Yelp crashes, Isabella SNAFU, DoL redo, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, November 13th, 2018
If you’re looking for news on the fires in CA, you won’t find it here. Don’t think I can add anything to the local coverage coming out of places like the LA Times and the SF Chronicle (which has an excellent Fire Tracker map resource).
If you are looking for some way to help, the NYT has a good roundup of local and national charities taking donations.
Here’s hoping you and your loved ones are out of harm’s way. If there’s anything I can help spread the word on, please let me know.
Let’s get to it…
The Schadenfreude – “Yelp cratered as much as 32 percent Friday, a day after releasing third-quarter earnings that revealed advertisers are abandoning the site and denting revenue. Shares fell as low as $29.33, a new 52-week low, before paring some losses to close nearly 27 percent down at $31.92… Yelp added zero net new advertising customers during the quarter.” Details (and biz show video commentary) from Sara Salinas on CNBC.
The Circus – Last week, after Mike Isabella’s business partner George Pagonis told the Washingtonian through a lawyer that he would soon be taking over the “culinary vision” of their parent company, MIC Concepts, Isabella’s spokesperson Kate Wilhelm responded by saying that wasn’t true yet, but “it was always Mike’s vision to one day hand the company off to George.” Now, reporters Anna Spiegel and Jessica Sidman have had to update their story: “As of Friday, Wilhelm is out. Isabella issued a statement from a new spokesperson, Edward Segal, adamantly objecting to his partners’ statement that he’s stepping aside… “Anyone who says or speculates otherwise or claims to know my thinking about these important matters is wrong. I will make an announcement at the appropriate time about my decisions and plans.”
Best of luck, Edward Segal!
The Guidelines – Basically going back to its pre-2009 standard, “The [U.S. Department of Labor] reissued guidelines that entitled employers to take a tip credit… provided that employee’s work time is spent in tip-generating work or ‘related duties’. When a waiter or waitress does side work such as rolling silverware or setting tables, her employer can still pay the lower wage and take a tip credit, even though the employee doesn’t earn tips for that work, provided those duties are ‘contemporaneous’ – coming immediately before or after waiting on customers – and related to tip-producing work.” Details via Peter Romeo in Restaurant Business Online.
FYI: “Related duties” are defined as every task on O*net’s official list of 25 for servers (hit the [+] next to Task to see them all), including: “Perform food preparation duties such as preparing salads, appetizers, and cold dishes, portioning desserts, and brewing coffee; Fill salt, pepper, sugar, cream, condiment, and napkin containers; Stock service areas with supplies such as coffee, food, tableware, and linens; Roll silverware, set up food stations, or set up dining areas to prepare for the next shift or for large parties; Prepare hot, cold, and mixed drinks for patrons, and chill bottles of wine.” Etc.
The key line (poetry?) from the official DoL letter: “No limitation shall be placed on the amount of these duties that may be performed… as long as they are performed contemporaneously with the duties involving direct service to customers, or for a reasonable time immediately before or after performing such direct-service duties.”
(P.S. Isn’t the best part of U.S. law when it gets super specific about a given subject, and then rests everything on a phrase like “reasonable time”? The best.)
Flush Capital – Eater London’s Adam Coghlan explains that Gordon Ramsay is on the cusp of a major investment from Lion Capital, aimed at opening “up to 100 new restaurants — in different formats — across the United States,” but adds, “Lion’s interest in the chef, and his name, is curious: At a time when the likes of Jamie Oliver has seen his own restaurant empire diminish in the last 18 months, Ramsay — if not yesterday’s breakfast — is hardly front-and-centre of dining in the U.K. in 2018.”
Ramsay 2020: Not yesterday’s breakfast!
The Media – FYI, Grubstreet is about to go behind a paywall, along with all the other New York Magazine sites.
And some sad news: On Sunday, Whetstone founder (and food writer, somm, former Nopa manager, community organizer, etc. etc.), Stephen Satterfield began a eulogy on Instagram, “With an incredibly heavy heart, I'm writing to let you all know that on Thursday afternoon, my dear friend, farmer and Whetstone editor, Debby Zygielbaum passed away in a car crash.” Full obit in the Napa Valley register: “Zygielbaum was a well-known figure in the Napa Ag community. She was the former vineyard manager for Robert Sinskey Vineyards and was a member of the board of directors at the Napa County Farm Bureau.” She was 44.
The Conversation – In a new Wall Street Journal video, Cat Cora, Chris Cosentino (Cockscomb, SF), Charles Ford (S.K.Y., Chicago), Angela Garbacz (Goldenrod Pastries, Lincoln, NE), Jacob Funk (The Vig, Chicago), and more discuss mental health in the industry, with a focus on suicide, in the wake of Anthony Bourdain’s death. There are a few key quotes, but the main thing is to just watch and hear multiple people talk openly about their personal struggles and hopes for others. So, here it is.
The Lookout NYC – “A violent mugger posed as someone looking for a job at a high-end Midtown restaurant on Friday — then choked a manager before robbing her of $400, sources said. The suspect walked into Quality Meats restaurant on 58th Street near Sixth Avenue… and asked to speak to someone about applying for a job, according to police sources. An employee then directed him to the manager’s office, cops said.” Details via Ben Feuerherd in the NY Post.
For Design Fans – “Inside Gupshup, a Dramatic New Indian Hangout Styled for ’70s Opulence” with photos from Louise Palmberg in Eater NY. Love a lot about the chaos and color in this space (though rather it weren’t printed onto the drinks as in the header shot). Interesting arrangement: People at the staircase bar get to watch a night’s worth of Instagram photo shoots clogging the landing below, and people taking pictures on the landing get to look up at (and under) the staircase bar above. Win win?
And last but not least – Maybe Italy followers will be unsurprised by this weekend’s FT longread from Hannah Roberts: “How the mafia got to our food: Italy’s organised crime families have infiltrated the country’s food chain, from field to fork.”, but I, an apparently naïve square, was shocked. Not only are they syphoning off millions from EU ag subsidies, but wholesale markets are operated via “invisible control room”, counterfeiting foods is as rampant as ever (that one I knew), and: “The final link of the food chain is restaurants and eateries, which provide the principal channel for money laundering. An estimated 5,000 restaurants in Italy are in the hands of the Mob, according to the Observatory. In Rome and Milan, clans are estimated to own one in five…. Natale Giunta, a well-known chef in Palermo, received such a visit when he opened a new restaurant in 2012. ‘There were three of them, including one person I knew, who made the introductions,’ he recalls. ‘They said I had not asked permission and demanded €2,000 a month, plus double at Christmas and Easter.’ Giunta refused to pay. But after the visit, he received bullets in the post. Then one of his catering vans was set on fire, causing €100,000 worth of damage. Giunta now has police protection.”
One in five?! Uh, is your Rome guide sending money to the bad guys?
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or yesterday’s breakfast 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! Most archives at thisfamilymeal.com for now.
P.S. Did you know there’s a Family Meal Instagram? There is. It is full of unique photography and very exciting situations. Today, I had to work from home because of a child care gap, and accidentally dropped a bowl of tom yum cashews on the floor. Riveting. You’re welcome.