Food Drama

  • From the Strategist: The Best Gifts for Beer Lovers, According to Brewers and Beer Writers
    by Maxine Builder on July 6, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Photo: Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images Beer glasses, bottle openers, coolers, and more for your favorite beer drinker, from the Strategist Finding the best gift for the beer lover in your life can be tricky, especially if you’re not a beer person. And though it might be tempting to give them one of those “funny” beer gifts, like a helmet with the two straws, you can do better than that. There are plenty of clever gift ideas for beer lovers that they’ll use and appreciate, and to make it easy for you to pick a beer gift they might actually want, we consulted a group of experts that included brewers and brewmasters, certified ciceroni, and beer writers to find the best gifts for beer lovers that have more staying power than a six-pack. Gifts for beer drinkers Yeti Hopper M30 Yeti coolers, which we’ve deemed the best coolers on the market, are beloved by pretty much anyone who uses them for their virtual indestructibility and the fact that they keep food and drinks (and ice!) cold for literal hours on end. Which is why we were not surprised when Jesse Ferguson, the founder and brewmaster at Interboro Spirits and Ales, told us this Yeti cooler would make an impressive gift for a beer lover who needs to keep their brews ice cold. “This is great for the traveling beer geek,” he says. “Fill it with cans and bottles and check it on your way home from your trip visiting new breweries.” The rugged soft-side cooler has a wide-mouth opening with ultrastrong magnets to keep it closed, as well as top handles, a shoulder strap, leak-proof liner, and a shell that’s resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. It can hold up to 20 cans of beer or 28 pounds of ice. BrüMate Hopsulator BOTT’L Stainless Steel Insulated Bottle Cooler Strategist writer Dominique Pariso first turned us on to Brümate’s stainless-steel coozies when she wrote that they kept her slender White Claw ice cold, even on a hot summer day. Luckily for the beer drinker in your life, BrüMate’s Hopsulator coozie comes in a standard size that’ll keep their favorite 12-ounce bottles of IPA ice cold, too. Yeti Rambler 16 Oz. Colster Tall Can Insulator Since glass isn’t allowed on many beaches or in some state parks, your favorite beer lover is probably hauling cans all summer long. Mary Izett, co-owner of Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Queens, New York, loves the Yeti Colster — a can insulator — for summertime imbibing. “They’re lightweight, durable, and keep your beer at the appropriate temperature on the hottest of days,” Izett says. Spiegelau IPA Glass “If you want to get some fancy glasses, Spiegelau has some really nice stuff specifically designed for specific styles,” David Zuskov, the brewer and lab manager at Almanac Beer Co. in Alameda, California, explains. “The IPA glass really makes a difference. I drank the same beer out of their glass and a pint glass, and you can taste so much more flavor from theirs.” Spiegelau 4-Piece Craft Beer Tasting Kit If you’re not sure what style of beer they enjoy the most, but still want to upgrade their glassware from novelty pint glasses, give them a Spiegelau four-piece tasting set, which comes with the IPA glass, a glass for stouts, and one for American wheat beer. Proper Pour Beer Bottle Cap Holder Shadow Box Bruntmor CAPMAGS Magnetic Beer Opener & Magnetic Cap Catcher “One year for Christmas, my mom gave me one of those ‘Save Water, Drink Beer’ shadow boxes that you fill with your used bottle caps. She also gave me a wall-mounted bottle opener built from a melted Toasted Lager bottle. It was the perfect combo,” says Dan Jansen, director of supply at Anheuser-Busch’s Brewers Collective. “The challenge became filling the shadowbox by the next Christmas, and I definitely rose to it.” While these aren’t the same shadow box and bottle opener Jansen has, they’re just as compelling to get your beer-loving buddy to get busy (responsibly) filling up that box. FS Objects Hand 2 Bottle Opener Speaking of bottle openers, according to Julia Herz, the publisher of and craft-beer program director at the Brewers Association, you can’t go wrong with giving a beer lover a solid bottle opener. “A kick-ass bottle opener needs to feel sturdy and work well. It’s a catalyst for each glee-filled moment you open a beer. It needs to be special enough for it to gain more and more meaning and purpose with each use.” We think this one from FS Objects, which is handmade from solid brass, definitely has that “special enough” quality she’s talking about. Hay Bottle Opener For a still stylish but less expensive option, try this durable, zinc-alloy bottle opener from Hay (one of the Strategist’s go-to home-goods brands). iggy Camouflage-Jacquard Webbing Belt Or, for the beer drinker who prefers to wear his gear, this belt with a built-in bottle opener behind its buckle is sure to delight. It came recommended by our Resident Cool Guy Chris Black, who says the belt has that “I played a side stage at Lollapalooza in 1993” energy. Pint-Sized Brewing Kit You’ve heard of the one-gallon brewing kit, but if you’re pressed for space, Brooklyn-based beer supply shop Bitter & Esters sells a pint-size home-brewing kit. It includes a quart Mason jar, green fermentation lid, 16-ounce swing-top bottle, and everything else you need to make a literal pint of beer. “This is a clever, compact, and fun way to get a taste of home brewing before committing to a larger setup,” says Izett, plus it would also make a great gag gift for any amateur home-brewing expert you know. A di Alessi Anna G. Corkscrew The lambic beer drinker in your life, though, will need a corkscrew to get to the good stuff. (Bottles of lambic are corked, not capped, and we talk more about this unique type of Belgian beer below.) For them, consider this cheerful one from iconic Italian design company Alessi that Black also recommends. Her name is Anna G. and she was designed by Alessandro Mendini in 1994. Kaufmann Mercantile Handmade Ceramic Growler With Loop Herz says the best gifts she has ever received are “two swing-top milk jugs housed in a wooden box with a leather handle. They can be used as baby beer growlers and filled up at my local brewery.” This handmade ceramic growler is similar to the one she uses. Hydro Flask 64oz Growler We also love this vacuum-insulated growler from Hydro Flask. It would make a perfect companion to the Yeti cooler on your beer-loving friend’s next camping trip. GrowlerWerks Copper uKeg Carbonated Growler, 64 oz If you really want to wow your cold-one swigging loved one, try this snazzy stainless-steel growler that doubles as a tap and also features a pressure gauge and a carbonation cap that “automatically regulates pressure to optimally carbonate beer,” according to the product description. CraftHouse101 750mL Lambic Basket The best gift that Jim Raras Jr., the executive vice-president of Mikkeller NYC, ever received is a lambic basket. Lambic is a specific style of beer from Belgium, considered special because it’s fermented with native yeast in the bottle. (That’s also known as bottle-conditioned beer.) But the yeast means that it’s a finicky type of beer to serve, and you want pour it and store it at a tilt so that you don’t get sediment in your glass while drinking. That’s where the lambic basket comes in, and it’s a great gift for Belgian-beer nerds. “The one I received was from a wonderful friend, for my birthday; he got it from brasserie Cantillon — that was very special to me. A properly clear pour of a bottle-conditioned beer is such a delight and really showcases the beer; this helps a ton if you’re not pouring the entire bottle at once.” This handmade one is made from dyed seagrass and rattan. Kouboo Wine Bottle Basket and Decanter in Rattan-Nito, Brown This all-rattan lambic basket is also handsome, though slightly less expensive. It can also be used for wine, which is great for a split household. Beer Across America Monthly Beer Club Subscription Probably the best gift you could give someone who loves beer is, well, beer. To that end, Nikki McCutcheon, the beverage director at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge at the Moxy Times Square hotel, recommends gifting a subscription to a “beer of the month” club from Beer Across America, which, according to her, “offers a customizable monthly subscription of beer samples from all over the country your beer lover is sure to enjoy.” Each month, for however long you choose, Beer Across America delivers four varieties of award-winning beer from two independent craft breweries that have been curated by a panel of experts. If your beer enthusiast can’t hit the road discovering new brews on their own, this subscription is their best bet. Gifts for beer makers Maestro Homebrew Beer Equipment Kit with Auto Siphon “If the person is a novice home brewer, you can get them a basic setup kit,” says Zuskov, the brewer and lab manager at Almanac. He likes the home-brew starter kit from MoreBeer, an East Bay-based company, but this one from Amazon has all of the same equipment. Glass Carboy (3 Gallon) “If the person is more advanced, maybe upgrade one of their pieces of equipment,” advises Zuskov. “If they’re using a plastic bucket to ferment, maybe buy them a glass carboy.” And whether you’re buying home-brew equipment for a new or experienced brewer, consider also getting them grain, malt, and hops. “You could always buy the ingredients for the brew and then that way you could go and brew the beer with them.” Kegco 24” Wide Triple Tap Stainless Steel Kegerator For the serious beer lover or home brewer, Mulligan recommends a Kegerator — that is, a fridge for a keg. While definitely pricey, “a Kegerator is a great way to spruce up a home-bar setup for your beer collector,” she says. She likes this 24-inch model from Kegco that can accommodate a full-size keg (even commercial ones from the likes of Coors and Miller); a half or quarter-size barrel; or three narrower home-brew kegs. It also comes with three taps and caster wheels for easy mobility, and can be converted into a regular refrigerator by adding the two included shelves. “If your beer lover is also a home-brewing geek, choose hookups for a Corny (Cornelius) keg,” adds Mulligan. Andrew McNally, the founder and brewmaster at Common Bond Brewers — Montgomery, Alabama’s only production brewery — agrees that “a kegerator makes a great gift,” adding, “You get to serve draft like the pros in the comfort of your very own (wo)man cave.” Gifts for beer geeks The Oxford Companion to Beer “In terms of giving a beer-related gift, I would have to say that the Oxford Companion to Beer is a great option,” says Zach Mack, beer writer and owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. and Governors Island Beer Co. “It’s perfect for someone who already knows a little bit about beer and wants to learn more, but doesn’t want to dive into the insanely overcrowded realm of beer books. It’s a very concise and tightly written encyclopedic record for beer that’s remarkably approachable given its depth. And even if they don’t end up using it every time they crack a beer, it looks nice on a bookshelf or coffee table.” The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer With Real Food The author of the Oxford Companion, Garrett Oliver, is the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and the 2014 winner of the James Beard Award for Excellent Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional. His first book, The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer With Real Food, is also a good read for someone who knows they like drinking beer, but doesn’t know much about the history or even different styles of brewing. Tasting Beer, 2nd Edition: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink “I can’t recommend Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer enough for anyone who wants to develop and refine their palate and develop a better understanding of the sensory components of the beer they’re drinking,” says Izett. “Honestly, if you drink beer, you need this book.” The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes “It’s impossible for me to overlook how instrumental Josh Bernstein’s The Complete Beer Course was in motivating me to dig deeper into the infinite world of beer,” says Blake Tomnitz, co-founder and CEO of Five Boroughs Brewing Co. “Not to mention, it helped solidify my desire to work in the beer industry. For someone who loves beer, it hits all the right notes.” “The New World Guide to Beer” by Michael Jackson “Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion: The World’s Great Beer Styles, Gastronomy, and Traditions” by Michael Jackson These books by the late English beer critic and author Michael Jackson (a.k.a. the Beer Hunter) — who is credited for kickstarting the North American microbrewery movement in the 1970s — are deep cuts for those who know. Mulligan told us they are some of her favorite beer gifts to give. “Both books are approachable for first-timers and don’t talk down to the amateur consumer,” she says. If your recipient prefers to crack open a beer instead of a book, Mulligan adds that these are just as good for displaying on a coffee table as they are for reading. While they’re out of print, you can still buy used copies Amazon at relatively low prices.

  • Where Restaurants and Bars Are Closing Again Across the U.S.
    by Elazar Sontag on July 6, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Gary He / Eater Here’s how cities and states have re-closed as COVID-19 cases spike The reopening of restaurants across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic has been scattered, inconsistent, and entirely confusing for restaurant workers and diners alike. In some states, restaurants were allowed to reopen for dine-in service with virtually no limits. In others, dining rooms remained closed, while outdoor seating opened to the public, with social distancing measures in place. Some states offered explicit guidelines for reopening, while others left life-or-death decision making up to individual restaurant owners. But as this haphazard approach made clear, reopening would not be simple or easy; in many cases, restaurants re-closed after members of their own staff contracted the virus. Now, as COVID-19 cases spike nationwide — including some states seeing record highs in new daily cases — several states and some cities are backtracking by closing dining rooms once again, in hopes of controlling the spread of the virus. Others have announced they’re stalling plans to re-open dining rooms. If restaurant reopenings could be interpreted as a glimmer of hope that maybe — just maybe — the worst of the pandemic had passed, these reclosings are a reminder that the virus is anything but gone. In state after state, indications point to COVID-19 cases spiking after restaurants and bars reopen. On June 30, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s authority on infectious diseases, warned against going to bars. “Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news,” he said during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. In East Lansing, Michigan, 107 people who visited the same bar over the course of a week tested positive for COVID-19. This list will be updated frequently, to reflect the reclosing of restaurants and bars. It will also note when restaurants and bars revert to earlier stages of their multi-phase plans. This often means reducing capacities to earlier limits, or closing down a restaurant’s seated bar or buffet station. Idaho On June 15, nightclubs and bars in Ada County, which were previously allowed to reopen, are closing after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Florida On June 26, bars, previously allowed to reopen, are closed after a spike in COVID-19 cases. On July 8, restaurants in Miami-Dade County must close to dine-in service, after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Arizona On June 29, bars, previously allowed to reopen, are closed after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Closures will last until July 27, at the earliest. Texas On June 29, restaurants reverted to 50 percent capacity, after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Bars were also ordered closed. California On July 1, restaurants in Los Angeles and 18 other California counties reverted to a delivery and takeout model. The closing of restaurants to dine-in service will last at least three weeks. Michigan On July 1, bars, previously allowed to reopen for indoor dining, reverted to takeout and outdoor drinking, after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Bars in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula were excluded from this order, and may remain open. Pennsylvania On July 3, restaurants and bars in Allegheny County closed to dine-in service after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Dine-in service set to resume on July 10.

  • What Do We Get From Grocery Store Freakout Videos?
    by Jenny G. Zhang on July 6, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Michael Emmanuel Reighley/Shutterstock Wearing a mask to protect against COVID-19 has become a politicized issue, leading to an increase in public confrontations — all captured on witnesses’ phone cameras A woman spews profanities as she hurls items from her shopping cart to the supermarket floor, her other hand clutching an unused face mask. In a distant Trader Joe’s, another woman flings her shopping basket down and screams, “You’re fucking Democratic pigs!” at the masked employees escorting her out of the store. In a Florida Walmart, a gray-haired man repeatedly shoves an employee trying to block him from entering the building without a mask. These are the so-called Karens (and occasional Kens) of the pandemic age, whose filmed encounters with mask-wearing store employees and fellow shoppers have reliably achieved both virality and notoriety. While “public freakout” videos aren’t new — indeed, there’s a whole subreddit dedicated to this genre of voyeurism, with 2.5 million members and counting — this specific context is. If a black man did this he’d be choked to death by a cop and half the country would say *but he threw groceries”— Solemad O’nlien (@evren__7) June 28, 2020 Amid a public health crisis that shows no signs of abating anytime soon, the stars of these videos refuse to wear masks, the use of which is recommended — and, in some locales and shops, required — to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They stalk the automatic sliding doors and aisles of the supermarket, one of the few truly essential businesses that have remained open to the public out of necessity, and a site of tension as retail workers manage politicized and sometimes violent opposition to the mask-wearing policies that employees are left to enforce. They throw tantrums, invigorated by feelings of self-righteous anger and victimization. They are, generally speaking, white — a fact that cannot be considered in isolation when you think of whose outbursts are permitted without forceful retaliation, and which communities are being disproportionately threatened by COVID-19 and police brutality, twin forces of lethality that hold the United States in thrall. “What would happen if she were black?” spectators ask about the grocery-throwing woman in Dallas. I think you could hazard a guess. These videos, in which both white privilege and entitlement are laid bare and reified, can simulate some form of justice for the audience. It’s gratifying to pretend, even just for a minute, that despised figures of popular imagination — those who either do not believe in or do not care about the shared sacrifice we make by wearing masks and social distancing — are getting their due punishment via public shaming, both in the store and online. The momentary high of a communal chastisement shared with millions is inviting, comforting even. But there’s a performative element to these grocery store freakout videos. At least some seem staged, the work of anti-mask protesters who enter stores with their phones recording, prepared to make a scene. Attention is what they want, and despite our best efforts, we give it to them, unable to look away from a show. Douglas Kellner, writing about Guy Debord’s concept of the “spectacle,” associates the spectacle with passivity, a sort of estrangement from “actively producing one’s life.” Consume too many of these encounters, and thrill turns into numbness. It feels easier to watch and despise these terrible individuals than to have to spend more time thinking about who has most failed us in stopping this pandemic: the government and our leaders, driven by both incompetence and the calculation that part of the population could be sacrificed so that our business sectors and their profiteers wouldn’t lose more money. In the shadow of such a cruel demonstration of How Things Work, you feel powerless. No wonder we derive our small thrills from booing selfish strangers out of supermarkets. Catharsis is understood to be the release of emotions as a form of cleansing, but Aristotle’s theory referred specifically to tragedy, pity, and fear. Witnessing a tragic reenactment would arouse pity and fear, leading to a release of poisonous feelings. It’s “a beautiful metaphor for the peculiar tragic pleasure, the feeling of being washed or cleansed,” Joe Sachs writes for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Maybe that’s all we can hope for from this communal viewing of this kind of public theater, both illustrative and obfuscative of the nation’s wider failings. When faced with clear evidence of such tragedy, what can we do but release months’ worth of simmering disgust and horror? On the other side of the purgation lies, if nothing else, a moment of relief.

  • Eater at Home
    by Eater Staff on July 6, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    In this time of shelter-in-place and social distancing, while restaurants have switched to delivery-only or closed entirely, eating — and finding the pleasure in eating, wherever we can — has taken on a whole new urgency. Eater at Home is the source for anyone who wants to feel deeply engaged with food and dining culture, which now, more than ever, is in our homes. Of course, dining culture has never been limited to restaurant spaces and restaurant food; it’s about feeding our curiosity toward new experiences (including, for some of us, consistently cooking at home for the first time). It’s also about the books, shows, and movies that center and find meaning in what and how we eat. And it’s about the little things that provide fleeting moments of satisfaction — like making all those delivery meals feel more restaurant-special. So, stay home. Eater’s still got you covered. —Hillary Dixler Canavan, restaurant editor

  • Learn to Garden at Home and Cook a Peruvian Classic From the Experts
    by Eater Staff on July 6, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Tune into Instagram Live this week as we welcome Jason Grauer from Stone Barns and NOLA chef Jordan Ruiz Welcome to a new week of on-screen events at Eater, which means cooking demos and expert tips from leaders around the food and beverage world. Want to watch (or re-watch) any of the Instagram Lives we’ve broadcasted over the last few months as part of Eater at Home? You can browse for them on our Instagram. As for what’s coming up this week: Wednesday, July 8: Cooking “Lomeaux Saltado” with Jordan RuizPresented by TABASCO BrandCome cook with New Orleans chef Jordan Ruiz as he prepares his spin on a Peruvian classic, lomo saltado. (1:00 p.m. ET) Thursday, July 9: Farming at Home with Stone BarnsLearn how to start your own container garden — and get all your green thumb questions answered — from Stone Barns farmer and crops director Jason Grauer. (2:00 p.m. ET) Add the above Instagram Lives to your calendar, and sign up to hear the latest about all our upcoming events. Check back each Monday when we drop the week’s schedule.

  • Kwame Onwuachi Leaves Game-Changing DC Restaurant Kith/Kin
    by Gabe Hiatt on July 6, 2020 at 3:51 pm

  • McDonald’s Hits Pause on Reopening Dining Rooms Nationwide
    by Jaya Saxena on July 6, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Shutterstock Plus, Big Boy will no longer have a big boy, and more news to start your day I’m lovin’… takeout As basically every expert agrees that indoor dining is a breeding ground for COVID-19, restaurants are reconsidering opening their dining rooms as state’s struggle to reopen. Among the biggest restaurants to remain closed, McDonald’s has announced that it will not be opening any restaurant dining rooms over the next 21 days. Franchisees who’ve already opened dining rooms are asked to review state guidelines and possibly return to take-out and delivery only. “This surge shows nobody is exempt from this virus — even places that previously had very few cases,” the company said an internal letter obtained by the Wall Street Journal. “Moving forward, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed to protect the safety of our employees and customers.” According to CNBC, about 2,200 (or 15%) of McDonald’s dining rooms in the U.S. are currently open. After attempting to reopen, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and parts of California and Pennsylvania have suspended indoor dining and/or bar service in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Besides, who is ready to go back to restaurants anyway? And in other news… The Big Boy restaurant chain will no longer be represented by said big boy. Instead, the new mascot will be a girl named Dolly. [WoodTV] Residents in locked-down housing towers in Melbourne say they’re not getting enough food, and when they were, some Muslim residents were being delivered pork. [Guardian] Food banks continue to have long lines. [LATimes] The Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest was weird this year, with no audience and contestants divided by plexiglass. But Joey Chestnut still ate 75 hot dogs in 10 minutes. [NYTimes] A comic by Billy Chiu, who manages Grant Place Restaurant in San Francisco, about running a restaurant while the President blames the pandemic on Asian people. [The Nib] In honor of the release of Hamilton, Disney+ and Coca Cola are donating $1 million to World Central Kitchen. Last year, Disney’s revenue was over $69 billion. [Twitter] Once again, in-person dining is tied to the spread of COVID-19: JPMORGAN: “.. we find a positive correlation between levels of [credit-card] activity three weeks ago and the spread of COVID-19 since then.” Of all indicators, “the highest correlation .. is the level of “card-present” (essentially in-person) restaurant spending ..”— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) July 2, 2020 All AM Intel Coverage [E]

  • Uber Acquires Postmates, Merging Two of the Biggest Delivery Companies
    by Erin DeJesus on July 6, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    nyker/Shutterstock For restaurant owners and diners, the deal condenses the number of delivery app options out there Rideshare service Uber has acquired delivery competitor Postmates in a deal worth $2.65 billion. According to the NYT, Postmates will continue to operate under its own name, but will be combined with UberEats to create the country’s second-largest delivery goliath. The Postmates buy comes just weeks after Uber was rumored to be courting competitor Grubhub in a merger that would have easily created the largest delivery platform in the country. (Amid antitrust concerns, those talks fell apart, and Grubhub was acquired by European company Just Eats Takeaway in a $7.3 billion deal.) Instead, today’s UberEats-Postmates merger will create the second-largest delivery platform in terms of market share, and for restaurant owners and diners, will still condense the number of delivery app options to three major ones: Doordash, UberEats/Postmates, and Grubhub. Postmates, an early entrant in the on-demand delivery space, launched in 2011 promising couriers who could deliver anything (not just food) direct to customers’ doors: “The idea behind Postmates is what if you can use the city as a warehouse,” co-founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann told CNBC in 2015, positioning the idea of bespoke delivery as the “anti-Amazon.” Though the brand also scored early exclusive delivery accounts with Starbucks and Chipotle, it also garnered early (if now ubiquitous) criticism for listing restaurants on its app without their permission. It was also the smallest of the major players at the time of today’s merger, with 8 percent of the market share. Uber, meanwhile, launched its Eats delivery service in 2014, and enjoys 20 percent of the overall market share, according to an October 2019 report. But while its core service — transporting passengers via ride-share — has plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, its Eats business has grown as restaurants have been forced to pivot to delivery and diners stay home. In May, Uber laid off more than 6,000 employees after reporting its ride-share service dropped 80 percent year-over-year in April. Its Q1 earning report, however, reported that Eats had grown 54 percent year-over-year. The delivery space has been rife with acquisitions and mergers. Grubhub acquired then-rival Seamless in 2013, then Yelp-owned Eat24 in 2017. In August 2019, Doordash acquired Caviar. This latest merger happens at a time when delivery apps are under increased pressure — from consumers and lawmakers — over the exorbitant fees charged to restaurants (which are sometimes up to 30 percent, a fact heightened during the COVID-19 crisis), the common practice of listing restaurants on the apps without their consent, and their classification of workers as contractors instead of employees), their labor practices. Uber and Lyft face a lawsuit filed by the California Attorney General over Assembly Bill 5, which grants employment classification to gig economy workers and contractors; in December, Uber and Postmates joined forces to file suit against the state to halt AB5 enforcement.

  • The Museum of Ice Cream’s Not Only an Instagram Fantasy, It’s Also a Nightmare Workplace
    by Elazar Sontag on July 2, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Cindy Ord/Getty Images A new report from Forbes alleges an environment of abuse created by founder Maryellis Bunn, in which hourly employees weren’t allowed to wear coats outside in the winter or go to the bathroom for hours during shifts Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum of Ice Cream was the place to be for those who wanted nothing more than to jump into an enormous pit of oversized plastic sprinkles with a host of strangers, and post about it on Instagram. For nearly $40 — considerably more than the ticket price at most museums that show actual art — customers could take endless selfies in the ice cream-centric “museum.” There’s a room consumed by fake pink bananas hanging from the ceiling, and a wall of pink dial phones, if you’d like to follow Kim Kardashian’s lead. Here, everything is pink, everyone is happy, and, as it turns out, pretty much everything is fake. On their site, the MOIC describes this millennial pink fever dream as a place where “unicorns are real and every day starts with a swim in the sprinkle pool.” But according to a new Forbes report, the company’s claims could not be further from the truth. The museum is currently closed due to the pandemic — who wants to jump into a pit of sprinkles at the moment? — but as the museum plans its reopening, hourly and salaried employees alike lay out a pattern of abuse and disrespect, stemming from the company’s founder. Maryellis Bunn, who founded the Museum in 2016, required everyone at the company to take on an ice cream nickname, according to the report. “Banana Split” or “Mint Chocolate Chip” would have worked for me, but instead Bunn gave herself a more apt nickname: “Scream.” And scream, she allegedly did. In one company meeting, what Bunn called a “Scream Sesh,” she threatened that if an upcoming event did not sell out, the involved employees’ jobs would be on the line, according to Forbes. Life at corporate headquarters was so unpleasant, employees say one room became unofficially known as the “crying room.” Employees at the company’s headquarters told Forbes that Bunn would rip up their work, call them “pathetic,” and in one striking case, she reportedly told a designer to rework a staff uniform featuring shorts because “fat people’s legs are disgusting.” If employees at the company’s headquarters had it bad, hourly employees had it worse. As a cast of celebrities and influencers traipsed through the New York and San Francisco locations snapping photos and sharing with millions of followers, staff at both MOIC locations were working in hellish conditions. On June 14, Forbes received a letter from “Many Melted Scoops,” a group consisting of one-fifth of the flagship museum’s hourly employees, outlining the toxic work environment Bunn had created. Included in the Forbes report is the account of one employee with a chronic stomach condition, who had to tell her manager she was “about to crap myself on the floor” before she was relieved of her ice cream-scooping duties to use the restroom. After announcing by walkie-talkie that she needed to change her tampon, another employee was forced to wait four hours before she could do so. By the time she made it to the bathroom, she told Forbes that she’d bled through her pants, and later got an infection. In addition to being denied bathroom breaks, employees were often expected to “smile, sing, and dance ice cream jingles for eight hours straight,” the report says. Employees were reprimanded using a point system that docked them for everything from an untied shoelace to missing work for being sick — even if they could provide a doctor’s note. “If we were sick, we were still expected to come even if we were handling food. Or else we get strikes, and then three strikes, you’re suspended,” Chris Statzer, a former employee, told Forbes. These claims are deeply disturbing in the best of times, but even more so as the company plans its reopening during a global pandemic that has taken a serious toll on service industry workers. Not to mention, the signature sprinkle ball pit seems a perfect environment for the deadly coronavirus to spread. In response to Forbes’ investigation, the company denied allegations of wrongdoing, and made the following statement: “We stand for inclusivity, connection and imagination at Figure8 and Museum of Ice Cream… Although we may disagree with many of the statements made by the anonymous sources for this article, we are committed to looking for ways to grow and improve in how we live out our values in the day-to-day.” The company’s success, despite its many deep-rooted issues, puts on display the relative ease with which white business owners and entrepreneurs raise money and gain recognition for questionable enterprises, while business owners of color often struggle to attract investors and raise funds. Though according to Forbes the museum had a total revenue of $10 million over its four years of existing, two investment firms infused the business with $40 million last year. As the Museum plans its reopening, it’s hard to imagine joyously walking through the space taking selfies and eating ice cream, knowing what really goes into crafting the experience. In its signature bright-pink, the company’s website describes ice cream as “a universal symbol of happiness, a vehicle for imaginative wonder, and a powerful force to bring people together.” It seems that so far, the magic of ice cream hasn’t done a whole lot for the company’s work culture. It’s going to take a lot more than rainbow sprinkles to fix the Museum of Ice Cream.

  • How Seattle Restaurants Are Finding Alternative Solutions to Calling the Cops
    by Gabe Guarente on July 2, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    An effort to “defund the police” could start by using other ways to de-escalate conflict when there’s a disturbance

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