The Family Meal – Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

By now you’ve seen the news that on Friday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was politely asked to leave a small restaurant in Virginia, and politely left. A predictably small, civil online debate over whether the restaurateur acted in the right morally, legally, and/or strategically has followed, but in lieu of adding my personal editorializing, I’ll trust you can find your way around the comments sections:

Eater: “Trump Officials Don’t Deserve Hospitality”

WaPo: “Let the Trump Team Eat in Peace”

NYT: “We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners”

One minor-but-interesting detail not getting a ton of attention: Word was obviously going to get out one way or another, but it was a staff member who first drew broader attention to the situation, by posting a picture of the overnight notes (“86 – SARA HUCKABEE SANDERS”) on Facebook.

And now, because you’re probably already getting bombarded with the above story everywhere else, let’s move on with a few drinks by the bay –

Shot: “$117,400 Salary Qualifies as ‘Low Income’ in S.F.” – SF Weekly

Chaser: “San Francisco Restaurants Can’t Afford Waiters. So They’re Putting Diners to Work.” – The NYT

Digestif: “Baumé in Palo Alto has two Michelin stars — and only two staff.” – The SF Chonicle.

The latter is a Jonathan Kauffman profile on the go-it-alone-story of Christie and Bruno Chemel: “At the time when Baumé earned its second Michelin star in 2011, Bruno oversaw six staffers in the kitchen. Christie managed six in the dining room. But Christie was tired of re-polishing glasses and re-cleaning the bathroom, constantly dragging her servers out of emergencies. Bruno was fed up with berating his cooks for all their mistakes and inexactitudes, not to mention the grumbling. After a lunch in 2012 at Guy Savoy in Paris, where the Chemels and two other tables were served by just the maître d’hotel, they wondered: Could smaller be better? It took the couple until 2015 to rip out the last extra tables and let go of their employees. Four tables a night, Christie quickly found, she could handle.”

Mama always said: If you want something done right, do it yourself and charge $800 per customer.

The profile treatment – Here’s Hilary Cadigan on “Georgia’s new king of Barbecue,” Bryan Furmanin Bon Appétit this week: “Though he’s been a restaurant owner and full-time pitmaster for just four years, Furman, 37, already sits among the greats…. Within months of opening his first B’s Cracklin’ BBQin Savannah in 2014, locals formed lines out the door on Saturdays after Little League to get a taste of Furman’s offerings… The little barbecue shack watched business double, then triple. Then, late one night in June 2015… a soda machine faultily loaded with too much freon exploded, launched 30 feet away, and took the entire right side of the building with it, burning down the rest in a fiery blaze. ‘Yeah, that happened,’ Furman says.”

“I hope he has 50 restaurants in the next 5 years.” – Killer Mike (video at bottom).

The profile treatment too – D.C.’s Rebecca Cooper has a profile on restaurateur Rose Previte, with some basic numbers on national press darling Maydan: “Maydan was a much bigger project, with a $1 million buildout and a third, silent investor. The space housed all of the infrastructure for the entire building, which meant the construction needed many more experts — architects, engineers — than when they built [her first restaurant Compass Rose] mostly on their own…. Maydan is already profitable — rare for a 6-month-old restaurant — and averages 180 diners in the dining room on weekdays and 230 on weekends. That doesn’t include those eating at the 14-seat bar.” Pro tip: Live fire sells…

Some sad news – From Eater Chicago: “The One Off Hospitality Groupfamily is mourning after co-founder Rick “Ricky” Diarmit died suddenly over the weekend while in New York where he was attending his daughter’s high school graduation. The 59-year-old handled the day-to-day operations at Blackbird, the pioneering West Loop restaurant that opened 20 years ago, and Avec next door. Blackbird was One Off’s first restaurant, kicking off the company’s growth into one of the country’s most successful restaurant groups, with a roster that now includes PublicanBig StarViolet Hour, and more.”

And in SF, the Chronicle reports Californios staff member Carlos Chan-Cocom, 33, “was shot and killed [early Friday morning] near his home on Harrison Street in the Mission District, a half-mile away from where he’d just gotten off work.”

For design fans – Congrats to chef Matt Baker on his new solo spot Gravitas in D.C. This photo spread shows a big, open, industrial-chic space – the bright version (less steel mill, more made-for-TV artist’s loft) – with simple, spindle back chairs at natural wood tables on a concrete floor. Great! But, in my best, most petty and irrational Dunaway/Crawford, I look up from the chef’s table seating and growl (to fine dining only): “No. Drop. Ceilings. Ever.”

That tech $$$ – POS giant TouchBistro closed a $72M Series D round a few weeks ago. They say they’re going to use the cash to build and grow, but… ask your rep for a discount?

The Suits – Not sure what to make of this, but former National Restaurant Association Executive VP of Public Affairs Cicely Simpson, appears to be teeing up potential legal action against the NRA according to a June 20 memo obtained by Politico. Eyeball emoji here.

Locol struggles – “Oakland’s only remaining location of Locol, an ambitious effort from chefs Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi to create a healthy fast food chain, has closed.” Choi tells Eater SF, “We are closed on the retail side for now… but please look into our catering services in Oakland and a new location at the Richmond BART station soon and of course San Jose.”

Last and definitely not least – Meant to include this article on Friday for Pride, but better late than never: “Building a Table for All: The Ascent of Queer Food Culture” in the NYT has a bit of everything: cultural scholarship, activism, a “dinner party craze”, and “dancing on the banquettes.” With shout outs (in no particular order) to chefs, writers, and industry types like: Charlie AnderleAngela DimayugaKristopher EdelenKristen KishJulia TurshenMichael TwittyLukas VolgerJohn BirdsallOra WiseBill ClarkLibby Willis, and more. Highly recommend.

And that’s it for today. If your restaurant starts with an R and rhymes with “Bed Hen”, good luck this week…

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

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

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