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Delivery numbers, Little gone, Robs out, Servies!, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, August 5th, 2022
And good morning from beautiful St. Louis, Missouri, where the Midwestern thunderstorms are as glorious as ever (except when they’re flooding everything), the food at Vicia was fantastic last night, and my kids have no idea they will soon be tasting individual (all sides crust!) gooey butter cakes from Missouri Baking Company. Those lucky little innocents.
Tuesday’s paid edition is copy / pasted below as usual. Today’s is brief, app-y, and New York-y.
Let’s get to it…
The Delivery Wars – Amsterdam-based parent company “Just Eat Takeaway wrote down the value of its US-based Grubhub unit by 3 billion euros ($3.1 billion) amid plunging stock market valuations and rising interest rates, a sign of the difficulty facing the business after it was acquired for about $7.3 billion last year.” That’s… unexpected, but brutal. And the details from Bloomberg’s Ivan Levingston don’t get much better (sales growth not great, and total orders down almost 7% year on year).
Meanwhile, Expedite’s Kristen Hawley has an excellent rundown of all the other delivery app wheeling and dealing in her newsletter this week, including: “Uber reported quarterly earnings on Tuesday morning, and the company is free cash flow positive for the first time ever. That means it still has money in the bank after it pays for its operations.” Plus, Uber is also trying to offload a foreign acquisition: Zomato, the Indian food delivery company. (EDIT: Hawley writes to remind readers that Uber only had a 7.8% stake in Zomato, so it’s not like they were selling off an entire company.)
And DoorDash’s second-quarter earnings also came in yesterday evening, with CNBC’s Ashley Capoot reporting revenue grew 30% year on year (beating expectations) and total orders were up 23%. DoorDash stock jumped 18% on the news.
The End of an Era – In NYC, 25 years in, “Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s acclaimed [Soho Hotel] restaurant Mercer Kitchen is closing at the end of this year, the chef confirms.” Per Eater NY’s Erika Adams and Melissa McCart, “Multiple sources say that a restaurant from the nightlife veteran behind Zero Bond, Scott Sartiano — who more recently became a partner in the hotel — will replace Mercer Kitchen.”
Some Sad News – In London, “Chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Alastair Little has died at 72. Dubbed the ‘grandfather of modern British cooking,’ he was, is, and will remain one of the most influential chefs in the history of British food.” Relatable note from James Hansen’s tribute in Eater: “Though Little’s early fame did result in TV appearances, he never truly became a culinary household name despite the import of his restaurants and philosophy. It was the ingredients and suppliers that he treasured: he repeatedly described services as turgid, rough, unpleasant affairs he would have avoided if he could have helped it.”
And in El Paso, “Maynard Haddad, longtime owner of the former H&H Coffee Shop, died Friday. He was 88. Haddad, his restaurant and car wash at 701 Yandell Drive were icons in El Paso…. The coffee shop, known for its picadillo burritos and chile rellenos, was open for 63 years.” Maria Cortes Gonzalez has an obit in the El Paso Times. (Non- El Pasoans may remember Haddad from his feature on Padma Lakshmi’s Taste The Nation, wherein he holds Laksmi’s hand while telling her he supports Trump. Cue cutaway to I disagree with this elder look…)
The Media / The Robs – Per Erika Adams in Eater, on top of Grub Street critic Adam Platt’s recent departure, New York “magazine has confirmed that two other longtime veterans, food editors Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, have left their positions after 32 years.” The all-staff goodbye memo from EIC David Haskell (included in the Eater story) calls the Robs “New York legend.” Brooks Headley calls them, “Badass.” The Robs… declined to comment.
And Last and Least: The Servies – Everyone’s favorite restaurant review site, Yelp, is launching it’s very own awards! Sponsored(!) by Snibbs (Shoes For All Day Comfort) and, obviously, The Texas Restaurant Association, Yelp says The Servies are “the first-ever awards solely dedicated to front-of-house staff. Finally, the hard-working folks who pour, serve, seat and greet are getting the recognition they deserve.”
Ah, yes. Finally, workers occasionally subjected to the condescending behavior of guests and contemporaries will now be able to hold their heads high and show everyone their miniature statuette of a golden cartoon finger balancing three trays, saying proudly:
“It’s a Servie! You know, a Servie. From Yelp!”
And that’s it for today! Except of course for Tuesday’s paid version, which is copy / pasted below as usual.
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 New York legend 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!
Here begins the Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers on Tuesday, August 2nd. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too…
Hot kitchens, Top Chefs, Meyer moves, and more...
Hello Paying Subscribers,
And hello August, where the zeitgeist is all hot, hot heat. Food desks at both the NYT and WaPo are running stories on kitchen temps this week, with the latter’s Tim Carman focused on whether potential new federal worker protection rules could help — “Last year, the Biden administration laid the groundwork to begin the process for writing [temperature] rules for both indoor and outdoor workers.” — and the former’s Victoria Peterson worried specifically about restaurants in the Pacific Northwest: “Punishing heat has owners closing early, canceling outdoor dining and wondering about their future in a region where air-conditioning is not the norm.”
Oh, and it looks like Tales of the Cocktail is emailing attendees to let them know they might have COVID, because COVID attended the event. So COVID is still part of the zeitgeist too, apparently.
Here in St Louis, we are settling into my folks’ house for the next ten days after two and a half years of grandparent – grandchild separation. If you have you have STL recommendations, please send my way! So far the kids give rave reviews to the arcade selection at Blueberry Hill.
A slow news weekend and a busy family weekend have combined for just two quick items today (beyond the heat and the COVID), so…
Let’s get to it…
The Handover – More of a plodding corporate succession plan than a seismic end of era, but: “Danny Meyer, CEO and founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, is stepping down from his role, effective Sept 6. Meyer’s replacement as CEO… will be current COO and president of the company, Chip Wade, who joined in 2019. Meyer will remain executive chairman of the board, while Wade will also join the board of directors… Before joining [USHG], Wade served as vice president of operations for Red Lobster for just under six years, and before that held executive and leadership roles with Darden, Legal Sea Foods and Smokey Bones.” Details via Joanna Fantozzi in NRN.
And For TV Fans – Headline in Deadline: “Top Chef: Bravo Series Heading To London For Season 20.” Not many details there from Rosy Cordero, but sounds like we’re looking at a global syndication crossover show: “Featuring past winners and finalists from 29 international versions, Top Chef World All-Stars will see 16 competitors battle it out for the ‘Top Chef’ title.” Woohoo?
And that’s it for today!
I’ll try to have more thoughts on the DC and NYC legs of this trip so far when I see you all here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or smokey bones 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!