Eater whiplash, NYT absence, Flavortown prevalence, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
Sending today’s out to everyone again due to this past Friday’s holiday. After this we’re back to our regular programming, so if you’d like to keep getting Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays and have the means…
Let’s get to it…
The Discord – “Death surges be damned,” says Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton. “Cuomo’s Reckless Return to Indoor Dining Values NYC Restaurants Over Lives…. Inasmuch as it’s one of the most basic duties of government to protect its citizens, Cuomo should keep indoor dining closed until he can better guarantee the safety of the workers who stand to suffer the most.”
Luckily for Eater, it has no such basic duty, so three days after publishing their chief critic saying eating indoors would risk the safety of restaurant workers and possibly cause another “death surge,” Sutton’s colleagues at Eater NY put out “A Last-Minute Guide to Valentine’s Day in NYC,” complete with photos of maskless martini clinking and descriptions of “low lights and comfy booths [adding to] the cozy atmosphere.”
A disclaimer says the list of places you can dine out “should not be taken as endorsement for dining out” (fine print that would make Joe Camel blush), and I assume Sutton’s piece is supposed to be labeled as an Op-Ed, like Brooke Jackson-Glidden’s similar article in Eater Portland, but scrolling through the Eater universe lately I feel like boy scout Bart Simpson trying to understand the 10 do’s and 500 don’ts of Knife Safety.
Meanwhile, in the NYT, Pete Wells didn’t address the fact that his paper has officially said even outdoor dining is unsafe in NYC. Instead, he published a takeout review this week and left COVID almost entirely out of it. In fact, I can’t find a single headline in the New York Times Food section about the return to indoor dining for over two weeks.
Am I missing it, or has the food section of the New York Times decided to sidestep reporting on the biggest news in the restaurant world there?
That nothing is… something.
The Discourse – An important, cautionary tale from Janelle Bitker in the SF Chronicle last week: “Like restaurants everywhere, Sonoma’s celebrated the Girl & the Fig restaurant has struggled due to the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, navigating temporary closures and reopenings as regulations changed. Wine Country wildfires last year added to the uncertainty for the usually thriving business. But when it decided to shut its doors this week, neither health hazards nor climate change was to blame. Instead, a dispute over a server’s desire to support the Black Lives Matter movement by wearing a BLM face mask has gone viral and led to charges of racism. The former server said she felt pressured to quit over her support of a civil rights issue. The restaurant’s owner said it was about maintaining a uniform look for an upscale vibe. Now, both are receiving death threats, and some have threatened to burn the restaurant down.”
Little pink houses for you and me?
Flavortown Imperialism – “Guy Fieri is the latest chef banking on ghost kitchens to expand his brand in the middle of the pandemic. Fieri… has launched Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen in 23 states and Washington, D.C., a delivery-only restaurant operating out of existing restaurants or industrial kitchens.” Eater’s Jaya Saxena reports, “The Flavortowns… mostly operate out of the kitchens of restaurants, such as Buca di Beppo, Brio Italian Grille, Bravo Italian Kitchen, and Bertucci’s… Fieri already owns a small chain, Chicken Guy, with Robert Earl, the owner of Bertucci’s, Bravo, Brio, and Buca di Beppo. Additionally, Earl — who built his empire on theme restaurants such as Planet Hollywood— is the founder of Virtual Dining Concepts, which oversees [celebrity backed ghost concepts] MrBeast Burger and Tyga Bites.”
Real estate at the top of delivery app screens getting pretty tight with cash grabs, but probably still room for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not if they want to get in on the hustle?
The Critics – Moving on in Michigan, Mark Kurlyandchick tweets: “Entering the Aquarian Age with some personal news: I’ve taken a voluntary layoff from the Detroit Free Press and will be leaving my post March 15. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve as the Freep’s restaurant critic these last 5 years...” Not sure what’s next for the Free Press, but Kurlyandchick says he’s off to work on some indie filmmaking.
The Media – Venture equity firm (their description) North Equity and subsidiary Action Media Inc have announced that Saveur is discontinuing its quarterly print editions and going (almost) all digital: “While we understand this might be disappointing, SAVEUR has been in print for 27 years, and it feels like the right time to [follow the herd and grab for the dregs of that pre-downfall Bon App digital money money money money].” (Small poetic license mine. Full actual statement here.)
Some Sad News – In DC, “Andrew LaPorta, the gregarious chef-owner of well-regarded seafood restaurant Pesce in Dupont Circle, died suddenly of natural causes Friday, February 5, at the age of 48. For the past five years, LaPorta was the lone operator of the historic restaurant founded by famed French chef Jean Louis Palladin and Roberto Donna over 25 years ago. Dalavy Sadettan La Porta, the chef’s wife, says Pesce will permanently.” Tierney Plumb has an obit in Eater DC.
And Last and Least: The Unlicensed – What do Chez Panisse, Nathan’s Famous, Stars, Trotters, Masa, Joe Beef, South Philly Barbacoa, Gramercy Tavern, Commander’s Palace, The French Laundry, and the Michelin Guide (among others) have in common? They’re all co-branded with their local sports teams via the anonymous, apparently unlicensed, supposedly non-profit hat site amuseboosh.org. Alinea was on there too until Nick Kokonas and team started asking questions. Kokonas seems to think Steve Buscemi’s cousin is behind it(?), but the contact email on the site doesn’t work, and I haven’t heard back to questions I sent via Instagram.
Please send tips! My goal is not to destroy the people behind this. My goal is to get my hands on a custom “Blackberry Farm X TN Smokies” minor league dad-cap.
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