The Family Meal – Friday, April 6th, 2018

Hello Friday,

Lots to get to, so let’s get to it…

Mike Isabella Concepts  Tuesday’s headline in the Washington Post read: “Mike Isabella’s restaurants used nondisclosure agreements to silence sexual harassment accounts, lawsuit alleges”. But the nearly 4,000-word article by Maura Judkis and Tim Carman alleges a lot more than that, including new accusations against chefs Matt Robinett and Nick Pagonis, and (at least as a willing bystander) business partner Taha Ismail.

There’s the drunken team trip to Spain where things went too far, the drunken staff night at GWARbar where things also went too far, the constant grabbing of a hostess, and some quality customer interactions thrown in for good measure (“If you show us your tits, I’ll buy you some food.”). Even strangers chime in with what they overheard Isabella say on train rides (“she mentioned that she was planning to freeze her eggs, and Isabella said he would fertilize them for her”).

And yet, the full on denial coming from Isabella’s team in D.C. is truly spectacular. Read this, apply it to any corporation anywhere, and tell me if you believe it: “Isabella said in a statement: ‘Employees’ complaints were never ignored by managers at Graffiato.’” Never!

The Washington Nationals: Sure, Mike, but just to make things clear, we’re going to replace your stadium restaurant with a charity operation called Grace’s Kitchen that “will offer a rotating menu of items developed by local female business owners, chefs and restaurateurs; the featured female partners and dishes will change throughout the season.” First up: Jamie Leeds and Carla Hall.

The Media – Heads up in the East Bay, where Janelle Bitker has moved up to Managing Editor at the East Bay Express. She will “continue to review restaurants, but Momo Chang will take over food news coverage. Tell her your industry secrets!” Contact info here.

The Spotlight – Author Julia Turshen launched an incredible new resource on Wednesday, and Amanda Kludt has the details here: “Debuting today, Equity at the Table (EATT) is a slick, searchable database of activists, bakers, lawyers, authors, chefs, and other food industry professionals composed of women/gender-non-conforming individuals, most of whom are people of color and in the LGBT community. Built as a resource both for storytellers and conference organizers who all too often lean on the known and already celebrated voices and for people within marginalized communities who want to lift each other up and find allies, EATT aims to act as a directory and community for all.” If you fit the bill, add yourself here.

The Partnership – The NYT has new details on a Pastis comeback at 52 Gansevoort: “It looks as though the restaurateur Keith McNally’s wildly popular echo of a Parisian hangout, which opened in 1999 and is credited with jump-starting what became the meatpacking district, will be revived… Mr. McNally has a new partner in the venture, Stephen Starr.”

The Close – Bryan Voltaggio has shuttered Range, his “hugely ambitious, 14,000-square foot [D.C.] concept.” Details and next moves – including “a still-unnamed restaurant within the forthcoming luxury Conrad hotel at CityCenterDC next year” – in The Washingtonian.

That fast casual $$$ – By CHLOE, the New York City-based fast-casual vegan restaurant that opened in 2015 with a similar service model to Danny Meyer’s hit burger chain [Shake Shack], recently received $31 million in funding from Bain CapitalKitchen FundCollaborative FundTGP International/Qoot International, and other strategic investors to expand to 20 locations in the US and internationally, Moneyish has exclusively learned.”

P.S. – Save a thought for “award-winning vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli, who in 2016, filed a lawsuit against [by CHLOE co-founder Samantha Wasser] and her father [ESquared Hospitality restaurant group CEO James Haber] regarding a dispute over the terms of their partnership. She has since severed ties with the brand.” No VC cash for Chloe.

That fast casual $$$ too – Eater reports that “Fransmart, the franchise developer behind the national proliferation of Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Qdoba Mexican Grill” is taking on two new brands: Mamoun’s in NYC, and Curry Up Now in the Bay Area. Would love to see the details of these deals (hint hint, tipsters)…

Deconstructivist salmon pizza – Per Eater LA: “After several months of speculation and conjecture, it can now be revealed that none other than Wolfgang Puck is in line to potentially take over the Gladstone’s space right on the ocean at Will Rogers State Beach… What’s more, the new build on the site of the aging and outdated Gladstone’s would actually come from none other than architect Frank Gehry.”

For design fans – Here’s the photo spread for The Woodstock which Eater accurately describes as “designed to look like a 1960s den, complete with brown-leather furniture, a midcentury modern green couch, patterned rugs, lava lamps, and a pool table.” Marlon Brando whispers, “The wood paneling. The wood paneling.”

And last but not least, some free advice – That bookkeeper who embezzled $600k from Avec and Blackbird in Chicago has been arrested. The how-she-did-it details in The Sun-Times are worth a read if you want to keep the same thing from happening to you. The final advice she offered her accusers when they discovered her fraud: “Make sure the next bookkeeper you hire doesn’t do the bank reconciliations as well.”

That’s it for today. If you’re working this weekend, I hope you do enough covers that $600k could go missing unnoticed.

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

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

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