The Family Meal – Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Good Tuesday to you,

Some heavier stuff today, but palette cleansers too, and all worth the clicks, I promise. Quick note: If you’re getting this as a FWD, it’s also worth the click to sign up for yourself at

Off we go…

THE FUTURE IS NOW: And while it’s not exactly unexpected, Amazon’s video promoting its grocery stores with “Just Walk Out” technology somehow still felt shocking to watch. I always thought checkout-free stores would scan everything in your cart as you walked through some kind of detector, but Amazon appears to use near-field communication with your phone to update your “cart” as you shop, and then close your tab once you’ve left the store. It’s not really restaurant related yet, but drag this technology around your imagination a bit…

Single Thread opened Friday, so here is a full, picture-rich look at Kyle and Katina Connaughton’s Healdsburg dream to inspire you. Or make you very, very jealous. Or very, very angry. Player’s choice.

The Big List: Eater’s roving national restaurant editor Bill Addison came out with his 38 Best Restaurants in America yesterday. Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns tops the list, which includes a mix of both traditional picks and nods to less generally celebrated spots, like Al Ameer in Dearborn, Michigan. Restaurants had to be at least 18 months old to be included, and couldn’t be on the verge of closing either. (That knocked off Oxheart in Houston.)

The Rabbit Hole: As you may have heard, a man walked into a family pizza place in DC on Sunday, and fired a rifle because he was convinced Comet Ping Pong was trafficking kids for the pleasure of assorted billionaires and high-level Democrats. In order for you to fully understand this story, I’m going to link to the rabbit hole – a “#pizzagate primer” by one of the conspiracy-theorists – here. It is a scary look at how a few FALSE premises and a whole lot of free time – plus, truckloads of homophobia – can build a case convincing enough to send a man with a loaded gun into a family restaurant, and (probably) on to jail after that. Don’t forward it to your more gullible friends, please.

NB: I will not post that link on, as that would give these guys extra SEO / permanent publicity.

Feel like you need a shower after that? Let Saveur take you on a tour of traditional cheesemakers in Switzerland. Much better.

Chicago’s food truck rules stand: After a long court battle, the Tribune saysthe judge wrote “in her ruling that the case pitted ‘restaurants against the young pop star — the food truck,’ but… ‘food trucks may be regulated in a manner that balances the needs of the community, which includes the interests of the brick-and-mortar restaurants.’” In practice, that balance means food trucks will still have to stay at least 200 feet away from brick-and-mortars, who have been conspicuously silent after the ruling.

But the Zion Curtain may be coming down: In Utah, a 2009 law that mandates “a wall at least 7 feet 2 inches high – taller than Utah Jazz icon Karl Malone – to shield patrons [in bars] from seeing alcohol being mixed, poured or prepared” could be on its way out soon. “State Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Democrat who tried to abolish the Zion Curtain in the last legislative session, said the law “creates a weirdness level we don’t deserve… The weirdness factor costs Utah jobs. It costs us tourism.”

This Family Meal is brought to you by: Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), New York’s first museum with exhibits visitors can eat, now featuring its first-ever cultural exhibition, Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant. The multisensory exhibition chronicles how the Chinese immigrant community overcame prejudice and created one of the country’s most beloved cuisines, while providing an immersive experience for both the mind and the palate. Chow includes 200 curated historical artifacts, a colorful timeline of menus from 1910 to 2016, a working 1,500-pound fortune cookie machine, and a tasting at the ChowCulinary Studio. Tickets for Chow can be purchased on, as well as at the door of MOFAD Lab (62 Bayard St in Brooklyn), where the exhibition is on view on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

“Bar Crenn is born” – So sayeth Dominique Crenn in her instagram post announcing she’s taking over the old Cellar Door spot next to Atelier Crenn and turning it into what the SF Chronicle is calling her “ode to wine bars” (read: wine bar).

SF’s Range “evolving” – The 12-year veteran of Valencia in the Mission is shuttering with 10 years left on its lease. In the Chronicle, “Co-owner Cameron West said they plan to hold onto the space and eventually turn it into something more suitable to what she dubbed the ‘new Valencia corridor.’”

Soto closing in the West Village: EaterNY reports that with two Michelin stars under his belt, “Chef Sotohiro Kosugi… plans to relocate to Japan.”

Le Dame de Pic opens next month at the Four Seasons Trinity Square in London, but superstar (six-Michelin-star superstar, to be exact) chef Anne-Sophie Pic tells Bloomberg the menu is still being planned. “London is very competitive for restaurants, so don’t give me too much pressure.”

While you were sleeping: Someone took that hipster throwback breakfast place from your hometown and started building an anti-IHOP empire. Snooze, “An A.M. Eatery” based out of Denver since 2006, just scored a round of funding from NY private equity group Stripes (“previous investments have included Blue Apron, GrubHub”) to keep expanding like crazy across the country. “Locations are open only eight hours and yet the chain boasts unit volumes of $2.9 million.”

And finally: McDonald’s, which I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned in this newsletter, is trying to revamp its coffee brand yet again. Meh. BUT, I am oddly excited about this cheesy (no pun) looking new Ray Kroc biopic starring Michael Keaton. Trailer here.

See you Friday. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or enough Uber credit to get me to Stone barns to

A note to PR folks: I’m especially interested in news about up-and-comers in your kitchens. And for food writers and newspaper types: send links you think’ll fit, and I’ll see if I can fit ’em in!

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