This post originally appeared on April 11, 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.
I’m just going to say straight out I haven’t been doing what I should be doing for the restaurant community during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been a good consumer, buying as much wine and product, merch and gift cards as I can from small businesses, especially in my neighborhood. I feel good about my role as a leader of a news organization and the work my team has done to highlight all the important issues and struggles on the local and national level.
But I’m feeling real guilt about my lack of work on a personal level, when it comes to giving money and time or being vocal about the current crisis on social media. Oftentimes people send me flyers to put up on my Instagram or messages to tweet and it seems so empty and performative. How is a hashtag going to do anything?
But then how is doing nothing and wallowing in despair helpinganyone?
So, I decided yesterday I need to get out of my funk and actually try to help. I’m telling you this in the off chance you, too, are paralzyed by the scale of this problem. My plan of action:
- Create a budget for donations, based on my usual annual charitable giving. I’ll keep a reserve of that money to give over the next couple of months as new initiatives pop up.
- Choose where I’d like to focus the money. Right now, I’m planning to divide attention between feeding the front line workers (I’m thinking Treats Help and Share a Meal), national charities focused on restaurant workers and owners (Restaurant Workers Community Foundation), community kitchens (The Lee Initiative), and something that’s not about food at all (would love suggestions).
- Find ways to offer time. For example, I just learned a restaurant near me is looking for people to transport meals to hospitals and I happen to have a car. I’m also inspired by my interview with Ed Lee this week (please listen) to bring some Easter candy to the community kitchens in Brooklyn this weekend.
And, of course, I’ll just keep buying up as much wine and gift cards from my locals as possible. If we are friends, you know what your holiday gift will be this year.
Illness: More coronavirus cases have hit the restaurant community, in what I fear is only the start of a wave that will hit hard. Confirmed illnesses this week include Keith McNally and Nancy Silverton, and deaths include a beloved butcher in New York and restaurant owners in Seattle.
News to know: LA is asking residents to skip grocery store runs; Yelp laid off 1,000 employees and furloughed 1,100 others; major restaurateurs are pushing lawmakers (and the presdient) and suing to get insurance companies to cover COVID-19-related business interuption costs; restaurants are having troubles getting their moneyfrom GoFundMe campaigns; and bakers in San Francisco are leaving sourdough starter all around the city.
Delivery beat: A number of notable restaurants and restaurant groups, including Sqirl in LA, One Off Hospitality in Chicago, Donald Link’s restaurants in New Orleans, and restaurants across Detroit have ceased delivery and takeout after assessing the health risks; meanwhile Caviar and its parent delviery service Doordash will slash commissions for restaurants while Grubhub is fighting SF City Hall to maintain its cut.
Innovative fundraisers: Some out-of-work industry workers in Dallas are selling nudes to raise money; an Etsy seller made Jose Andres prayer candles; a bunch of amateur and pro artists are selling drawings on Instagram; and high-end restaurants are selling off trophy bottles.
Traditional relief: Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah, and Laurene Powell Jobs donated millions to start a new fund that will mainly work with World Central Kitchen to feed people in need; Guy Fieri pledged to raise $100 million; Rachael Ray is giving $2 million; Rick Bayless is feeding 800 out of work industry workers a week; more community kitchens are popping up in Dallas, Oakland and Sonoma, Detroit, D.C., and inside the Nationals Stadium. Meanwhile, relief funds are completely overwhelmed, food pantries are completely overwhelmed, and schools are picking up the slack.
And while you’re home
If you would like to know about the best delivery options, wholesalers doing home delivery, and more, we have giant service guides in New York, LA, Portland, and San Francisco and some fantastic maps in every single city site so go check them out.
Once you have your order, here’s how to make your takeout look good.
If you are trying to get into baking, you might be wondering, what is yeast anyway? And if you need a starting place, here are the best Smitten Kitchen recipes and best Ina Garten recipes, according to Eater editors.
This week on the podcast
Daniel and I talk to chef Ed Lee about the community kitchens he’s set up across the country and the heartbreaking decisions he has to make on a daily basis. Then we talk about the biggest stories of the week.
- How beloved Texas supermarket H-E-B was well-prepared for the pandemic. [Texas Monthly]
- All your questions about grocery shopping answered. [Vox]
- Chef Hugh Acheson’s poweful articulation on how fucked restaurants are. [Atlanta Magazine]
- Dining along the empty freeways of LA. [NYT]
- A new movement to help Chinatowns through this. [Grub Street]
- Bodegas are always there for you in a crisis. [NYT]
- How the novel coronavirus is impacting the real estate market across the U.S. [Curbed]