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More Uncertainty Looms for Bars and Restaurants

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

A bistro with seating in the street and a green awning. Robert Sietsema/Eater

This post originally appeared on July 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 haven’t had a newsletter in a couple of weeks and wow how the trajectory of this pandemic has changed. The worst case scenario — premature loosening of restrictions, leading to spikes in cases and deaths — has arrived. And with it comes (necessarily!) a second round of closings for bars, and sometimes restaurants, in a growing number of states across the country.

For many in the hospitality industry, the seesaw of re-opening and re-closing (in Vegas, San Diego, Houston, Miami, and so many more) is worse than remaining closed, due to the health and safety of workers, the investment in protective equipment, product, and supplies, and getting employees off unemployment just to lay them off again. It’s not just a flip of the switch. The sudden nature and delivery method of much of the guidance made navigating this time even more challenging for owners who need to make vital decisions.

The protests and lawsuits business owners are organizing against the government are both futile and idiotic. Cases are spiking and those areas need to close. People are dying. But I understand how scary it must be, especially for the owners of bars, which will always be the last to reopen and the first ordered closed.

The majority of bars I know and love aren’t going to have a path out of this. Bars in Massachusetts won’t be allowed to open until there’s a vaccine or a therapy. Our reporting on dive bars, lesbian bars, and the Latinx/Black-owned bar renaissance coming out of Oakland paints an increasingly troubling picture.

If you’re a bar owner and have some thoughts (or maybe even an optimistic point of view?) I’d love to hear from you at Otherwise I recommend you all listen to this week’s episode of our podcast, where Olee Fowler of Eater Miami and Farley Elliott of Eater LA discuss the chaos on the ground in their respective hot zones.

On Eater

A new pool bar and tribute to Dolly in Nashville
Digital Love/Graduate Nashville

Closures: 60 year-old icon Fuji Ya in Minneapolis; Aureole, Cranberry’s, and Vaucluse in New York; Sree Krishna in London; Brave Horse Tavern and Trattoria Cuoco in Seattle; Full English in Austin; and Velvet Cantina in SF.

— How Black organizers fed the Occupy City Hall protests.

— Maya Lovelace, a chef and restaurateur in Portland, asked for and promised to post allegations of workplace misconduct in the restaurant industry on Instagram. The results were, predictably, controversial and complicated.

— Around the country, Black communities are bridging the food access gap.

— More and more restaurant employees, who have become de facto health and safety enforcers, are being assaulted by patrons who don’t want to wear masks.

— “Before you literally risk your life by returning to work, make sure your professional environment is safe from health risks and racism.” — from Lauren Allen’s essay about the racism she’s faced as a Black diner and server.

— Maybe cruise lines — and their buffets — are more prepped for this moment than you’d think.

A full meat tray of barbecue specialities including a hot link and ribs and brisket.
Heritage Barbecue
John Troxell

— Hey hey, check it out: Restaurants are still opening, pretty much every day. Some that look particularly interesting to me: Mama Delia’s, a new Spanish spot in Chicago; White Limozeen, a hotel roof bar and Dolly Parton tribute, in Nashville; Tamales Elena y Antojitos, LA’s first Afro-Mexican restaurant featuring cuisine from La Costa Chica in Guerrero; Alma del Mar, a Mexican spot made famous by Queer Eye, in Philly; El Garage, a quesabirria truck going brick and mortar in Richmond, CA; Leah & Louise, a modern juke joint, in Charlotte; and The Rustic, a massive outdoor dining spot, in Houston.

— Meanwhile, Orange County has what may be the first fully-licensed Texas-style barbecue joint in the state of California.

— Houston chef Johnny Rhodes will close his groundbreaking restaurant Indigo next summer so he and his wife can focus on their long-term project of building a grocery store and farm to serve the residents of Trinity Gardens, where he was raised.

— In D.C. chef shuffles, Kwame Onwuachi is leaving Kith & Kin and Kevin Tien is leaving Emilie’s.

— In the age of COVID-19, pre-bottling is a gift from you on your best days to you on your worst. Same goes for freezing a batch of brownies.

— Another gift in this moment: Netflix has old episodes of Supermarket Sweep.

— The Food Timeline is an incredible trove of vital information bout the origins of foods, and it needs a new custodian.

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