Coming to you live(ish) today from the RISE Conference in Hong Kong, where I’ve been talking to foodtech companies about innovation in Asia. Spoiler for restaurants: Startups here would like a cut of your orders from consumers, and a cut of your orders to suppliers. They promise these cuts are reasonable, and correspond to value added. Congrats.
Very much looking forward to Thursday’s panel with Marco Pierre White, entitled: “Be the boss, or be popular?” (Obvious third option: Be Springsteen.)
Let’s get to it…
Redemption Song – NOLA’s Alon Shaya occupies an odd corner of the #metoo moment. He wasn’t really directly accused of anything, but was tainted by his partnership with John Besh. At the same time, he tried to claim space as a good guy, saying he was fired from Besh Restaurant Group for his part in outing the problems there. It’s obvious from this sit down with Nola.com’s Brett Anderson that – despite the fact that his new restaurant has not suffered any apparent loss of customers – he still considers himself very much in public purgatory:
“In a blistering essay published by Food & Wine, the chef and writer Lisa Donovan held out Shaya’s post as an example of how ‘some men will always feel like we are the best tools for them to get what they need out of any given situation. Some men will stand on our necks while they tell us how strong we are so they can be taller.’ (Donovan did not name Shaya in the essay, but she confirmed over email that she was referring to him.) Shaya counters that he has backed up his words with action. He installed two women – chef de cuisine Cara Peterson and general manager Jessica Retif, both formerly of Shaya – atop Saba’s management structure. In the interview, he spent more time talking about Suzi Darré, a human resources vet who is [Pomegranate Hospitality]’s director of people and culture, than any other employee.”
Redemption Sale – In SF, “A little more than six months since stepping away from his restaurant company as dozens of employees accused him of sexual harassment, Charlie Hallowell has sold Penrose in Oakland. It’s the second restaurant he has sold since the scandal broke. Rico Rivera, a former employee of Hallowell’s restaurant Pizzaiolo and current executive chef at Flora in Oakland, told The Chronicle that he will be taking over as chef-owner of Penrose by October.” Details in the SF Chronicle.
For design fans – The New Yorker has a longform profile of interior designer “India Mahdavi, Virtuoso of Color”, and her influential minimal-chromatic work in spaces like the Ladurée tearooms in LA and Geneva, and Sketch in London (“There is a persistent belief that Sketch is the most Instagrammed restaurant in the world, but, according to Instagram, it is merely the most Instagrammed restaurant in London.”). If you like millennial pink, you are welcome.
For (non)design fans – The latest NYC cocktail bar from Dave Arnold (Booker and Dax), Don Lee (PDT), and Greg Boehm (Cocktail Kingdom) is called Existing Conditions because they kept the space exactly as they found it. Neat. But zero effort doesn’t equal cool. Photo spread here.
Tip Credit Redux – Re the recently-passed-by-popular-vote Initiative 77 bill that would eliminate the tip credit in D.C.: “On Monday, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans told a crowd of anti-77 protestors that on Tuesday, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and ‘a number of’ councilmembers would introduce ‘a bill to overturn Initiate 77’ during their last legislative session before the Council’s summer recess.” Trust the process?
Tip Credit Suits – “The Restaurant Law Center sued the DOL late July 6 for maintaining an Obama administration enforcement policy that mandated that tipped workers be paid the full minimum wage for the time they spend on tasks that don’t generate tips, provided those side duties make up at least 20 percent of their weekly hours. The RLC, the litigation arm of the National Restaurant Association, is asking a federal court in Texas to invalidate the policy as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.” That’s the gist in Bloomberg, but if you want more details on the RLC argument, (most of) the suit itself is a surprisingly easy read.
For the bar – Headline from David Wondrich in the Daily Beast: “Forget the Caribbean: Was Rum Invented in India? Newly discovered evidence suggests that rum production predates the Caribbean by at least 1,000 years and may have actually started in South East Asia.” What follows feels obvious (sugarcane was around, so people made booze from it), but Wondrich’s deep dive into the ancient texts is a lot of fun, and good for fresh cocktail inspiration if you need it.
Good get – Yesterday, Joshua Skenes announced on Instagram that Laurent Gras (previously of Guy Savoy and Restaurant Alain Ducasse in Paris, Peacock Alley in NYC, Fifth Floor SF, and L2O Chicago among others) will be joining the team at Saison. Presumably Josh wants to spend more time both on growing his group, and out in the (literal) field.
Tell PR (and writers) – Wine Enthusiast’s senior editor Layla Schlack is in the market for “FOB pitches for early 2019. Stories run 350 words. Here’s what I want: -Beverage trend stories that cover multiple cities/regions -New takes on how to pair food with wine -Q&As with big names.” Details in this thread.
And last and least – The NYT’s “What 8 Thirsty Scenesters Wore to the Broken Shaker Bar” is full of wonderful Q&A’s with guests (“NYT: Why are you’re waiting in line? Guest: It’s my friend’s bar. NYT: Your friends own it and you still have to wait in line? Guest: Friend of a friend. It’s my second day in New York.”) and staff (“NYT: What do you spend most of your time here doing? Server: Garnishing cocktails. Working here is a vibe.”) It is a… joy?
And that’s it for today. I’ll be at this RISE thing in Hong Kong all week, so if you have any questions for the people that have already sold $5.3M(!) worth of vegan cryptocurrency, please let me know.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.