This post originally appeared on December 12, 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.
It took a pandemic, making consumers and restaurants increasingly dependent on delivery, for third-party platform DoorDash to finally eke out a profit after quarter upon quarter of losses in the hundreds of millions. It’s a company that exploits the vulnerabilities of gig workers, gouges its restaurant partners, preys upon restaurants that aren’t partners, and subverts government regulations. It’s not unique in its competitive set — it’s easy for both customers and restaurants to switch platforms — nor is it guaranteed to maintain profits post-pandemic.
As Ranjan Roy put it in the (wonderful) Margins newsletter earlier this year, “[DoorDash] was among the WeWorkian class of companies that, for me, represented everything wrong about startup evolution through the 2010s. Raise a ton of money, lose a ton of money, and just obliterate the basic economics of an industry.”
And in a week when more and more restaurants across the country closed due to the onslaught of indignities of this pandemic, DoorDash went public and is now worth $66 billion (though the number seems to be coming down a bit as of Monday morning).
— The mayor of Baltimore closed indoor and outdoor dining; New York — where some restaurants have abandoned heat lamps due to the FDNY’s onerous restrictions — will close indoor dining today; and restaurant owners in Los Angeles are facing lockdown fatigue.
— Daniela Soto-Innes left her role as chef-partner at New York restaurants Atla and Cosme. She will continue to work on her Vegas restaurant with partner Enrique Olvera, Elio, and does not appear to be involved in his LA restaurants, Ditroit and Damian.
— Workers at chef Spike Gjerde’s D.C. restaurant A Rake’s Progress allege he fostered a toxic workplace.
— Prisoners in Massachusetts lack consistent access to nutritious food.
— New York’s new fast-casual restaurant from an EMP alum, Milu, is a game changer.
— My favorite opening of the week, hands down, is Fart Cat, a candy store/ghost kitchen from a 7-year-old in Seattle.
— Checking in on the biggest mom-and-pops in San Francisco, restaurant owners dealing with 24,000 square feet of empty space.
— Watch: This fantastic piece on an incredibly hardworking master of Chinese barbecued pork in Toronto (and keep it trending on Youtube!).
- A new vision for the USDA and why this cabinet pick is more vital than you think. [NYT]
- It’s unimaginably hard to be a restaurant worker right now, mostly because customers are such assholes. [Grub Street]
- It’s also unimaginably hard to be a delivery courier right now, mostly because third-party apps (and some restaurant managers) suck. [The City]
- Keith McNally recounts the opening of his seminal restaurant Balthazar in New York. [VF]