Some Sad News, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
Sometimes, we all need a quick, easy break from the hard news facing us. This is not (exactly) that.
Let’s get to it…
Some Sad News – In Louisville, “David McAtee, who turned his talent for food into a popular West End eatery, was shot and killed by law enforcement officers early Monday morning, an incident that's now under state, local and federal investigation. McAtee, the owner of YaYa's BBQ in western Louisville, was known as a ‘community pillar,’ said his mother, Odessa Riley.” He was 53. In an obituary in the Louisville Courier-Journal, reporters Phillip M. Bailey and Darcy Costello say, “McAtee's mother and his nephew told The Courier Journal that he was known to feed police as well. The two said he would give law enforcement officers free meals. ‘He fed them free,’ Riley said. ‘He fed the police and didn't charge them nothing.’”
Of Solidarity and Support – Headlines in Eater cities: “Dallas Restaurants Stand in Solidarity With Protesters, Black Lives Matter Movement.” — “Multiple D.C. Restaurants Stand in Solidarity With Protesters While Suffering Property Damage.” — “Several Atlanta Restaurants Stand in Solidarity With Protesters, Black Lives Matter.” — “LA Restaurant Operators Declare Support for Protesters While Grappling With Unrest” — “NYC Restaurants Rally to Support Protests, Even With Windows Broken.” — “Black Restaurant Owners Stand in Solidarity with Protesters in Oakland and the East Bay.” Etc. etc.
Tell PR: Sure, the NYT’s Amelia Nierenberg reported that Ruhel Islam, owner of the severely damaged Gandhi Mahal restaurant in Minneapolis was overheard saying, “Let my building burn… Justice needs to be served.” But the relatively low bar to be included in the “support” and “solidarity” columns so far appears to be a tweet saying your broken windows aren’t as important as the bigger picture. In DC, for example, the Washingtonian’s Jessica Sidman said a Teaism “restaurant [was] on fire, windows smashed” when ownership tweeted: “Before anyone puts a single word in our mouths. Black lives matter.”
Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal went a few hashtags further: “We had a window broken last night. No one was hurt. We understand the rage and we stand in complete and unequivocal solidarity with the protests. #BlackLivesMatter #protests2020#TrumpResignNow #Revolution2020.”
And Founding Farmers co-owner Dan Simons wrote, “If America’s leaders (and citizens) listened to Colin Kaepernick when he peacefully communicated, maybe violent communication wouldn’t be necessary,” and then argued back against potential customers in the replies.
BUT… stumbling into that low bar a short walk from the White House were Polly and Robert Wiedmaier of Brasserie Beck (et al). After a large group of protesters apparently walked through her restaurant’s patio “yelling phrases that this paper can’t print, including comments about what to do with ‘the rich,’” according to Tim Carman in the Washington Post, “Polly sent out a tweet from the restaurant account that read, in part, ‘Hate is not welcome here and apologies to our customers.’ A second tweet went out moments later, apologizing for the first one, saying it was ‘meant as an apology to customers and not offend.’ Both tweets were later removed as the anger mounted over the restaurateur’s posts… [Robert] said he and Polly are not haters. They’re just in the hospitality business, where they take care of the people who enter their establishments. They both support the Floyd protests, he said.”
I know it’s cynical of me to see all this through the lens of good and bad PR, but I’m just in the newsletter business, and I’d like to see everyone in the support and solidarity columns ASAP.
The First Person – A Bon Appetit essay from Minneapolis restaurateur Louis Hunter begins: “George Floyd. Hearing it, seeing it—my body, my mind, and my soul were devastated. It took me back to when Philando Castile was killed by a police officer in 2016. Castile was my cousin. When he was killed, I attended a protest in Saint Paul, and the next day I was facing 20 years in prison. I was accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the police. I fought that case for two and a half years and with the help of my community, I beat the charges. That’s how I was able to open my restaurant, Trio.”
And last but not least: The Media – On a completely different note, and not solely food related, SF Chronicle editor in chief Audrey Cooper is leaving the paper for an undisclosed “new position in journalism” outside the Bay Area. The Chronicle still hasn’t named a permanent food section editor since Paolo Lucchesi left for Resy in November.
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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