The Family Meal – Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Hello Friday,

A bit of a slow news week in food, but not a slow news week for the people who produce food news…

The Media – If you’re looking around for GothamistDCistChicagoistSFistLAist, or DNAinfo, they ain’t here anymore. Their owner closed them all after staff at some voted to unionize. I can’t even link to past stories here because the entire enterprise has just up and vanished, BUT it looks like the archive may survive and be available again at some point. To be seen. NYT story on closures here. (UPDATE: There is some kind of retrieval tool here. I don’t pretend to know how it works. Use at your own risk.)

Meanwhile on a national level, Condé Nast is cutting some of its output too, with GQ and Bon Appétit each dropping an issue a year: “According to sources, GQGlamourAllure and Architectural Digest will go from 12 issues to 11; Bon Appétit will go from 11 issues to 10, and W and Condé Nast Traveler will now have eight issues, down from 10.”

Over at Eater they’re promoting some new, digital, anonymous tip-lines if you’re looking to drop some dirt.

Minibar, here he comes? – Per the Hill yesterday, Donald Trump said: “In Washington you do have some great restaurants, and I’m going to start going to them… they say, ‘He should go to other places.’ And I never thought of it, and I’m going to start doing it.”

The Numbers – The NYT is out with a new take on the restaurant bubble story: “Thanks to Wall Street, There May Be Too Many Restaurants.” Don’t let the Illinois exurb background fool you, the same thing is happening with fast casual in cities big and small: “Overall restaurant sales are growing, but the pace is the slowest it has been since the recession… while individual chain restaurants have reported drops in customers and sales.”

In related news, food still sells: “When the fashion designer Todd Snyderdesigned his flagship store along East 26th Street in New York, instead of planning it around his smart collections, he made the centerpiece a tapas bar and restaurant known as the El Rey Annex, which opened after Labor Day. The decision makes business sense… ‘I wanted to make it easier for people to shop,’ Mr. Snyder said of his new cafe. ‘A cafe softens the place, making it less about shopping and more about community, where you are eating food, drinking wine, hanging out with your friends. Just a store is boring and you can do this online.’”

The Label – Civil Eats is hosting a point / counterpoint discussion on some big, small ag news: “[The National Organic Standards Board] is considering proposed changes to the National Organic Program (NOP) to include aquaponic, hydroponic, and aeroponic crops in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic certification.”

Point in Civil Eats: “The biology of a system is what makes it organic, not the medium the plants are grown in.”

Counterpoint in Dan Barber’s recent tweet: “No way. Nope. Organic is soil based. Period. Everything else is pretending.”

The Profile Treatment – Oakland’s Preeti Mistry gets a write-up in Munchiesvia Mayukh Sen, which touches on her dustup with the Thomas Keller side of the industry via this lede / quote / provocation: “You wanna know about the shitstorm?” The article also goes deeper into her life, career, Juhu Beach Club, and what’s next (“A period of fecundity”).

The 57 Year Career – A profile and farewell for legendary Trader Vic’s hostess Claudette Lum is in the SF Chronicle this week: “At the end of this year, Lum will retire after 57 years with Trader Vic’s: 35 years at its location near San Francisco’s Union Square, and another 22 on the Emeryville Wharf.”

The (Book) Review – Jen Agg’s “I Hear She’s a Real Bitch” got its Times review this week, and in a review of the review, former Eater editor Helen Rosner calls Tamar Adler’s take “inexplicably vindictive, hostile writing,” and “a nuclear bomb of bitchitude”. If you’re not sure what to think, Amazon offers a relatively large chunk of the book up for preview in the “Look Inside” feature.

Going solo in NY – Per The Low-DownRyan Bartlow (previously of Frankie’s SputinoBar Veloce, and Alinea among others) “is leaving Quality Eats to open a place called Ernesto’s at 259 East Broadway… The restaurant, his first solo project, is scheduled to open in the spring.”

Last and least – Hat-tip to Eater for going through the results of noma(1.0)’s estate sale / auction to see what René Redzepi was able to get for his detritus. There are some head-scratchers – Eater highlights $3k+ for a stuffed puffin; I want to talk to the guy who paid $625 for a felt “bread basket” – but for high-end furniture with a bit of history, there were also… “bargains”. Full list of items and final sale prices here.

And that’s it for today. Good luck to everyone running the NYC Marathon this weekend, including the Make it Nice running club as they raise money for No Kid Hungry!

See you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

P.S. – This is a crazy story I couldn’t quite fit in above: “Before he was accused of using his chain of Toby Keith restaurants to defraud developers out of tens of millions of dollars, Frank Capri was a ‘made man’ in the New York Mafia. Capri got a new identity through the Federal Witness Protection Program in 1999, and he used it to negotiate restaurant deals throughout the United States, take millions of dollars from mall owners and developers and then walk away.”

Just an average nobody.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or plans to inject old school journalism with outrageous amounts of new money to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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