The Family Meal – Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Hello Friday (and June),

Quick note: If you’re getting this as a forward, sign up for yourself at Also, please feel free to forward this on!

And now, the (industry) news…

The CompetitionBlue Apron filed for $100M IPO this week, and page 5 of their pitch to investors makes it clear they are coming for your guests: “We believe that our business is poised to capture share from the grocery and restaurant markets.” Shocking, I know. If you need a little cheering up, Axios notes, “Blue Apron is unprofitable, reporting a loss of $54.9 million for 2016 on net revenue of $795.4 million. In the first three months of 2017, it lost $52.2 million on $244.8 million in revenue.”

And if you like spreadsheets with really big numbers (both positive and negative), this is the prospectus for you.

The (brutal) numbers in SF – “Of the 24 [Port of San Francisco] restaurants that list public sales reports, only ONE had a better Feb. 2017 than Feb. 2016. Most were down double-digits.” Full list in this tweet from Paolo Lucchesi.

On a happier note – Per Eater SF: “Chris Bleidorn (Saison, Atelier Crenn, Benu) hopes to make [what used to be AQ] his own by literally putting a bird on it. This Winter, Bleidorn plans to open Birdsong, ‘an ode to heritage cuisine’ of the Pacific Northwest, in AQ’s former SoMa digs.”

The Suits – Blue Hill at Stone Barns settles wage theft lawsuit for $2 million.
According to Eater NY, the class action alleged “Blue Hill shared tips with non-service employees like expeditors and didn’t share private event service charges with its service employees… as well as not paying the extra hour of pay required by the state for working more than 10 hours in a row.” If you use service charges or no-tipping strategy, Dan Barber might advise you to dust off that labor law pamphlet in the back office…

Sound Familiar? – DNA Info has this from Harlem: “Dinosaur Bar-B-Que shortchanged its employees by ‘unlawfully’ pocketing fees meant for staff during catered events at the popular chain restaurant, a new lawsuit claims.”

Also, if you are black and applied for a job at Rosebud restaurants in Chicago over the past few years, you may be entitled to a (probably small) piece of a $1.9M racial discrimation class action that just settled.

Gotta keep an honest man honest – Keeping tabs? D.C. restaurateur Ashok Bajaj (Rasika et al.) found himself briefly charged with assault after discovering a bit of the ol’ check tampering at Bibiana. “[Server Stephane] Cam’s alleged fraud was uncovered after a customer reported an inaccurate credit card charge. Bibiana conducted an audit of all of Cam’s checks and discovered 147 occasions, between May 13, 2016 and March 4 of this year, when diners were overcharged.” The Washingtonian reports Cam then accused Bajaj of an aggressive choke when Bajaj put a hand on the back of Cam’s neck and laid out the situation: “You are fucking up my restaurant.” Indeed.

This Family Meal is brought to you by World Central Kitchen‘s Dine N Dash event in Washington, D.C. On (this coming Wednesday!) June 7th, join hosts José Andrés, Andrew Zimmern, and Ted Allen for a tour of some of the District’s best restaurants. All proceeds go to support World Central Kitchen’s mission of using smart solutions to hunger and poverty to make sure food is an agent of change around the world. Tickets and more information here. PS – I’ll see you there!

Design Fans – The Chronicle has new pics of Christopher Kostow’s new Charter Oak in St Helena. I see: Industrial chic meets society club (lions!). The lighting… “skinny track”? And, of course, a rug that really ties the room together.

The Word is Out – Tell PR: If you’re pitching Esther Mobley at the SF Chronicle, do NOT call your new spot a “speakeasy”. She hates that word. “What about Wilson & Wilson, you ask, inside Bourbon & Branch? Or Marianne’s, inside the Cavalier? To which I say: There is nothing more difficult about obtaining entry to these than to any mildly popular restaurant in San Francisco. You just have to make a reservation.” To which I say: Ouch.

The Profile TreatmentLisa Lov followed her boyfriend to the kitchens of Copenhagen, and never left. “It was an ex-Noma sous chef, Christian Puglisi, who offered Lov the job at Relæ. A job as the absolute lowest-ranking chef on the floor. Møgpony—shit pony—as it’s known in the no-nonsense world of kitchen politics. Lov worked her way up to become sous chef, a position she held for five years, and this is where the story about [her new restaurant] Tigermom begins.” The rest of the story is in Munchies, here.

The Closures –

In Minneapolis: “The Twin Cities metro area is about to lose another fine-dining restaurant. Brewer’s Table, Surly Brewing Co.’s high-end, beer-focused restaurant, will close in early August. Chef Jorge Guzman will leave the southeast Minneapolis destination brewery… Aug. 5.” Full story, along with a sadly long list of recent upscale closings in the Star Tribune, here.

In Charleston: “If the shuttering of long-standing fine dining restaurant Cypress wasn’t soul crushing enough, then brace for some bad news about chefs Craig Deihl and Bob Cook’s side venture Artisan Meat Share. The Spring Street sandwich and charcuterie shop will dissolve on Sunday, June 4, to make way for a new concept.” – via Eater CHS.

Tell the bar – Tom Acitelli says a bi-partisan bill is making its way to Trump in the hopes of giving craft distillers the same kind of tax break that helped fuel the craft beer and wine industries over the past few decades. “The biggest thing standing in their way may be that teetotaler in chief…. Should craft distillers succeed, though, look for plenty more tasty artisanal tipples at your favorite local place — right behind all those colorful craft beer taps.”

Tell the Somm – This fantastic WaPo story features five stories of Mexican families working their way from pickers to owners as immigrants in California wine country. It’s heavy on hard-work-pays-off inspiration, and gave me a powerful note of wish-I-had-that-kind-of-vision jealousy: “In 1984, [Reynaldo Robledo] purchased a 13-acre junkyard in Carneros no one else wanted for about $126,000. He cleaned it up, planted vines and sold the grapes to Mumm Napa for sparkling wine. Today, Robledo Family Winery owns or leases 350 acres of vineyards in Carneros and Lake County.”

NB: A reputable inflation calculator tells me $126k in 1984 would be about $300k in 2017. Today, you can buy this ten acres (8.5 of which is planted merlot!) under some power lines in Napa for the bargain price of $2M (or about the cost of potentially mismanaging your tip-pooling processes… sorry, Blue Hill).

Last and Least: “The bar has started erasing user Facebook comments from its page.” That pretty much sums up the reaction to Chicago bar Bottled Blonde’s suddenly infamous dress code, where just one line reads: “No plain white tees, long tees, denim, flannel (not even around one’s waist), or zippers on shirts.” There are 28 lines of code

That’s it for today. Hope you get all the covers you want this weekend, and I’ll see you Tuesday!

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or links to reasonably priced vineyards to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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