Covid-19, and how to support the restaurant industry?

I just read that article, @butteredwaffles, and then Bill Addison’s piece (which I was going to pull quotes from, but realized I’d be quoting the whole darn thing): I respect those who are choosing not to open for in-person dining - and share Addison’s qualms about whether to dine-in if a restaurant offers that option.

Here’s Addison’s article:

(I’ll cross-post this to the Covid-19, and how to support the restaurant industry? thread, too.)

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“But here’s the story from inside the restaurant: We miss you, too. It isn’t about the money, and it isn’t really about the food. From our friends who raise and deliver the food we cook to the friends we serve it to, our industry is really about people.”

This piece resonates - so many small, local places where we went as much for the community as for the food.

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It occurred to me this weekend that in addition to social distancing and other public health issues affecting business, restaurants are going to lose some customers simply because some people have gotten in the habit of cooking and realized how much money they’re saving.


For those who have learned more about home cooking over the past two months, it’s a great “side effect” that they’ve also most likely saved money. For others, like me, dining out has nothing to do whatsoever with saving money. Sure, home cooking costs less, and my DH and I home cook once a week with some great recipes of our making, but not to save money. I know what it is that I’m paying a premium for when I dine in a restaurant: I love it and I’m happy to pay for it. Plus tip.

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I’m talking about people who went to restaurants or got takeout because they didn’t know how to cook or weren’t good enough at it to get a meal on the table in a reasonable amount of time.

Of course those of us who like to go to good restaurants aren’t going to quit so long as we can afford it, whether we know how to cook or not.

Delivery apps vs restaurants (tl:dr - order direct from restaurant and pick it up yourself!)

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" Birdie G’s in Santa Monica wasn’t set up for takeout in mid-March when its owner, Jeremy Fox, began serving his comfort food in to-go cartons. “We were just drowning,” the chef says. “I didn’t train for this in culinary school.”

One customer acted as if it were business as usual when he ordered matzo ball soup and publicly shamed Birdie G’s for not giving him enough broth — on Yelp, with a one-star review and a photograph to prove his point.

“I completely agreed it was not enough” broth, Fox says. What was the right amount for his restaurant bowls looked skimpy in takeout containers. In normal times, he says, “a plate coming back to the kitchen was like being stabbed.” Staff would be “ashamed, and disappointed that we disappointed you.” And now? “We’re just trying to do our best while our lives are on the line, and we’re losing money."

WaPo Restaurant Critic Tom Sietsema: “For as long as I’ve been writing about the industry, I’ve thought of myself as an advocate for diners. Consumers’ time, money and attention have long been foremost when I tap out a rave, a rant or something in between. Since the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve had a change of heart. Rest assured, I’m not going soft, or abandoning my constituency. I’m just not writing about places that aren’t good (or better), and I’m offering a highlight reel of dishes that travel best from Point A to Point B. Star ratings have no place in these surreal times, and I have no idea when I’ll use them again. The middle of an earthquake is no time to issue a report card.”

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I went out for my first dine-in just last week. It was almost surreal, but real at the same time. It was a favorite Vietnamese pho house.

During the restaurant shutdown, I got used to eating a lot of quick food, prepared dishes from Sprouts in Bay Park, and – hot dogs. I’m still doing that. I think I’ll upgrade to brats soon.

Now it’s hard to break that habit. Instant food, at home.

Except on weekends, when my DH & I always cook up something delicious. Maybe not gourmet, but delicious.

Frankly, I’m wary of taking the trolley (here in SD) right now, which for us cuts out going to Little Italy or downtown, pretty much.

So I guess I haven’t been as supportive, patronage-wise, as I thought I would be when the freeze thawed. I’ve curiously become conditioned to dealing with things differently, like so many others.

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Note that SF already allows only outside dining.

Amazing. This will make dining an out-of-body experience in SF.

From Australia:

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Random discussion of Covid-19 not specifically related to restaurants or food

Creativity blossoms in stressful times.

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Chez Panisse is suing its insurance company for denying a claim on their business interruption policy.

So now that indoor dining has once again been banned in CA,. what can be done (other than takeout/delivery & al fresco) to support the restaurant industry?

Very depressing.

Most places can’t logistically do al fresco even if they wanted and could afford to.

Having said that, more recently (yes, 9 days is “more recently” now), we’ve seen quite a few enticing outdoor restaurants in our neighborhood walks around town. Most that are open have clearly taken pains to, and actually do, look perfectly “normal”, if differently so – which is much appreciated.

Two that I’ll recommend are Costera on Harbor Island and The Prado at Balboa Park.

But winter will come, with cold, rain, and wind. What’s the plan then?

That’s what I was thinking about . Its 18 degrees out . Nothing better than sitting in a warm room being served hot drinks with a nice bowl of soup or stew next to the fire. Picture yourself outside with the ice cold wind blowing through the dining area under a canopy . Not .

Exactly. This works for some restaurants right now, but it isn’t sustainable, long-term; four-seasons.

Pretty basic, commonsense - and yet (some) people can’t seem to grasp it.