Uber Future Eats, Trouble at Blu Mar, &Bruner-Yang, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Hello Tuesday,

Coming to you live from the Uber Eats Future of Food Summit at Baggage Room 8 of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong. (Not a joke.)

Last slide from their featured restaurant client speaker:

“Future Focuses: In three years, delivery has become a key portion of what we do as a result of the introduction of the platforms to stores. One thing we must do, is learn how to live with it.”

A ringing endorsement from a happy hostage!

I wanted to ask if anyone heard the most recent Dave Chang show, where Chang compared the effect of delivery apps on restaurants to the effect of Facebook and Google on media. Apt? Alas, cut for time.

Let’s get to it…

The Delivery Dine-In Wars – Speaking of Uber Eats, in TechCrunch, Josh Constine reports they are “barging into the dine-in business. A new option in some cities lets you order your food ahead of time, go to the restaurant, then sit down inside to eat, a tipster from competing dine-in app Allset tells us... Adding Dine-In lets Uber Eats insert itself into more food transactions, expand to restaurants that care about presentation and don’t do delivery and avoid paying drivers while earning low-overhead revenue. Uber’s Dine-In option is now available in some cities, including Austin, Dallas, Phoenix and San Diego.”

The Pessimist – “We’ve just been through America’s belle epoque of restaurants. What’s more, the party is over and most of us are blithely unaware… Some experts are saying that an unfortunate confluence of factors — oversaturated restaurant markets, rising labor and food costs, weak sales, changing consumer tastes and loyalties, a shrinking middle class, declines in mall traffic, bank and investor skittishness about returns on investments — means the near future looks bleak.” That’s the Washington Post’s Laura Reiley describing “the thesis of ‘Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End,’ a new book by James Beard Award-winning food journalist Kevin Alexander.

Fine. And I’m not saying Alexander should wear a scarlet letter for the rest of his career (definitely not), but it is strange not to mention that the author making dramatic (if apparently obvious) predictions in a new book is also responsible for one of the more epic editor’s note / corrections of the past year

That Fast Casual $$$ - Per Eater DC’s Tierney Plumb, “Erik Bruner-Yang, the prolific D.C. restaurateur behind Maketto and the Line hotel’s Brothers and Sisters and… Spoken English, was just named executive chef at &pizza. His first menu design for the homegrown brand will be revealed at its new NYC location, scheduled to debut on Wall Street on Wednesday, July 10.”

The (Pastry) Profile Treatment – Pastry chef Claudia Martinez gets a full “Young Gun” write-up courtesy of Sonia Chopra in Eater, and it begins, as expected, in a strip club. “Any good story about the Clermont Lounge features Blondie, the dancer who celebrated her 40th anniversary at the club this spring at 62 years old. Blondie is an icon. She’s known for her ability to crush beer cans between her breasts, and for being a dancer at her age, but to many, she also represents a soul of Atlanta that’s disappearing quickly, one that’s been bulldozed down and built up over through decades of development but is fighting to remain strong. She’s been immortalized in documentaries, in coffee table books, and, now, as a dessert.” And now, there’s a coffee table book on my Christmas list.

The Non-Starter – “One of the most high-profile restaurant openings in the Hamptons this summer has been a conflict-addled mess — and now, the tension is heating up, with legal threats flying back and forth. New York chef Terrance Brennan, behind now-closed Michelin star restaurant Picholine, and East End restaurateur Zach Erdem opened Blu Mar together in May, a Southampton seafood restaurant in the style of Estiatorio Milos. But it opened without its liquor license, and some customers balked at the prices… After a slow June, Erdem says he could not pay Brennan in full.” Tale as old as time. But don’t miss this gem:

Responding to allegations that he “was ‘greedy,’ eating seven-course meals and drinking expensive wines at lunch and dinner at Erdem’s other restaurant 75 Main,” Brennan told Eater’s Beth Landman, “I get up at 5 a.m., meditate, drink green tea and work out. I have a glass of wine with dinner, but certainly didn’t order bottles during lunch, and as for seven courses, there aren’t seven things I would want to eat on his [75 Main] menu.’’ Damn.

The Media – “Certified wine person” turned editor Joseph Hernandez announced on Twitter yesterday that he is leaving Thrillist to join SevenFifty Daily as the new senior editor there. He included a link to his new outlet’s pitch guidelines in that thread. Write up, bar folk!

For Design Fans – Not sure if ceramic fungus sculptures and felt lighting touches are enough to get you interested in this relatively minimalist little space in Chicago, but I love that Eater snuck this caption onto Brian Rich’s photo spread for Wherewithall: “The tables are made from wood salvaged from a Wisconsin forest.”

Drunk Max Fischer voice: “O. R. they?”

And that’s it for today.

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

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