The Family Meal – Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Hello Tuesday,

Dusting off the cobwebs here after a week’s vacation in the Midwest and Upstate NY, where I had the pleasure of spending a few days with one of the founders of the long gone Elysium Café from SF’s late 90’s Mission scene. Any readers remember those heady days? Don’t blame you if you don’t; he makes very stiff cocktails.

Let’s get (back) to it…

The Suits – Massive alcohol distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits is facing a potentially growing lawsuit filled with charges of fraudulent practices, including using legit restaurants’ liquor licenses to sell to unrelated (and unlicensed) businesses. It all started when San Jose nightclub owner James Nguyen found out he was being asked to pay taxes on tons of liquor he says was actually sold to other restaurants using his permits. Sales reps are also accused of logging false sales to make quotas while they hid the actual product to return it later.

Innocent until proven guilty, but you may want to check in on your account just in case.

A Stubb’s by any other name – Austin mainstay Stubb’s Bar-B-Q will have to change it’s name because McCormick owns the Stubb’s BBQ sauce brand and sued to avoid confusion.

The Chicago Shovel – This man knows how to dig himself a hole. Phil Tadros is now suing Crain’s for its coverage of his Bow Truss coffee chain troubles. I am placing a heavy bet that not only will he not win the $38M he’s trying for, but this will also wind up being a very expensive way for him to watch old bad coverage resurface as new bad coverage. (Free PR tip for Phil: If you don’t want to admit anything, just issue a non-apology for “past misunderstandings”, say you’re committed to doing right by everyone going forward, and throw in something about how much you love Chicago. Then put your head down and get back to work or whatever. Jesus. Though if the domestic battery accusations are true, you should probably issue a real apology and get some real help too.)

That hotel $$$ – In NYC, “Le Turtle’s Greg Proechel is leaving the Chrystie Street restaurant to open a new project this fall. The unnamed restaurant will open inside Made, a new hotel at 44 West 29th Street set to open Labor Day Week that will include a restaurant, hotel bar, and rooftop. Joining Proechel will be Charles Seich, a Major Food Group vet (Dirty French, Sadelle’s), who will oversee the operations in the front of house.” Details in Eater NY.

“Now employees” Also via Eater NY, on the heels of this week’s $130k labor settlement, there’s news that “Babu Ji has been rescued by Jeffrey Chodorow, the mega-restaurateur behind China Grill Management (Asia de Cuba, China Grill, Ed’s Chowder House). Chodorow and his son Zach Chodorow are now the owners of the new Babu Ji, confirms Chodorow. And they’re working with the former owners, Jessi and Jennifer Singh — now employees.”

Side note: The above article links to this great throwback story: “All time greatest open letters to critics written by restaurateurs.” It includes Chodorow’s 2007 missive to Pete Wells re a zero-star Frank Bruni review, and Keith McNally’s 2010 note about Adam Platt: “”[I]n your middle-aged world it’s axiomatic that busy, exuberant restaurants cannot and will not serve great food. This, unfortunately, is no less a form of prejudice than restaurateurs believing that bald, over-weight reviewers are incapable of reviewing lively downtown restaurants impartially.”

Speaking of critics – Janelle Bitker announced that she has joined the East Bay Express to review restaurants in Oakland. A quick Google Image search will yield plenty of good pics for your host stand. She is decidedly not anonymous.

REPLY ALL – Some poor soul accidentally attached a spreadsheet full of notes about customers to an “email blast” that included writer Hannah Goldfield, and she tweeted out some of the (30,000+!) line items. A lot of focus on the teardowns and 86’s in the replies, but I really like the plainly clarifying ones: “Ryan John Seacrest is an American radio personality, television host, and producer. He hosts talent competition American Idol.”

This Family Meal is brought to you by Devoured, a new food recycling service supporting restaurants and foodservice businesses. Devoured provides food waste composting services, supports food donation program implementation, and helps restaurants with their waste and recycling needs. Be a part of the national food waste conversation. Visit Devoured on twitter to follow their new graphic adventure (@_Devoured_).

L.A. Poké $$$ – “Less than two years after opening to the public along the Sunset Strip, West Hollywood’s Estrella is losing its star chef Dakota Weiss,” according to Eater LA, she plans to focus on her poké project, Sweetfin. Mirko Paderno will take over at Estrella.

Design Fans – Here’s Michael Mina’s new Chicago spot Margeaux Brasserie in the Waldorf Astoria. Lot of fun, classic looks, but for all that Mina / Waldorf money, you’d think they could’ve done better than a “fancy” drop ceiling…

Fireworks – D.C.’s original Mandu is shut indefinitely after a fire on the 4th of July. Owner Danny Lee is a lynchpin in the District’s restaurant scene, and has just opened his latest project, Chiko, with similarly beloved local chef, Scott Drewno.

Icon watchSFGate has it thatJulius’ Castle, the long-dormant Telegraph Hill landmark where generations of San Francisco families celebrated wedding anniversaries and graduations, will get a new lease on life after the Planning Commission voted Thursday to allow the restaurant to reopen.”

Last and Least – Want to get angry? This Buzzfeed article about Instagram influencers peddling an unproven “food intolerance” test made my heart go out to FOH everywhere. “Any allergies we should be aware of?” “Well, according to my celebrity-endorsed, mail-order blood test…” Ugh.

And that’s it for today. Sorry if a little rusty, but no more vacation in sight, so I’ll see you Friday for next Family Meal!

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

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