Crowd-sourced resources, essential businesses, and taking action
Plus: what's your quarantine project?
Friday was Saarim’s birthday and he wanted to pick up some of his favorite Bengali foods for lunch: fuchka, jhal muri, and chotpoti. We drove over to Kensington, a neighborhood in central Brooklyn that’s home to a stretch of Bangladeshi restaurants and shops on Church Avenue. While we were there we grabbed some pantry items at a local grocer: mustard oil, dried desi chickpeas, and biryani mix. In accordance with the latest restrictions, the dine-in section of Kabir’s Bakery was closed off. As we watched the kind lady behind the counter prepare our lunch, she told us that it was the last day Kabir’s and most of the other businesses on the block would be open. It’s the same somber story we keep hearing, but I was glad we were able to support them on their final day. The jhal muri (a salad made of puffed rice, crispy snacks, and an assortment of vegetables and spices) included black chickpeas, fresh tomato, and achar. Saarim said it was the best jhal muri he’s had in America.
The below pie chart from ROAR is striking.
Read this op-ed from the NYTimes Editorial Board on How to Avoid Complete Economic Destruction:
The purpose of saving businesses is both to preserve the productive capacity of the economy and the welfare of workers. If all the nation’s restaurants were to disappear, new restaurants eventually would emerge in many of the same spaces. But there is no reason to incur the incalculable cost of destroying the old businesses and creating new ones. Far better to maintain, as much as possible, the fabric of the economy as it existed before the crisis.
In her newsletter yesterday morning, Eater EIC Amanda Kludt focuses on the “stories of generosity and ingenuity” from the devasting last week. My personal favorite is how artisanal distilleries are making their own hand sanitizer due to the shortage and distributing it charitably. In New York City, that includes Greenhook Ginsmiths, St. Agrestis, New York Distilling Company, and Kings County Distillery.
LATimes restaurant critic Bill Addison beautifully captures the tension, anxiety, and sadness so many of us are currently faced with in wanting to support restaurants while also trying to stay safe—and not knowing what comes next.
Friday’s Grub Street Diet was a sobering one from chef Douglas Kim of Jeju Noodle Bar. I’m looking forward to reading my favorite column as it starts to chronicle diets in isolation.
Reader Philip Thomas was inspired to build Cellars.NYC, a crowd-sourced map of all of the restaurant wine sales taking place around the city. Use it to find a killer cellar to raid and add any spots that are missing! He’s also working on expanding it to other cities including Los Angeles & Copenhagen. I’m excited to watch this grow.
Another cool thing happening in the wine world: winemakers conducting virtual tastings. (h/t John for sharing)
Support [CITY] Online
Danny Owens, a creative producer at Squarespace, created a community-aggregated website for supporting small businesses in your city online. Bonus points for the sleek social shareables, making it easy for us to spread the love. New Yorkers can utilize the resource and make additions (add your local spots!) here. It’s also being set up for the below cities—if yours isn’t one of them, you can raise your hand to start the chapter. (My friend Meredith is currently setting up ATL :))
Restaurant & Grocery Delivery
As Peter Shelsky (of Shelsky’s - where you can call ahead for grab & go bagels and appetizing items) puts it, “the delivery folks who bring us food amid this crisis are on the front lines. Be kind. Compensate them. Tip the living fuck out of them. But do so safely.”
Here’s an insightful thread from a part-time delivery worker. Click through for the full list of best practices during this time.
Out west in Portland, Jordan Hughes is offering pro-bono photoshoots for restaurants and bars to help market their delivery and take-out options.
Farmers Markets & Specialty Shops
…are considered essential businesses. If you need groceries and are well enough to go out to get them, consider supporting your local farmers and specialty shops. A friend told me there were minimal lines at both Bangkok Center Grocery and Raffetto’s, and now he’s got primo ingredients for cooking Thai and Italian meals. It’s a win-win to think small when you’re shopping; support independent business and end up with top-quality goods.
New organizations and funds keep piling up, but I’ll continue to highlight meaningful additions. Sean, an SMC reader, put this doc together of Trade/Hospitality Support Organizations, which covers both national and local efforts. It’s open for anyone to add to.
The James Beard Foundation Relief Fund
From their website: To help bring swift economic relief to these essential businesses, the Foundation is launching a fund that will be gathering support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need.
Rethink Food NYC
Rethink Food is recovering excess food to provide no or low-cost meals to families in need, and hiring temporary team members to support their efforts.
One Fair Wage
This non-profit, led by advocates for restaurant workers, has set up an emergency coronavirus fund for tipped and service workers.
New York Hospitality Coalition
Greg Baxtrom and Max Katzenberg of Olmsted and Maison Yaki founded the NY Hospitality Coalition, a grassroots organization that lobbies for government action on behalf of the 250,000 restaurant workers and businesses. Read an interview with the duo on Zagat Stories, and follow the org on Instagram & Twitter.
Hot Bread Kitchen
Some of you know that I’m on the Junior Board of Hot Bread Kitchen, an incredible nonprofit based in NYC that creates economic opportunity through careers in food. They run a workforce training program that places low-income, immigrant women into managerial-track culinary jobs across the city and also operate an incubator for small food businesses. Here’s what Hot Bread Kitchen is asking & doing during this difficult time:
Offering their new 11,000 sq-ft Brooklyn HQ to relief organizations looking for kitchen space. Email Erin at email@example.com.
Call me a cliché, but I’m taking this opportunity to start baking sourdough. I’m kicking the project off with a starter from Upside Pizza, courtesy of my friend and the operator, Noam. What’s everyone else taking up during quarantine? I’d love to hear from you. 👊