The Family Meal – Friday, July 13th, 2018

Hello Friday the 13th,

Wrapped up the RISE conference here in Hong Kong yesterday with an awkward 20 minute talk and follow-up Q&A from Marco Pierre White, who was attending a startup conference in Asia for… no idea. He responded to the only question about apps and startups by brandishing his OS-less Nokia and laughing that they “were asking the wrong person. I haven’t even sent an email in years.”

Asked for his reaction to #metoo and Mario Batali, White got defensive and said he hadn’t heard very much about it because he doesn’t “read newspapers or watch TV, madam.” Sure.

He also said “there’s the odd vegan and the odd gluten-free, but you couldn’t build a business out of them”.

I guess what I’m saying is: I’m starting a new investment fund based entirely on White’s extremely on-trend worldview. Venmo me.

Let’s get to it…

The fire sale – Per “The sale of most of Jose Garces’ restaurant empire was approved Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden for about $8 million in cash and assumed liabilities. As part of the sale, a new entity — 3BM1, a partnership between Louisiana-based Ballard Brands and local investor David Maser — will assume control of AmadaTintoVillage Whiskeythe Olde BarJG DomesticVolvér, and Garces Events.  It also will control management contracts that operate Olón and Okatshe in the Tropicana in Atlantic City, Amada and Distrito in Ocean Resort in Atlantic City, CHUBB Conference Center in Lafayette Hill, and Ortzi in New York City. Distrito in University City and Buena Onda, not affected by the bankruptcy, will remain open but will not be operated by 3BM1.” Garces will serve as 3BM1’s chief culinary officer. Details here.

The fire – “Longtime, popular Midtown Chinese restaurant Szechuan Gourmet went up in flames on Tuesday night, with the New York City Fire Department pointing to ‘careless cooking in [the] kitchen with extension into duct work’ and no smoke alarms as the cause of the fire that injured 15.” Patch says FDNY put up four alarms “which means more than 140 emergency personnel responded to the scene.”

The slow burn – Death throes at Mario Batali’s La Sirena? Exec chef Anthony Sasso and exec pastry chef Thea Habjanic are on their way out, per Eater, and kitchen size, staff numbers, and table count have all been shrinking lately. “Rumors continue to swirl at the restaurant and at the company that La Sirena would be the first of Batali’s New York restaurant to close post-scandal, sources say.”

That Restaurant OS $$$ – Headpun in Forbes: “Investors Slather A $1.4 Billion Valuation On Restaurant Software Maker Toast.” The POS / staff scheduler / BOH management startup raised $115M for their Series D, bringing total funding so far to $249M. CEO Chris Comparato says they’re “still in early innings of adoption” (Translation: We’re not overvalued. This market is huge and there’s still a ton of monthly fees out there).

That fast casual $$$ – “Former Minton’s and the Cecil chef JJ Johnson has officially signed a lease in Harlem for the fast-casual grain concept he previewed earlier this year at Chef’s Club Counter.” Details in Eater NY.

The expansion – Via the SF Chronicle: “Michelin-starred San Francisco chef Melissa Perello, the chef-owner of Frances and Octavia in San Francisco, is taking her talents to Southern California with a forthcoming, unnamed restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. It’s the chef’s first expansion outside of the Bay Area.”

The (Canadian) reveal – The “worst kept secret” in Toronto is out: After severing ties with her Montreal bar Agrikol, and announcing she’ll be shuttering The Black Hoof by summer’s end, outspoken restaurateur Jen Agghas taken over the old Swan and will be converting it into Le Swan with Hoof chef James StantonGrey Gardens bar manager Greig David, and GM / Somm Jake Skakun. “Firm September opening.”

The vacancy – Georgie, which Food Network personality and New York City chef Geoffrey Zakarian opened inside the ground floor of the ritzy MontageHotel in Beverly Hills, will close for service this Sunday, July 15.” Details in Eater LA.

For design fans – A handful of good photo spreads from Eater this week:

First up we have Alvin Cailan’s follow up to his Eggslut phenomenon: The Usual. It’s got a towering millennial pink and brass bar area (so: the usual), herringbone floors, and an interesting choice of basic, bright white chairs I haven’t seen a lot of lately, BUT the only thing the comments section is concerned with are the menu prices, where the cheapest beer is a $10 bottle of Lagunitas. Good luck!

Then there’s all the money that went into Free Rein at Chicago’s St. Jane hotel, where a set of agnes-esque(?) chandeliers handle lighting, and the booths are all a step above the main floor (an urge I get and look I like, but probably an unnecessary complication for guests and staff, hence the handrails?).

And last but not least, I’m a huge sucker for wicker chairs and palm fans in a (semi) tropical setting, and I’d love to know more about the decision making behind the concrete booths on the patio at Dama in Downtown LA, but what I really want to highlight here is the shoot timing. They got the patio in day and the bar at night. I see so many bars and restaurants that are clearly nightspots getting bad pictures taken in the noonday sun. Light your candles. Fire up the neon. Wait for dark.

For the somm – Critic moves at Wine Spectator: “Napa bureau chief Kim Marcus has been appointed lead taster for the state’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, and senior editor James Molesworth will become lead taster for Cabernet Sauvignon.”

And last but not least – Graphic designer Bobby McKenna shared some ads and illustrations he made for David Chang’s Ando before it went bust. They’re pretty fun (and up for grabs?).

And that’s it for today. Good luck to everyone in D.C. under a boil water advisory this morning. Here’s hoping everything’s working fine in time for service!

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next family meal.

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

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