DoorDash Backlash, Atomix Inflation, Villarosa Aptitude, TK who, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, July 26th, 2019

Hello Friday,

If you want to burst our little food-and-food-media bubble for a minute, take a listen to yesterday’s 1A on NPR. The host interviewing Osayi Endolyn, Helen Rosner, and Mayukh Sen could never quite stop conflating all food writing with restaurant criticism, and didn’t seem to know who Thomas Keller is. The entire episode was the confused look I get when I try to explain this newsletter to passerby. Perfect.

Anyway, back to the bubble. So comfy in here.

Let’s get to it….

The Result – After backlash against their shady tip policy following Andy Newman’s Sunday NYT piece on his brief life as a gig food delivery worker, “DoorDash’s chief executive, Tony Xuwrote on Twitter on Tuesday, ‘we’re changing our model — the new model will ensure that Dashers’ earnings will increase by the exact amount a customer tips on every order. We’ll have specific details in the coming days.’” But but but, Newman’s update to his story notes that’s not necessarily a good thing for Dashers: “All the other major delivery apps give workers 100 percent of tips, but their pay rates vary. In this reporter’s very brief experience as a food delivery worker for multiple apps earlier this year, I typically made more on DoorDash orders than on orders for Uber Eats or Postmates.”

P.S. – Postmates apparently tried to capitalize on the controversy by advertising, “Our Postmates Fleet always keep 100% of their tips”, but writer Filipa Ioannou had the right take on Twitter: “The bar is so low that ‘we don’t do wage theft’ is a marketing campaign now.”

P.P.S. – DoorDash is valued at $7.1B with a B? Do they deliver from pets.com?

The Profile Treatment – Having just taken over the kitchen at NYC comedy club The Stand, chef Harold Villarosa gave Restaurant Hospitality’s Bret Thorn quite a collection of quotes this week. From, “That was fun memory, messing with the crack heads,” to this sequence: “At the Mormon college Brigham Young University… it wasn’t meant to be. ‘Smelling like weed sitting at the front of religion class — it wasn’t a good look,’ he said with a laugh. He ended up answering an ad on Craigslist to work at Discovery Academy, which works with troubled youth. ‘These rich white kids get sent to boarding schools and they have, like, ADHD or whatever,’ he said. ‘So I was their counselor. I’d have to put them in, like, four-point holds and all this crazy shit. They were buggin’ out. I think they were just too rich. They had some mental problems, for sure.’ It turned out that Villarosa had an aptitude for mentoring troubled people…”

The Close – Per Carlos Frías in the Miami Herald, “The founding father of New World Cuisine is being forced to close his flagship restaurant. Norman Van Aken, the Miami chef who won a James Beard award for his groundbreaking Norman’s in Coral Gables, will close the eponymous Norman’s in Orlando after 16 years. Its last service will be Aug. 31.” Be still my sarcastic heart, this is the money quote: “‘The new owners are putting in a steakhouse because they wanted to do something really original,’ Van Aken said.”

Meanwhile in Charleston, the Post & Courier’s Hanna Raskin reports, “Tradd’s, which bucked current trends by building big and wooing patrons with the promise of expensive caviar, is closing three months short of its first anniversary.”

The Price Point – In NYC, “One of the city’s most acclaimed and extravagant openings of 2018 has become even more expensive. Atomix, Ellia Park and Junghyun Park’s chef’s counter spot… has officially joined the two-hundred-dollar club. The ten-course Korean tasting, $175 per person at the time of the review cycle, is now $205, a price hike that snuck under the radar earlier this year. That means dinner for two, after service charge and tax, will cost at least $528. Add on optional wine pairings, and you’re at $928. Previously, that same meal would’ve ran around $850.” With an updated bar chart of eight other pricey places via Ryan Sutton in Eater NY.

The Evolution – “It’s weird as fuck that in a 10 year span SF went from ‘we make literally everything in house’ to ‘we can’t get pre formed impossible burger patties and it’s crippling my business.’” That’s Richie Nakano on Twitter this week, reacting to a Janelle Bitker story in the SF Chronicle describing how annoyed Bay Area chefs are at Impossible Foods. They feel like the company used them as early-adopting influencers and then stiffed them on Impossible Burger supply and sent product to Burger Kings nationwide instead. “‘It disappeared off our shelves and then showed up at Burger King across the street,’ said Christian Gainsley, owner of the Bernal Heights restaurant Outer Orbit. ‘It felt like a betrayal.’”

Yes. Texture-wise that definitely does a passable imitation of betrayal. Taste-wise: business.

The (Beer) Media – “Chris Furnari has left Brewbound, arguably the nation's leading beer news website that he’s steered as editor for almost nine years. On Thursday, approximately two weeks after he and news editor Justin Kendall offended many beer lovers by disparaging several women’s Instagram accounts during a podcast, the CEO and editorial director of Brewbound’s parent company [BevNet] confirmed the separation.” Details from Tara Nurin in Forbes.

For Design Fans – Wanna see another Momofuku restaurant? Here are Gary He’s photos of Wayō in Eater NY. My most boring design opinion (tied for first with 1,618 others) is that things on the waterfront should be of the waterfront, and koi cups don’t cut it, especially when Jean-Georges Vongerichten is out here painting nude water-fowl-men on his walls.

And Last and 15% Off At Least – In an unlikely promotion for the Eater Young Guns Summit happening in New York tomorrow, Eater EIC Amanda Kludt rang the closing bell at Nasdaq on Wednesday. Because I’m a professional, I emailed her to ask for comment on all the goofy grins and clapping. Because she’s a professional, she told me Family Meal readers can get 15% off summit tickets by using offer code YoungGuns15 at checkout here. Clap! Grin!

And that’s it for today. Boy howdy, I wish you were in Hong Kong right now because I bought way too many protest-slogan moon cakes this week. Such a sucker for political pastries. Story of my life.

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

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or minimum four-figure Atomix gift cards to andrew@thisfamilymeal.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!