The Family Meal – Friday, April 20th, 2018

Hello Friday,

A quick one for you today. (That was the intro.) Let’s get to it…

The Intercept – The National Restaurant Association “tapped a longtime Republican pollster to survey the public about a range of issues impacting the industry…. The poll — which was presented on a slide deck obtained by The Intercept and Documented — found that seven in 10 Americans want to see the minimum wage raised even if it means that they’d have to pay more for meals. It also found that the industry’s various talking points against raising the wage are mostly falling flat with the general public.” The Intercept’s analysis is here, but head over to that slide deck link for the real fun (if you enjoy egregious drop-shadow, and wordsmithing bland corporate talking points).

Re that question about raising the minimum wage “even if it also increases the cost of food and service to customers”: Sure, great, 7 in 10 respondents saythey’ll pay more for food. But, NB: the other 3 respondents said they would rather “Keep the federal minimum wage the same, even if the average food service employee can’t make ends meet.” Let them eat (last week’s) cake (at family meal)!

Side note: “The NRA paid its CEO, Dawn Sweeney, more than $3.8 million in total compensation, including a bonus of $1.7 million.” Good gig!

The Suits – A lawsuit from two of his very first backers likens Jose Garces’ restaurant empire to a Ponzi scheme, alleging he has been leveraging existing restaurants for $9M worth of new loans without consulting investors. On top of that, at least five suppliers are suing separately: There’s Julius Silvert Inc., seeking $848,000; “South Jersey firm, J. Abrogi Foods, seeking $54,000; First Choices Food Distributors, on Essington Avenue in South Philadelphia, seeking $80,000; and FarmArt, of Folcroft in Delaware County, seeking $86,000.” Details in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Damage control – “After more than 30 former employees accused him of sexual harassment in Chronicle investigations published in December and MarchCharlie Hallowell is selling Boot & Shoe Service, one of his three Oakland restaurants.” Husband/wife team Jen Cramer and Richard Clark will take over. Details here.

And in D.C., Mike Isabella may have had to shutter at least one of his restaurants, though when asked by the Washingtonian, his PR person denied the Mosaic District Requin had closed. (No reservations are available for the foreseeable future, so it’s in the Schrodinger’s box of either outrageously busy or done for.)

The (position) Profile Treatment – Fwd to your pass pals: Tejel Rao wrote an entire article on expediters for the NYT this week. “Some expediters speak of recurring dreams in which time compresses, and they race against it… They walk into a familiar kitchen, but it’s full of unreadable tickets.” (Sure, but I bet they also have the office nightmare.)

Just another list – The 2018 Time 100 list of “influential people” includes José Andrés and no other food world personalities. Make of that what you will.

For design fans – Here’s the photo spread for Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’s “first full-footed foray into Los Angeles’s modern Middle Eastern movement,” Bavel. One word description: Brunch. (Q: Am I the only one hoping this “Lucy” stool trend will wane?)

For the somm – Via Wine Spectator: “The owners of Heitz Cellars, one of the dominant producers in Napa Valley during its formative years, a champion of single-vineyard expressions and creator of one of Napa’s most distinctive and collectible wines, the Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard, have sold the winery to Gaylon Lawrence Jr. The sale includes more than 400 acres of vineyards. The purchase price was not disclosed… Lawrence is new to the world of wine, but not agriculture. His family owns farmland in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida, where they own one of the state’s largest citrus grove operations.”

Note to Mr. Lawrence: Wine writer Jon Bonne would like to get in touch.

The Critics – In SF, wine critic Esther Mobley took Bar Crenn down a notch, and I include it here because the lesson about expectations vs reality is so important. As Chronicle food editor Paolo Lucchesi puts it: “This review of Bar Crenn is thoughtful and thought-provoking, especially regarding expectations and value in modern SF. But it’s also a simple reminder that restaurants/bars should really, really put menus — with prices — on their websites.” Really.

Moving on – Per Eater LA: “Longtime Sqirl chef de cuisine Javier Ramos… has moved on from the mega-popular spot. He’s sticking around town though, saying [on Instagram] that he’s a ‘free agent’ for now.”

And last and definitely least – Turns out Bill Murray’s new “Caddyshack-themed” bar in Chicago is just an incredibly boring sports bar with a sprinkle of quotes and memorabilia. It doesn’t even try. It makes me sad. Don’t look.

And that’s it for today. If you’re Pete Wells, I hope you’re spending this weekend putting the finishing touches on a review of a restaurant run solely by a woman, because it’s been 7 months now…

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

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s