This post originally appeared on June 6, 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.
This was and continues to be an intense and painful week. However, in this moment I’m feeling a little hopeful. Hopeful that I can sit with my shame and anger and despair and discomfort and channel them into lasting action and education. Hopeful that the action I’m seeing on social media and in the streets persists into action in our everyday lives.
Also, I’m made hopeful by seeing so many people across the food industry bringing goodness into the world. Whether it’s a bartender raising money to hand out snacks at the protests or a restaurant owner stating loud and clear that he understands why his business was vandalized, that property damage means nothing compared to the loss of life, to the fight for justice. Whether it’s people in cities across the country compiling databases of black-owned businesses or leagues of restaurateurs donating their profits to social justice causes. Go to any Eater site today, and you’ll read about the restaurant community finding ways to support this movement. The cynic in me who at the beginning of the week thought the system was too broken to fix has given way to someone more motivated.
Obviously the disparities and inequities for black Americans don’t begin or end with police brutality. As it pertains to the restaurant world, black business owners lack the same access to capital and publicity, power and mentorship of their white counterparts. The differences are even more stark for workers. It’s on us in the media to report on the issues and try harder to highlight black-owned businesses, quote chefs and owners in more everyday stories, include them in trend pieces and features, video series and events, so that the information in those crowd-sourced guides doesn’t feel so new. It’s also on us to hire more black writers and editors.
At Eater, we’ve long tried to make inclusivity a pillar of all of our coverage (and hiring), but our work is far from done. It’s one thing to have a policy or guidance in a google doc or talk about it in meetings, but it’s wholly another to hold our reporters, editors, hiring managers, and myself accountable every day.
If you are a writer or restaurant owner (or really anyone) and want to discuss these issues more, learn about concrete steps Eater and Vox Media are taking, or want me to connect you with someone who may be helpful in my network, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re looking for food-related resources on how you can help in this time, I’m happy to point you in the right direction.
— Restaurants across the country closed, donated, provided space and food, and spoke out in solidarity of protesters marching and rallying against police brutality. More here from Dallas, Austin, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta, Portland, Oakland, Philadelphia. And here are restaurant owners pledging solidarity despite damage in D.C., New York City, and Austin.
— David McAtee, the owner of a barbecue business in Louisville, was killed by police during protests there.
— Many critics, including staffers at the LA Times, denounced the paper’s offensive op-ed from restaurateur Nancy SIlverton.
And the pandemic...
— This week in reopenings: dining rooms in Los Angeles, outdoor dining in Chicago, outdoor dining in much of New York state; Vegas casinos; Texas bar at 50% capacity, Michigan on Monday, bars in most of Florida, and much of Oregon.
— The senate passed a bill changing the restrictions around the Paycheck Protection Program, giving businesses 24 weeks instead of the original 8 to spend the money, lowering the required spend on payroll from 75% to 60%, and giving owners five years instead of two if the loan isn’t turned into a grant. Now it just needs Trump’s signature.
— Bars in Detroit are bracing for a “spring break attitude” during next week’s reopening.
— How East Oakland Collective, an organization that follows the tenets of the Black Panthers, quickly pivoted during the pandemic to continue to feed its community.
— Closures: Highlands in New York; Deep Ellum in Allston; Morels in Vegas; Cafe Josie in Austin; Trinket in PDX; four restaurants across Houston; and Aunt Charlie’s, the last gay bar in the Tenderloin in SF is in grave danger of closing for good.
— In-N-Out is suing its insurance company for not paying out $250 million to cover COVID-related business disruption.
— What al fresco dining looks like in D.C. right now.
— Restaurants in LA can now easily expand out onto the street while it’s illegal for most street vendors to work there.
— What if the ‘new normal’ after COVID is actually unbearable? (A Meghan McCarron must-read.)
Plus one fun opening
Some legitimate good news this week: Baan Siam, the newest from D.C.’s “curry queen,” Jeeraporn Poksupthong, opened this week for no-contact pickup orders.