. In the course of his mother's illness, as often happens to caretakers, DiSpirito neglected his own needs. He'd suffered from back issues his whole life—surely exacerbated by the physical toll all chefs accept as part of the job—and couldn't find time for his own doctor's appointments. Two years after [his mother] Nicolina's death, his bill came due… The emergency diskectomy—a kind of spinal surgery—for his acute sciatica was something DiSpirito had dreaded for his entire adult life, and it left him as an invalid for a time.”
That Fast Casual $$$ – Big shout out to Sweetgreen for inventing a new style of restaurant where you order at a counter, wait for your food, and then have someone hand it to you . Per Eater NY’s Serena Dai, Sweetgreen, “opened its big new experimental location today in Manhattan — with the most notable change being that there’s no more assembly line salad making in front of customers. The outpost… instead has staffers standing at wooden podiums to take orders via tablet, which then sends the orders to a kitchen. Sweetgreen’s calling it ‘concierge ordering,’ though really, it’s not that different from the way that people order food at McDonald’s and other mainstream fast food chains.”
P.S. – Design fans can get a look at photos of the new space, complete with stadium seating (thanks, I hate it) via the web address embedded underneath these very words. It’s a new way to get you from here to the site you want to visit and I’m calling it “chauffeur linking.” You’re welcome.
That Delivery $$$ – Although the rest of their business model is solid as a rock and definitely doesn’t require any other revenue streams to prop it up, UberEats is trialing a new service allowing customers to buy “experiences” this month. Forbes’s Biz Carson says, “In an email sent to San Francisco customers, Uber said customers could book Uber Moments for the next month, scheduled until November 17. The ‘Moments’ Uber offered include the option to book a $75 class on making Chinese dumplings and a $55 five-course Nigerian dinner.” (Looking forward to meeting the pajama-clad use-case who opens up UberEats for Friday night delivery and thinks, “Wow, I should also do a dumpling class with strangers this Sunday!”)
And last but not least, That Festival $$$ – After Hannah Raskin’s great upscale food festival breakdown in the LA Times earlier this month, Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes had a long look at the economics – and risks – of more local food fests in Washington City Paper last week. There are some interesting numbers in there, but it all starts with this devastating lede: “Aviva Copaken just wants some damn mac and cheese, and Kraft won’t cut it. She’s tried to attend three mac and cheese festivals in 2019. All three were cancelled.” Send Aviva some damn mac and cheese, people!
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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