Freeman speaks, Trump considers, Avila and Cunanan depart, Some sad news, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, August 4th, 2020
If you’re looking for something uplifting, I regret to inform you today is not the day to find it here. As goes the nation, so goes Family Meal.
Let’s get to it…
The Relief – Not sure any update can be truly helpful with so little movement on Capitol Hill, but here’s a bleak SITREP from Marianne Levine and John Bresnahan in Politico: “Senate GOP leaders and the White House have shown no clear plan to break a deadlock with Democrats over a new coronavirus relief package… At the same time, a $600-per-week federal unemployment benefit has lapsed, as has a federal eviction moratorium, threatening the financial outlook of millions of Americans. Faced with this deadlock, President Donald Trump said on Monday he is considering issuing executive orders extending the eviction moratorium or possibly delaying collection of the federal payroll tax, although it’s not clear what authority he has to do so.”
The Statistics – As politicians seek clarity on who can do what under, you know, the law, here’s a quick sample of data-driven headlines they might be seeing in… Bloomberg on Friday: One-Third of U.S. Restaurants Face Permanent Closure This Year. NOLA.com (updated) Sunday: 50% closure rate feared for New Orleans restaurants as crisis lengthens: ‘We’re teetering’. Eater NY on Monday: Nearly 40 Percent of NYC Restaurants Didn’t Pay Any Rent in July, Survey Says.
The Video – Meanwhile, the Independent Restaurant Coalition is out with an ad buy in metro DC, Florida, Louisiana, Wyoming, and more, trying to build support for its own industry-specific relief bill (a bill Tom Colicchio says has “152 co-sponsors in the House [and] 25 in the Senate” as of last night). The ad they’re putting out is a video featuring narration from a Mr. Morgan Freeman, who intones his own bleak statistic: “The COVID-19 crisis threatens to permanently close 85% of independent restaurants.”
The Departure – Some big (if expected) news in LA from Eater’s Mona Holmes: “Chef Wes Avila is leaving Guerrilla Tacos, the restaurant he founded as a roving food cart in 2012. Avila made the announcement on Instagram [yesterday] morning, almost two years after opening the first physical location… with partner Brittney Valles... In his post, Avila shares that he’s ready to spend more time with his family and ‘move onto the next adventure.’ That next adventure, no doubt, is Avila’s new restaurant Piopiko in the Ace Hotel Kyoto.”
The Ends of Eras – Eater LA’s Matthew Kang reports, “Dong Il Jang, one of LA’s most storied and longest running Korean restaurants, has decided it will close on August 15 after 41 years in business.” And Kang’s NY colleague Robert Sietsema writes, “Before 2000, [NYC] was lush with Cuban-Chinese restaurants… Now [after 52 years in business] La Caridad 78, one of the last and best, is closed.”
Some sad news – Not sure if / how to avoid what amounts to a California obituary section this week, but think this list of some (not all!) names and stories says something important about these times we’re all trying to get through. The departed:
In LA: “When Food & Wine magazine declared last year that ‘Historic Filipinotown is L.A.’s Next Great Dining Neighborhood,’ an unseen player in this rise was neither a chef nor a restaurateur. John Eric Swing spent the last five years helping restaurants and other small businesses in the community through a nonprofit called Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, or SIPA. In April he became the organization’s executive director…. He contracted the novel coronavirus and died on June 28 in a hospital in Fountain Valley, Calif…. He was 48.” Obituary from John Leland in the NYT.
In Northern CA: “Milla Handley was the first woman winemaker to open a winery in her own name in California. Through her Handley Cellars, she helped put Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley on the fine-wine region map and inspired a new generation of female wine producers. Handley died on July 25, about two weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis. She was 68.” Obituary from Esther Mobley in the SF Chronicle.
In SF, from Luke Tsai in Eater: “Marvin Lau, the chef and co-founder of the Native Sons BBQ, one of the Bay Area’s most acclaimed barbecue pop-ups, died on July 5 after a decade-long battle with cancer. He was 42 years old.”
And lastly, also in SF: “A.J. Sanchez, a well-liked Fisherman’s Wharf restaurateur who owned a pizzeria and a wine bar in the area, died on July 24. The cause was suicide, said his wife, Amanda Orloff. He was 53.” Obituary from Tara Duggan in the SF Chronicle, who goes into the pandemic pressures facing Sanchez, and notes: “The coronavirus crisis has had a major impact on mental health everywhere. In May, experts warned that a ‘perfect storm’ of social isolation, economic hardship and difficulty in accessing mental health treatment may increase suicide risk.”
NB: That last obituary has an If You Need Help section: “National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-8255 to reach a counselor at a locally operated crisis center 24 hours a day for free. Crisis Text Line: Text ‘Connect’ to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor any time for free.” And a reminder that Food & Wine editor Kat Kinsman’s Chefs with Issues site still has a big list of mental health resources tailored to people in the industry.
And last but not least – No good transition from that to this, but… Taste’s Matt Rodbard asked me some questions last week, and now Family Meal is part of his big piece this morning, headlined: “The Future of Food Media Is in Your Inbox.” I am quoted as saying, “Obviously, the ‘national conversation’ is defined case by case by me, and Family Meal naturally includes a level of vanity and know-it-allism that can only come from sitting behind a computer with time on my side and Google as an option.” Oof. My secret shame(lessness).
And that’s it for today.
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 level of vanity and know-it-allism 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!