Delivery restrooms, CA bibs, TOTC nods, Seaspiracy, Brau numbers, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, September 24th, 2021

Hello Friday,

Quick reminder to new subscribers: Family Meal goes out on Tuesdays and Fridays, but only paying subscribers get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays. Everyone else has to wait until Friday, when Tuesdays’ are copy / pasted at bottom. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays…

Let’s get to it…

The Laws – Headline in the NYT: “New York Passes Sweeping Bills to Improve Conditions for Delivery Workers Details via Jeffrey C. Mays: “The [first-in-the-nation] legislation prevents the food delivery apps and courier services from charging workers fees to receive their pay; makes the apps disclose their gratuity policies; prohibits the apps from charging delivery workers for insulated food bags, which can cost up to $50; and requires restaurant owners to make bathrooms available to delivery workers… Delivery workers would also be able to… determine the maximum distance they want to travel from a restaurant or specify that they are not willing to go over bridges to make a delivery, for example.”

The Suits – Meanwhile, in California: “Drivers for food-delivery companies like Grubhub can seek potentially huge penalties against the companies for refusing to treat them as employees before passage of a ballot measure [Prop 22] last November that allowed them to be classified as independent contractors, a federal appeals court ruled Monday… ‘Unpaid wages are vested rights’ that survive a change in the law, Judge William Fletcher said in the 3-0 ruling.” Bob Egelko has details in the SF Chronicle.

P.S. – Whether you love or loathe the delivery apps, I would not fault you for taking their grant money… “The [National LGBT Chamber of Commerce] & Grubhub have come together to provide vital assistance for LGBTQ+-owned and allied restaurants… with grants expected to range from $5,000 to $100,000.” Applications will have to demonstrate loss of business due to COVID, and need to be in by 11:59PM PT on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Details here.

The Runners Up Michelin released a list of 45 new California Bib Gourmands on Tuesday. They won’t reveal who retained their Bibs till this coming Tuesday (9/28), presumably to keep everyone in suspense about who may have moved up to a star (or been downgraded to L’Ass).

And 50 Best put out its 51-100 consolation list yesterday, with US entries Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare at number 55, and Alinea at 70. Alinea was number 37 the last time 50 Best published a list (2019), which is when I wrote about it for the Washington Post. Given the kicker on my piece that year, I’m guessing the 33 spot drop doesn’t matter much to the team on N Halstead: “Asked about a recent tweet in which he downplayed the importance of Michelin, traditional media and 50 Best, restaurateur Nick Kokonas of Chicago’s Alinea (No. 37 on this year’s list), said, ‘I’ll put Instagram as No. 1 on my list of most important drivers of restaurant business and reputation.’”

And if you’re the kind of person who loves (or sweats) Michelin and 50 Best, the 2021 Bocuse d’Or final round is streaming on Fine Dining Lovers this weekend (Sunday – Monday). “This year's platter challenge will centre on a hot dish showcasing a whole braised beef paleron for the first time ever.” FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!

For the Bar: Awards Season Tales of the Cocktail announced their COVID-limited awards slate this week, with just 8 US categories for 2021. Congrats to Douglas Ankrah, Jared Brown, and Anistatia Miller (Lifetime Achievement Award winners); Chris Cabrera (Pioneer Award); Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant (Timeless U.S. Award); Imbibe (Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication); Life Behind Bars with Noah Rothbaum & David Wondrich (Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series); “The Myth of the Peaceful Plantation” by Wayne Curtis (Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing); Drinking French by David Lebovitz (Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book); and Spirits of Latin America by Ivy Mix with James Carpenter (Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits).

For the Bar Too – If you daydream about owning your own craft brewery (and who doesn’t?!), here’s a little look behind one curtain via a crowdfunded bond offering from DC Brau in Washington. The raise comes with a public prospectus and some helpful numbers. Small (rounded) sample: DC Brau has total assets of $4.4M; is holding short and long-term debt of $3.2M; and brought in $3.8M in revenue last year (down from $4.3M pre-pandemic) with around $1.4M cost of goods sold.

The Lists – Quick update: Looks like most of the Eater city sites have updated their useful Fall 2021 “Most Anticipated” restaurant lists. Entries from Austin, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Vegas, London, LA, Nashville, New Orleans, NYC, Portland (OR), SF, and DC all linked to here for your clicking convenience. The SF Chronicle also has a Bay Area list here.

For TV Fans – Choose your news! Headline in Variety: “‘Top Chef’ to Film Season 19 in Houston.” Headline in Eater: “As ‘Top Chef’ Heads to Houston, Let’s Not Forget About What Happened Last Season. The reality competition crowned an admitted harasser as winner, and Bravo is all too happy for us to ignore that fact.” (And if that incredibly airbrushed lead photo in the Variety piece is any indication, Bravo is also all too happy for us to ignore the facts of natural aging…)

And last and maybe least: The Mystery of the Sea Wolf – Someone help me out of this Brooklyn-based rabbit hole, please. Headline in Law 360: “NY Eatery Exec Was Fired For Alleging PPP Fraud, Suit Says.” The owners of the restaurant group behind Brooklyn’s Sea Wolf allegedly got some PPP money and then “hired” their friends and family to meet the payroll requirements for converting the loans to grants. Fine. But the owners are listed in the suit as: “Cayuga Capital Management LLC, which according to its website owns $800 million worth of real estate in Brooklyn and Queens, and the company's owners Jacob Sacks and James Wiseman.” Which is funny, because Eater and many others say one Daniel Cipriani is the owner of Sea Wolf in Brooklyn, and he has said it himself many times, including in a recent COVID gofundme supported by Eric Bieber, the guy suing Cayuga Capital. In the Gofundme, Cipriani says flat out, “I am the owner of Sea Wolf in Bushwick, Brooklyn.” But is he? And if the complaint is accurate and Bieber “spent years helping [Cayuga Capital] launch a series of ‘trendy’ restaurants in Brooklyn and Queens,” what other restaurants does this real estate company not want us to know it owns?

Is this the tip of the iceberg of a massive Brooklyn real estate restaurant conspiracy? Or did I just not have time to ask these questions directly of the people involved before my deadline in sending this newsletter? Definitely one of those. Time will tell if both!

And that’s it for today. Except of course for Tuesday’s Family Meal, which is copy / pasted at bottom per usual. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays…

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 $800 million worth of real estate in Brooklyn and Queens to If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

Hello Tuesday,

A slightly light and truncated one today, as it’s both the Mid-Autumn Festival here in Hong Kong, and my wedding anniversary, so I have to get outside to light lanterns and pop corks ASAP.

Let’s get to it…

Awards Season – Ready or not, here they come… Some calendar reminders:

In California, the state’s 2021 Michelin Guide will reveal its bib gourmands tomorrow (September 22nd) and the stars one week from today (on Tuesday, September 28th). Background and some already announced “new and notable” selections via Stephanie Breijo in the LAT last week.

This Monday, September 27th, it’s the James Beard Awards turn, with their “Stories of Resilience and Leadership” event. Per the official site: “The live broadcast can be viewed via Twitter on September 27 at 7 P.M. CT / 8 P.M. ET / 5 P.M. PT. Learn more about the 2021 Awards ceremony here.”

And two weeks from today, “On 5th October, the 2021 list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by [bottled water], will be revealed in a live countdown on stage and broadcast simultaneously across 50 Best’s digital channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.” Though if you’re in town on the Friday beforehand, many of the same sponsors of 50 Best (and apparently the city of Antwerp) are kicking off the awards week with an exclusive dinner called “Flanders Finest.” Bet you the 550 Euro ticket price you can absolutely guess what the 10 chefs (20 hands!) who make up Flanders Finest look like…

The Data –  Headline in the NYT: “How to Make an Unloved Job More Attractive? Restaurants Tinker With Wages.” Per Jane Black: “The hiring crisis has prompted many restaurants to raise wages: Pay for hourly workers in leisure and hospitality jumped 13 percent to an average of $16.60 in August, from $14.72 a year ago,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(There are also some stats from a new One Fair Wage study in there, but I don’t think anyone should link to OFW studies until they do a better job of backing up their numbers. In the study / skim-of-jobs-sites cited in the Times, OFW says the Hotel Fort Des Moines of the Curio Collection by Hilton in Iowa is starting salaries at $40 an hour. Me and Google have a hard time believing that’s right.)

And in schedule tinkering: “This month, Jason Berry, a founder of Knead Hospitality, a restaurant group in Washington, D.C., will start introducing a four-day workweek for his restaurants’ managers. Mr. Berry proposed the schedule switch — four 12-hour days instead of five 11-hour shifts — after losing two valued longtime employees this summer.” Berry puts the cost at $250k / year for the first restaurant to make the change.

The Rules – “We don’t need the Fun Police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing. We know what we need to do to protect ourselves.” Anti-vaxxer? Anti-masker? Mayor of San Francisco after being caught on camera standing and singing and posing for photos unmasked at a supper club concert? Yeah. The last one. Fun fact: Based on what I heard from this amazing London Breed interview on Friday, you are now pseudo-legally allowed to indignantly complain to the health inspector, “This is nitpicking!” And they have to agree and walk away, especially if the spirit has moved you so much that you cannot reasonably be expected to confirm the accuracy of the walk-in thermometer.

The Media – You should definitely start a podcast for your restaurant! There is no competition at all. Except for maybe the new one from Ruth Rogers of London’s River Café, who “has assembled a formidable array of A-list names for the first 38 episodes: Paul McCartney, Al Gore, David Beckham, Glenn Close, Tracey Ullman, Salman Rushdie, Pete Davidson, Ralph Fiennes and so on… The idea of an audio series first occurred to Ms. Rogers, she said, on a visit to Roberta’s, the acclaimed Brooklyn pizzeria that has a radio station in its backyard…. She was further inspired after holding a charity fund-raiser in her London home in 2009, at which the actor Ian McKellen recited a recipe for ribollita soup from one of her cookbooks.” The deal was sealed when McKellen exclaimed, “Frailty, thy name is Ciabatta!” mid-read. Mark Landler has more in the NYT.

And Last and Least: The Collection – Close your eyes. Imagine what Major Food Group’s Mario Carbone would create if he were in charge of designing a clothing line. Did you see tracksuits and pinstripes? Wow. You’re right! I give you (via this GQ profile from Cam Wolf): Our Lady of Rocco. “The collection includes… matching jacket-and-pants sets—Mario calls it a leisure suit—a satin bomber jacket, T-shirts stitched with the brand’s name, a knit polo the deep red of marinara, pleated white pants, elastic-free tracksuits, hats, and a white tank christened the ‘wife pleaser,’ Mario says.” Oh man. Crazy. Ridiculous. Dear god. But in all seriousness, if you don’t buy me these $375 pleated polyester blend “leisure trousers,” I’m going to fly to the moon and live there alone forever.

And that’s it for today. Happy mid-autumn, friends! I’ll raise a glass to the moon to you, and…

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a knit polo the deep red of marinara to If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!