Simi asylum, Driver choices, New critics, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, April 22, 2022
Before we get started, some personal-but-relevant travel info: I’ll be departing Bali Monday to spend one night luxuriating in the Singapore airport Yotel*, before heading back to Hong Kong on Tuesday. In-person school has started up in HK again, and for the greater glory of education, our oldest and I are planning to spend the mandatory 7 straight nights (~160 hours!) confined together in a quarantine hotel room on arrival. Such is life in the world of “dynamic COVID-zero”.
Please send single malt scotch and commodity apple juice to: Andrew Genung c/o The Cordis, Mong Kok, Hong Kong.
Paying subscribers, I will find someway, somehow to get Tuesday’s Family Meal to you, but there is a fair chance it’ll be a little late. Thank you for understanding.
On the upshot, decisions around travel right now are partly based on an eventual trip to the US this summer, so here’s hoping I can buy some of your food and drink — and see some of you — soon.
Let’s get to it…
The Runner – Headline in Eater Austin: “Downtown Greek Restaurant Owner Escapes the Country, Leaving Workers and Rent Unpaid.” Doesn’t sound like that wild a story, really, until you realize that reporter Erin Russell actually got the owner to talk… George Theodosiou went with the ole Restaurateur Burnout Defense: “‘I was mad. My whole world collapsed,’ says Theodosiou. ‘I spent three years there building this restaurant, and Monday I would have [been] left with nothing. So for my own sake, and my own personal health, I’d rather walk out and take the keys, than stay there and be the idiot standing outside my restaurant with nothing.’”
He says he wants to make staff whole, and “acknowledges that he looks bad in this situation,” but then goes on to imply anyone chasing money should also be looking at previously unnamed / unknown partners, one of whom apparently owns the building the restaurant, Simi, owes rent to?
Recommend the whole article, and stick around for the kicker: “He also claims to be working with investors for different restaurant projects for his next venture somewhere.”
Good luck, all!
The Riders –Yesterday, NYC mayor Eric Adams “announced new protections for third-party delivery workers, including letting them choose routes and getting more information about deliveries... The new rules go into effect Friday [today].” Restaurant Hospitality’s Ron Ruggless reports that alongside new guidelines on pay and who gets what equipment, the apps must now: “Allow food delivery workers to set limitations on distances they will travel from restaurants and which bridges or tunnels they are unwilling to use, and provide upfront disclosure to food delivery workers about route, pay, and gratuities.” Not yet clear what this means for restaurants and customers in or near “bad areas”…
The Critics – Two new critics on the beat this month. In Dallas, Brian Reinhart tweets: “Last week, I started a new day job: dining critic at D Magazine.” His first column is a bit of a self-introduction if you don’t know him already: “I’ve been writing about and reviewing Dallas restaurants for six years now, first at the Dallas Observer as its food critic, then as a columnist for the Dallas Morning News… Now the folks at D have asked me to report on and assess our city’s food full-time, taking the place of longtime (and award-winning) dining critic Eve Hill-Agnus.” NB: He is not anonymous (past employers posted headshots).
And at the top of two new reviews last week, Chicago Magazine notes: “Now that things are stabilizing and places are opening (and reopening), we think diners can use help making sense of the new landscape. Enter John Kessler… He went to culinary school and worked as a cook and chef in Washington, D.C., and Denver before becoming a writer… He served as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s dining critic for 18 years. Since moving to Chicago in 2015, he has regularly contributed to this magazine. (You may remember him as the guy who drew much ire for his 2018 essay, “The Party Is Over,” about how the local restaurant scene had lost its luster.)” His photo is at the top of his first reviews.
P.S. The Media – Eater Nashville is looking for a part-time Nashville editor, and I can’t do it.
Some Sad News – Back in Chicago, “Bob Chinn, whose Bob Chinn’s Crab House on Milwaukee Avenue in Wheeling brought droves of customers to the northwest suburbs and became one of the nation’s highest-grossing restaurants, died Friday at 99.” Katie Anthony has a full obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times: “Mr. Chinn was the third of seven children and the son of Chinese immigrants. He was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and his family moved to Chicago when he was 8… Mr. Chinn started delivering Chinese food on foot at 14 and dropped out of high school to join the Army during World War II… The Wheeling restaurant took in $24 million a year in food sales alone and was named by Forbes magazine as the highest-grossing restaurant in the nation in 2012. It had 700 seats and served 2,500 meals a day.”
And last and least: Ms. Manners – In “To Tip or Not to Tip” a big article about “tipping fatigue” this week, the NYT’s Christina Morales goes to a classic for norms: “The Emily Post Institute, which offers guidelines on etiquette, advises that tipping in a sit-down restaurant is expected. But faced with a tip jar, or the technology that replaces that, customers should consider tipping to be discretionary. ‘I see that situation as no different as to whether you’re going to pocket your change or put it in the tip jar,’ said Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, and the institute’s co-president.”
FOH at fast casual? Deli? Coffee? You can have a dime, time to time. As a treat.
And that’s it for today!
Wish us luck (and negative PCR tests!) on our travels, and I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday, and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal. if you’d like to get Tuesday’s on Tuesday too..
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or $24 million a year in food sales alone 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!