PPP deadline, Food Media mirrors, Pauses and stops, Roman live, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Hello Tuesday,

LOTS to get to today.

Let’s get to it…

The Relief – Headline in Bloomberg: “Over $100 Billion in U.S. Virus Relief Loans Left Unclaimed.” Story from Mark Niquette: “the Paycheck Protection Program had more than $100 billion in funding left as of last Saturday, with only days remaining until the SBA stops taking new applications on June 30…. The program, designed for the 30 million U.S. businesses that have fewer than 500 employees, has stalled since mid-May, leaving about $128 billion available as of June 20, according to the SBA. Whatever remains after the final applications are processed will be returned to the Treasury unless Congress acts to re-purpose them.” Niquette reports some reps are suggesting extending the PPP lending deadline toward the end of the year, but hard not to notice that that surplus number is eerily close to the $120B the Independent Restaurant Coalition has been lobbying Congress for

The Reclosing – Headline in the NYT: “Alarmed by Sun Belt Spike, N.Y. and N.J. Reconsider Pace of Reopening. The New Jersey governor postponed plans to allow indoor dining this week, and New York officials are considering a similar pause.” Details via Mihir Zaveri: “New York City has been scheduled to enter Phase 3 of its reopening on July 6, which would have allowed restaurants and other establishments to serve patrons indoors if they cut their capacity in half and followed various other restrictions… But at a news conference on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that officials were now considering whether indoor dining could restart safely in the city and that he would make a decision on Wednesday.”

The crux of the matter is indoor spaces, and Zaveri cites 70 infections connected to one Michigan bar as one prime example of the problem with indoor gatherings. Seventy is bad, but… it’s gotten worse. Per Eater Detroit’s Brenna Houck, “As of Saturday, June 27, the Ingham County Health Department has identified 85 positive COVID-19 cases linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, located near the Michigan State University campus. By Monday, June 29 that number had grown to 107 positive cases.”

I won’t go state by state through all the reopening pauses and retreats, but if you bought inventory, re-hired staff, made capital improvements, or spent funds on anything else in anticipation of now delayed re-openings in your state, I suggest sending copies of those bills to the official US Government Shitshow Reimbursement Dept. at 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480. They owe you some money.

The Media – “They say he is a kingmaker. They say he is a white man — however charming — who has too much power over who tells the story of food in a region where so much of the cuisine was created by enslaved people.” That’s the NYT’s Kim Severson writing about John T. Edge, “head of the influential Southern Foodways Alliance,” in a piece last night about all the people calling for his resignation. The “they” there is a collection of voices from within and without the SFA — including friends of Edge — and to be clear, the question of his departure appears to be one of when not if. There is a lot of background here and too many voices to go one by one, so I’ll just say the whole thing is worth a read. (And I have an essay’s worth to say about it if I can ever find the time, the jumping off point of which is the fact that the NYT’s white food correspondent living in Atlanta hashtagged her post of this particular article about when “the ground shifts under the feet of the establishment” with #stayuncomfortable….)

NB: Tunde Wey, whose recent discussion with Edge was described by Severson as “the match that ignited the current debate over Mr. Edge’s leadership,” was none too impressed with the NYT piece, describing it on Instagram as “white face-saving masquerading as objectivity.” (Severson responded on Twitter: “Tunde’s gonna Tunde”).

And elsewhere in the food media self-policing world, Tammie Teclemariam (the writer most recently known for calling attention to that Adam Rapoport brownface photo) posted a long thread on twitter, accusing LA Times Food editor Peter Meehan of multiple instances of harassment back in his Lucky Peach days, as well as alleged journalistic incompetence while taking a $300k salary to edit LA food coverage from his home in NY. And Illyanna Maisonet, who previously posted her pitch rejection from Rapoport at Bon Appetit (prompting Teclemariam’s posting of the brownface photo and the subsequent allegations leading to his resignation), has now posted another editorial dispute, this time with Tara Duggan of the SF Chronicle.

The Profile Treatment – In Eater SF, Mayukh Sen makes the case to keep Elka Gilmore’s name in bright lights alongside male contemporaries like Jeremiah Tower and Gary Danko. “She made her biggest splash with Elka, a Franco-Japanese restaurant she opened with Traci Des Jardins in 1991 in Japantown. Elka was a dazzling showcase for both women’s artistry…. She followed her namesake restaurant with the short-lived Liberté and Oodles before receding from the limelight in the aughts. Gilmore, who died in San Francisco last July at 59 after a flurry of health problems, became one of Bay Area dining’s most recognizable names in the 1990s. She found success while being open about her queerness and championing fellow queer, female culinary voices… Gilmore’s queerness mattered — and still matters today — precisely because her work gave permission to other chefs who followed.”

The Delivery Wars – “Uber has made a takeover offer to buy Postmates, the upstart delivery service, according to three people familiar with the matter, as the on-demand food delivery market consolidates and Uber looks for new ways to make money.” Details via Mike Isaac and Erin Griffith in the NYT.No numbers yet, but a reminder: “Uber held merger talks this year with GrubHub…. Those talks fell apart after the two companies could not come to agreement on a price… GrubHub was eventually bought by Just Eats, a European food delivery service, for $7.3 billion in June.” Personally, I just hope whatever banks are handling these mergers make sure to tack on an appropriate service fee, transfer fee, delivery fee, technology fee, and surge pricing multiple. Only fair.

The Ghosts in the Cloud – Ghost kitchens got the full New Yorker treatment this week via Anna Wiener. I did not get a chance to read the whole thing yet (the full New Yorker treatment is a lot), but here’s a totally random grab quote from a quick scan: “He and his wife, the restaurateur Jen Pelka, repaired to their country home in Sonoma County.” Any piece with “repaired to their country home” in it is clearly a relatable-ly written piece for these trying times… enjoy!

And last but not least – As your PR advisor, I highly recommend you DO NOT do as Alison Roman did and go on Ziwe Fumudoh’s IG Live interview show. But as the devil sitting on your sinister side, I highly recommend you DO go on. There you can impale yourself on tough questions like: “Name 5 Asian people.” And say things like “There were no black people at Bon Appetit while I worked there” only to be corrected by New Yorker writer Doreen St. Felix in the comments (“I interned at bon app for three months and literally worked WITH her when she was there.”).

Maybe you think you’ll come off charming! And maybe you will in the moment! But I can assure you the written version (“could only name two Asians”) will not properly convey the cute frown-smile you make on camera.

Bites lower lip, raises eyebrows, smirks: “And that’s it for today.”

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

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