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Family Meal - October 18th, 2019
Let’s get to it…
Bad PR – Headline in Eater SF: “Star Chef Who Once Worked for Jeffrey Epstein Opens Napa Valley Restaurant.” Ouch. That’s Adam Perry Lang they’re talking about, and this second billing is a sign that his no-further-comment strategy isn’t going to cut it in (at least some of) the press. Reporter Caleb Pershan links out to some good initial reviews, but also lists a series of still unanswered q’s like: “When did he and Epstein last interact?” and “Did Epstein lend financial support to any of Lang’s restaurants?”. Those are good, fair questions, and if Lang’s not going to answer them… Congrats to his online reputation management firm on their long-term contract!
(P.S. – Actually, SEO may be a saving grace for Lang. Eater’s headline on Google makes no mention of Epstein, presumably to ensure the article comes up when people google “Adam Perry Lang”. This modern world contains multitudes, but if they’re not on page 1 of my search results, I haven’t seen ‘em.)
The Accusations – “A former publicist for Chicago-based restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises alleges she was sexually assaulted by the corporation’s wine director and then retaliated against after she reported it to company officials, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court. Emily Wong, who worked for Lettuce Entertain You from March 2017 through November 2018, was put on leave days after reporting an assault by Ryan Arnold, who at the time was the company’s divisional wine director and was on track to be promoted to company partner, according to the complaint.” Details of both the alleged assault and HR response from Morgan Greene and Josh Noel in the Chicago Tribune.
The Profile Treatment – NYT’s T Magazine has “The Jean-Georges Recipe for Restaurants” from Christopher Cox this week. Not a lot you didn’t already know, but a few fun tidbits and numbers to make it worth a read if you have some time: “In the car’s back seat, one member of that team, Daniel Del Vecchio, executive vice president of Jean-Georges Management, was taking calls and typing on a laptop. In addition to Del Vecchio, who hardly leaves Vongerichten’s side, the two most important players for openings are Gregory Brainin, who leads a sort of commando unit that trains cooks at Jean-Georges restaurants all over the world, and Lois Freedman, the president of the company and the only person I saw (regularly) overrule Vongerichten himself… All of them started as cooks and grew into executives as the business grew. They now oversee 5,000 employees in 12 countries. Last year, the Jean-Georges group did $350 million in total sales…. Expansion was made possible by a shift in the way that Vongerichten did business. The early restaurants were owned and operated by the Jean-Georges group. Most of the new restaurants are management deals…. Today these agreements provide three-quarters of Vongerichten’s total revenue. (The group’s most profitable restaurant is Prime at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It and the Jean-Georges flagship each have revenues of $25 million a year, though the cost to run the flagship is much higher.)”
LA Moves – Per LAT critic / reporter Bill Addison, “Travis Lett, the chef behind Venice restaurants Gjelina and Gjusta, is in the process of ending his partnership with co-owner Fran Camaj, according to a source… If the outcome is as expected, says the source, Camaj will buy Lett’s equity in their company, Gjusta Group, and Lett — who has largely been the face of the popular restaurants — will move on from the business.”
The Media – “Zagat has big plans for a multi-faceted relaunch in 2020: we’ll be launching a new review and recommendation platform, releasing a 40th anniversary edition of the Zagat book, and also launching an editorially-driven site that we’re tentatively calling Zagat Stories.” They’re looking for an editor for those stories, hence this job post.
For the Bar – Maks Pazuniak, co-owner of Brooklyn’s Jupiter Disco, is apparently also a bit of a data whiz, and I don’t pretend to have any idea what I’m looking at in his scatter graphs and negative correlation coefficients, but near the end of this (probably) interesting Medium post, he says, “It does look like there’s a bit of signal in this data, implying that the cocktail price premium isn’t quite capturing the opportunity cost of the time it takes to produce them (the opportunity cost here is the time bartenders could be selling vodka sodas). And if we don’t want to raise prices (which we don’t), it means we’ll have to revisit the builds and processes for making cocktails to see if we can shave some seconds off and get them out faster.” So…. neat?
And that’s it for today. About to be late for dinner…
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal!
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