This post originally appeared on October 17, 2020 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.
From the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve known that bar owners and workers were at a special disadvantage during this time. In many areas, bars were the first to close and will be the last to return. They navigate increasingly complex laws and restrictions, from bans on to-go cocktails (Oregon is a late holdout here) to arbitrary food requirements.
Bars dependent on tourism or nearby music venues are in dire straits. Same with bars that are music venues. And dives. And clubs. And karaoke bars. Just consider the fact that bars in New Orleans, of all places, were just allowed curbside service late last month and can finally serve outside this week.
Drinking in America, the package that we put together spanning our vast network of local city sites, covers all of those challenges and gets a temperature check on a variety of operations, from beach dives in LA to nightclubs in Miami to slashies in Chicago. Struggle is a common theme. For many small businesses, this is an extinction event. For many more, this is just the latest obstacle in a world and an industry where the odds are stacked against them.
Yet another common theme is resilience. Breweries are now co-working spaces, dives are partnering with food trucks in Texas, drag shows are happening on the street in Philadelphia. Nashville honky-tonks are trying their best to make it work. Somms are starting wine clubs and Zoom classes. Bartenders all over the country are intent on providing professional development for BIPOC newcomers to the industry. One place has been saved by something called a Fauci Pouchy.
It’s tempting to look only at the adaptability and grit and paint the rosy picture of an industry getting by through creativity and necessity. And it’s equally tempting to focus on the outrage and devastation and dreams lost. Really, it’s everything at once, all with a backdrop of fear and inspiration.
— Openings: Atlántico, a new “wildly simplistic” seafood spot in Boston, Le Dix-Sept Patisserie, a bright and compelling new bakery in San Francisco; and Nice Day, a Chinese-American spot from Junzi’s Lucas Sin, in New York.
— A woman was killed and many were injured when a car slammed into an outdoor dining space in San Jose, California.
— Alinea will open a temporary patio location at the Ace Hotel in Chicago this fall.
— Restaurant- and bargoers in London can only dine out with people within their own household.
— SF’s lauded Californios is upgrading to the spot formerly occupied by Bar Agricole.
— Chef Naomi Pomeroy’s groundbreaking Portland, Oregon, restaurant Beast will not reopen in its current location.
— Chef Tory McPhail stepped down from New Orleans’s famed Commander’s Palace after 19 years to move to Montana (the dream!). His replacement, Meg Bickford, is the first woman to run the kitchen in the restaurant’s 110-year history.
— Michelin will suspend its guide in California for the year.
— Chef José Andrés will bring his New York restaurant Spanish Diner to Bethesda in a former Jaleo space.
Joy and Miscellany
— Health experts weigh in on how to trick-or-treat safely (and whether or not a bucket of candy at the end of the driveway will suffice).
— A TikTok star in Seattle is using the platform to highlight immigrant-run mom-and-pop shops.
— Beautiful piece about how we think we travel for the food, but actually, we like the food so much because we’re traveling.
— Come for the beautiful dumpling porn, stay for the story of a Bernal Heights restaurant straddling the line between cheesy, taco-inspired potstickers and traditional XLB.
— How and why all these big Bay Area names are turning to podcasting.
- Obsessed with this charity bringing the hospitality mindset to the people in need in their community. [BonApp]
- Outdoor dining might make restaurants even less accessible for the disabled. [The Counter]
- Exploring the smells of Los Angeles. [NYT]
- For many new pantry brands, the direct to consumer model is helping them break past traditional gatekeepers and barriers. [Taste]
- When the cause of an Upper West Side NIMBY campaign was helped by some MAGA trolls. [Curbed]