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Toast Retreat, Michelin CA, Service service service, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, July 21, 2023
And hello from DC one last time. We’re beginning the long trip back to HK tomorrow, and I’ll be honest: I’m a bit overwhelmed by last minute logistics this morning.
This will be a very quick Family Meal.
Let’s get to it…
Michelin Season – The new Michelin CA guide was released this week, with “ten new Bib Gourmands, four new Green Stars, and six new One Stars,” per the official press release. Those new one stars are: Auro (Calistoga), Aphotic (SF); Chez Noir (Carmel-by-the-sea), Heritage (LA), Nari (SF), and Valle (Oceanside). And… that’s it for new.
For star losses, analysis, and a touch of grudge, check Matthew Kang in Eater LA under the headline: “Michelin Guide Continues to Mock LA.”
The Retreat – Tweet from restaurant tech reporter Kristin Hawley of Expedite: “Toast is walking back its recently introduced and controversial $1 order fee. ‘We made the wrong decision,’ said CEO Chris Comparato in a statement.”
Part of the full note from Comparato: “After extensive discussions with many of you, we have made the decision to remove the $0.99 order processing fee from the new version of our digital ordering suite by the end of this week. While we had the best of intentions — to keep costs low for our customers — that is not how the change was perceived by some of you. We made the wrong decision and following a careful review, including the additional feedback we received, the fee will be removed from our Toast digital ordering channels.”
Ah, that age old fee-based battle: Intentions vs Perceptions.
And last but not least: The Service – All anyone can talk about in DC right now — whether they are restaurant people or casual customers — is how crazy service fees are and how bad service is. Critics are back to pointing out bad service without “the pandemic has been hard…” caveats (check WaPo’s Tom Sietsema this week), and I don’t hear anyone outside the industry pushing back on “service sucks” comments, because… It’s not great out there! (I have never seen so many hosts so obviously annoyed to see someone open a door during business hours.)
Then there are the fees. A (good!) server stood over me with a tablet while I decided whether to add a suggested 3, 5, or 7% to the included 20% service charge at one place, which feels typical now. Fine? But Old Ebbitt Grill’s 3.75% “2023 surcharge” was a new one. No “healthcare for staff” or “help mitigate wage disparity for back of house,” just, “Hey, business is tough, man.”
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see you all back here (from HK, hopefully!) on Friday for next Family Meal.
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