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A New Restaurant Benefit That Seems Too Good to Be True

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

The interior of a daycare with orange bean baggies, cubbies filled with books, and plants. Frank Oudeman/Otto

This post originally appeared on October 19, 2019, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

This week I learned about a new exciting (lifechanging?) benefit restaurateur Camilla Marcus is offering the 30 staffers at her restaurant west~bourne in downtown New York: Free, flexible, and close childcare.

In much of America the average cost of childcare has exceeded the average cost of college. It is deemed unaffordable by pretty much every metric. In pretty much every region. For hourly restaurant workers, who oftentimes lack consistent schedules, work outside the hours of normal daycare operations, and don’t earn enough money to live close to their workplaces, finding safe and affordable childcare is an all-consuming problem.

Marcus met the founders of Vivvi, a VC-backed childcare startup that aims to build a more flexible, employer-sponsored daycare, and convinced them to extend hours to 2 a.m. for restaurant workers. Using federal and state incentives, she’ll be paying around $50 per day of childcare for her employees that want to use it. (FWIW, from what I’ve found market rate in NYC is around $125 - 200/day.) Instead of committing to a schedule, they can use it when needed.

As someone who pays the equivalent of a good full time salary for childcare for two children too young for public school, I’m sitting here wonderning what the catch is. Am I too credulous to think these well-intentioned people with big money backing and government credits can solve a seemingly intractible problem? And how can I sell my company on it?

On Eater

Spirit cocktail with chiseled ice in a glass at Yapa in Little Tokyo. Jakob N. Layman

This Week on the Podcast

Daniel and I discuss the dinner party. First’s Nisha Chittal takes us through the history and evolution of the dinner party. Then author Alison Roman discusses her new book Nothing Fancy and how she defines entertaining for a new generation. Then, as always, we talk about the biggest food stories of the week.

Off Eater

Take care, enjoy the weekend, and if you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend and consider signing up for the Editor’s Notes newsletter from my colleague Kelsey Keith. — Amanda