Hello, hello, and welcome back to Family Meal,
First things first: It’s a girl! Vivienne was born on January 2nd, and your exhausted narrator decided to take one month off to celebrate. It was very European of me, I know. But I’m back.
And so is Family Meal. Here we go…
First, goodbye to a legend: Frank Pellegrino Sr. died on Tuesday at 72 years young. His NYT obituary is basically just a list of times he said “no” to people trying to get tables at Rao’s. It is a joy to read. Quote: “’I don’t need no money, fortune or fame,’ he was said to have crooned as he rebuffed the investor Warren E. Buffett one night. ‘I’ve got all the riches, baby, one man can claim.’”
A Most Delicate Dance in D.C. – How to deal with the elephant in town? After local sub shop impresario Casey Patten shook Trump’s hand and posed for the cameras, social media got angry and his Taylor Gourmet company had to issue a statement. Even the city’s most beloved chef – one José Andrés – couldn’t quell the fury. (You’ll recall something similar happened to Buttercream Bakeshop when they baked a cake for the inauguration, though that had a little to do with creative license as well). And Trump fans are getting (staying?) riled up too – I don’t recommend reading the Pepe-inspired comments on Chef Andrés’s Twitter feed. The NYT’s solution to all this bad blood? Just hang back and hope Ivanka shows up to your restaurant without her dad.
Looking for some good news? The SF restaurant industry came together and raised a ton of money for Ichi Sushi chef Tim Archuleta recently. He announced a while back that he was pausing the business due to health problems, so folks chipped in over $45k to help get him back on his feet.
Big name renovations continue: While Thomas Keller is still busy fixing up the French Laundry and planning a hotel (perhaps some Single Thread envy?), Eleven Madison Park has decided to go the reno route as well. “The three Michelin-star restaurant will close this summer so the team can renovate both the dining room and kitchen, multiple sources close to the restaurant tell Eater.”
The Openings: If you’ve been out of it for a bit (and I have…) Eater NY has a helpful new rundown of some of the bigger openings happening soon-ish in NYC. Highlights: 13k square feet of DaDong; an East Coast outpost of LA’s Gjelina / Gjusta pairing; the new Daniel Humm / Will Guidara project; and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s abcV.
PSA: Restaurateurs might want to take a quick look at Restaurant.com – Seems the primo web address may be selling gift certificates without permission, leaving restaurants to either piss off customers or sell food at a loss.
A bit of wine history – Had to include this story from NPR because… there are wine cellars built into the Brooklyn Bridge! “[Bridge engineer Washington] Roebling saw an opportunity to offset some of the bridge’s massive $15 million construction costs. It was an ingeniously perfect fit. The design of the bridge would allow for two wine cellars, one on each shore, along with several other vaulted chambers, to be incorporated into construction…. Roebling’s plan worked, both architecturally and financially… And as the vaults became home to wines from across the globe, the dingy walls of the cellars were enhanced to reflect that heritage. The winding maze of caverns was transformed into a painted ‘labyrinth’, with the names of French streets—-Avenue Les Deux Oefs, Avenue Des Chateux Haut Brion— stenciled overhead.” Read the full story (with pic) here.
The other Musk on the move – Kimball Musk, that is. NRN says the tech entrepreneur, “known for his full-service concept The Kitchen bistros… founded with chef Hugo Matheson and Jen Lewin” plans an expansion of his more casual Next Door concept to 50 units by 2020.
This Family Meal is brought to you by Add Passion and Stir: Big Chefs, Big Ideas, a weekly podcast about inspirational people who are changing the world. In each episode, Billy Shore, the creator of the No Kid HungryCampaign (www.strength.org), brings together prominent change-makers and guests from the culinary world to discuss how food is at the intersection of social transformation.
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Phil, Phil, Phil… Sigh. If anyone is in need of a PR makeover, it’s Phil Tadros of the Bow Truss coffee shops in Chicago. Unfortunately, instead of calling in a professional to make him look like less of a jerk, he has opted to sue a celebrity (Marcus Lemonis, TV’s The Profit) and blame his problems on others. Per Eater Chicago: “Lemonis signed a letter of intent to buy Bow Truss for $3.25 million in mid-December. The deal fell through, as Tadros’ employees… began speaking publicly on how they weren’t being paid. Lemonis claimed Tadros hid how much debt Bow Truss had accrued and backed out. That led to the closures of all 11 Bow Truss coffee shops in early January… The [$26.2M] lawsuit alleges Lemonis’ posturing made it hard for Tadros to negotiated with creditors and employees.”
Clubstaurant $$$ – “Madison Square Garden Company says this morning it paid $181 million for a 62.5% stake in a new company called Tao Group. It specializes in what the companies call ‘entertainment and nightlife venues.’” That means that Tao, with its 19 locations, is now valued at nearly $300M… Full story on Deadline.
ICE at the bar –According to the Washington Post, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Las Vegas allegedly ordered a Homeland Security raid on Club Yamang, a “popular Korean supper club”, and forced the owners to wear electronic tracking devices without a court order. “The lawsuit brought by those owners claims that ICE special agent Joohoon David Lee had been harassing the restaurant owners and employees in exchange for copious amounts of free food and drinks at a rival Las Vegas supper club, Club Sonagi, also popular for its Korean food, music and attractive hostesses.”
And finally, Salt Bae IRL – Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, the man behind the Salt Bae phenomenon, is looking for an NYC location to capitalize on his online popularity. If he personally comes out of the kitchen to salt steak for celebrities, my guess is he’ll do just fine stateside.
Oh yeah, and once upon a time TGI Fridays was a hip, swinging, singles joint. “It was New York City, and the year was 1965…”
That’s it for today. See you on Tuesday, and hope you get more sleep than me in the meantime!
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