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Mon May 11, 2020, 08:42 PM

Can the Restaurant Industry Be Saved?


(Rolling Stone) There’s a refrigerator in the kitchen of Eleven Madison Park designed specifically for ducks. They hang in rows, hooks through their heads, ready to be rubbed down with honey and lavender, and plated like pieces of modernist art. The dish is a specialty of chef Daniel Humm, who took over the Manhattan brasserie in 2006 and turned it into one of the world’s most renowned fine-dining establishments. It’s the type of place where meals last three hours and reservations must be bought, like concert tickets.

"A lot of photographers want this shot,” Humm says, standing next to the duck refrigerator one afternoon in early April. He’s speaking about a previous life, one that ended only weeks earlier, when Eleven Madison Park and every other restaurant and bar in New York suspended dine-in service indefinitely, and the glass-paneled case in front of him was still stocked with succulent fowl. Now, it’s filled with towers of cardboard to-go boxes, the kind you might fill up at one of midtown’s countless pay-by-the-pound hot bars. The meals inside of them — today it’s pasta Bolognese, roasted broccoli, and house focaccia — cost around $5 to produce, including labor. A 12-person skeleton crew, drawn mostly from the 300 employees Humm was forced to furlough, hopes to assemble up to 3,000 of them before the day ends. The effort is a collaboration with the nonprofit Rethink Food, which is delivering the meals to hospital workers and others in need as the city combats the coronavirus. When the partnership began on April 1st, Eleven Madison Park almost certainly became the most expensive commissary kitchen in the history of food service.

It is one of the more surreal examples of how the pandemic has thoroughly upended New York’s storied culinary scene, where some 26,000 restaurants and their 350,000 workers are scrambling to pay rent, feed their families, and figure out whether there will be a job for them to come back to — and to what extent the industry will resemble the one the virus swept away, like a natural disaster, in March. Even Humm, who ran one of the most successful restaurants in the world, has acknowledged that there may not be a place for Eleven Madison Park in whatever culinary scene emerges from the pandemic. This doesn’t mean he’s any less determined to play a role in shaping the future of food service. “The world has changed,” Humm says in a soft Swiss accent. “If anyone is out there and hasn’t seen that yet, I hate to break it to them, but it’s changed. This is also exciting. There was a model that we were kind of stuck in. Now we have the blankest canvas you can imagine.” ..........(more)

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/can-the-restaurant-industry-be-saved-995037/




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Reply Can the Restaurant Industry Be Saved? (Original post)
marmar May 2020 OP
NCjack May 2020 #1
musette_sf May 2020 #2
PoindexterOglethorpe May 2020 #3
3Hotdogs May 2020 #4
dalton99a May 2020 #5

Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 08:47 PM

1. The super rich will cherry pick them, buy them for a song, and raise prices. nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 09:07 PM

2. "Eleven Madison Park"

was, once upon a time, the Metropolitan Life North Building. I had my first office job there some 50 or so years ago.

The employee dining rooms were on the second and third basement levels. The dining rooms and elevator lobbies had magnificent murals painted by Edward Trumbull, D. Putnam Brinley, Nicholas L. Pavloff, N. C. Wyeth, and Griffith Bailey Coale. The purpose of the murals was to "bring to the employees a feeling of cessation from their work through the contemplation of artistic and amusing masterpieces."

I loved working in that building, and I still have dreams about it. I'm glad that the latter-day restaurant on the site is currently providing meals for healthcare workers. But I am sorry that a building that was originally created not only for commerce, but to uplift workers as well, is now, for the most part, inaccessible to everyday people.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 10:13 PM

3. Why do I find it hard to believe that in the future there will be no restaurants?

Eventually, this will pass.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 10:46 PM

4. I believe there will be significant changes in the restaurants that re-open.

Those that operate 50% capacity will have to go to a reservation system. That is if the place was running at more than 50% capacity before C-19. Would you go to a restaurant, find it was crowded and choose to wait outside for a table?

Would you go to a restaurant at all, given the risk that will come from inevitable contact with staff and other patrons? Will your wait staff be given time off with pay if they are sick? Or will they cough on your bacon and eggs on the way out the kitchen?

If the place must run on 50% capacity, how much will the prices have to be raised in order to "cover the nut."

How many will be able to open in the first place, given that they haven't paid rent or mortgage or utilities in the past months?

---add your own.

Now some of these problems are peculiar to restaurants. Other small businesses may be able to open and operate more easily.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 11:18 PM

5. Will history repeat itself?

https://restaurant-ingthroughhistory.com/2008/10/14/taste-of-a-decade-1920s-restaurants/

The 1920s is an important decade because it marked the birth of the modern restaurant industry. The advent of national prohibition stripped away liquor profits, shifting emphasis to low-price, high-volume food service. More people ate out than ever before. Restaurant owners formed professional associations to raise industry standards, counter organized labor, and lobby for their interests. Famous pre-war restaurants closed, while cafeterias, luncheonettes, and tea rooms thrived. Female servers began to replace men. Restaurant chains incorporated and were listed on the stock exchange. While critics bemoaned the demise of fine dining, the newborn industry and its patrons celebrated simple, home-style, “American” fare.

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