PPP2, Staff vaccine, Outdoor mutants, Tariff talk, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
And welcome to the many of you who signed up over the holiday break! I’m sending today’s Family Meal out to everyone, but going forward only paying subscribers get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays (though it’s copy/pasted under Friday so free-readers don’t miss anything). If you want full service:
Always a bit rusty after a break, but…
Let’s get to it…
The Relief – The latest $900B federal relief bill is now law, so here comes Paycheck Protection Program round 2: “The application form and guidance could be available as soon as this week, and loan applications could start rolling out the second week of January as what’s known as PPP2 goes live, said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA(dot)com.” Details via Amanda Iacone on Bloomberg Tax, where the advice for accountants is: “[Accountancy] firms should prepare for ‘an intense period’ and begin talking to their clients, update engagement agreements, and upload as much information and documentation as they can now.” Is your CPA in your inbox yet?
The Relief Too – Beyond what’s in the federal bill for individual workers (not much), industry folks in need should note there’s still money in some emergency funds, including the Southern Smoke Foundation. Probably an outlier, but Eater Chicago’s Ari Bendersky reports that the SSF’s efforts there “created a $4M fund to support Chicago’s restaurant workers — but $3.6M remains unclaimed… Chicago restaurant workers can apply for grants at the link.”
The Remedy – Still unclear how most states are doing this yet, but in DC, City Paper’s Laura Hayes tweeted some good news for industry staff yesterday: “Per today's press conference and the mayor's office, restaurant workers are considered part of the ‘other essential workers’ group that has a target vaccination eligibility date of Feb. 1. Residents of MD/VA who are employed as essential workers in D.C. will be eligible.”
The Strain – STILL, as vaccination drags on, it looks like arguing for safe dining in almost any conditions is about to get much harder, especially in CA. Explaining their decision to again ban public outdoor seating, Manhattan Beach officials released a statement saying: “With a new mutant strain of COVID now present in California, which is reportedly more easily spread than the original virus, we must continue to strive to reduce virus transmission.” Details from Ruben Vives and Colleen Shalby in the LA Times. Now I guess we wait for the next New-Study-Shows diagrams of restaurant seating areas, air currents, and mutant strain infections?
The Message – Headline in Washington Post Opinion: “Joe Biden can save restaurants with the stroke of a pen. Here’s how.” If you, like me, read that headline and assumed authors Alice Waters and Kwame Onwuachi would be advocating for a massive aid package and/or some sort of safe reopening plan, brace yourself for the new imperative: “President-elect Joe Biden… could take executive action the day he takes office to bring some immediate relief… That action would be to reverse a blow that many restaurateurs suffered months before covid-19 struck… a 25 percent tariff on European food imports.” I don’t want to pooh-pooh the importance of this issue to many businesses — and I assume Waters and Onwuachi didn’t get to choose that headline(!) — but it does feel like pushing that policy this way via a new Coalition to Stop Restaurant Tariffs (fronted by some of the same chefs also headlining the Independent Restaurant Coalition) adds yet another note to the already less than unified messaging around what will “save restaurants” right now.
Give us $120B via the RESTAURANTS Act! Allow us to re-open safely! Or, uh, hear us out, American voters… Lower wholesale prices on foreign foods!
The Public Interest – There are a gazillion 2020 roundups and 2021 predictions pieces out there right now (almost all of which feature brave food writers sticking their heads above the parapets of futurism to shout toward their 2021 roundups: “This New Trend Will Keep Trending!”), but the one I found most interesting was Sara Bonisteel’s NYT Food “Most Read Food Stories of 2020.” Recipes and food tips are known click-magnets, but I was surprised to see that in an absolutely insane year for the restaurant industry, only one of the top 20 food section stories is about restaurants — and its main draw is probably the fact that it has recipes.
If an entire industry is decimated and no one hears it, do I have to soak beans overnight?
The Media – Influential food writer/editor Jeff Gordinier posts on Instagram: “After four and a half years at Esquire — and about 30 years as a magazine and newspaper writer — I have decided to go in a new direction… a job that will give me a chance to focus on issues of health and the environment… I start in the position in January.” Not sure yet what the position is, or what Esquire may be planning re a replacement.
And last but not least: The Leftovers – Headline in Eater SF: “New California Law Raptures Thousands of Restaurants From Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub. From January 1, apps… can only offer delivery from restaurants they’re directly partnered with — instead of listing restaurants without permission.” Story from Eve Batey with numbers from Laura Forman in the WSJ: “The law, which took effect on the first day of 2021, could have a huge impact on the options available to diners who use these apps — as well as the apps, themselves. According to the Wall Street Journal, as of September, Uber-owned Postmates, for example, boasted 700,000 restaurants on its app. Of those, only 115,000 had a partnership agreement with the app.” Doordash apparently does a vast majority of its business with partnered restaurants, but, “in California alone, Postmates said in September, 40,000 of the restaurants they list would have to either be converted into paid partnerships or removed.”
I know a lot of you want to be optimistic about 2021, but… Revelations Chapter 6, Verse 14: “The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its app.” Yikes.
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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