I chat with Saru Jayaraman, one of the country’s leading labor rights activists for the hospitality industry, about how to improve the lives of those who work hard to serve us delicious, sometimes expensive food, often for not a whole lot of money. It’s all part of our “World Changers” series!
Tejal Rao is a GOOD DEAL and a STRONG BUY. The former Village Voice critic is re-joining the fray over Bloomberg, where I reviewed restaurants full-time from February 2006 until March 2014, when I left to join Eater! Tejal will be one of the few high-profile female critics surveying the American dining scene, and I can’t wait to see what restaurants she’ll review and re-review. — Ryan Sutton, Editor at The Price Hike & The Bad Deal and Eater’s Chief Food Critic.
“Could the purchase of a superyacht be more than an act of self-indulgence? Could it provide something as significant, Mr. Jones wondered, as the financial aid he has given to children, homeless people, drug addicts and groups that promote education and entrepreneurship?”—The Correct Answer is No. (Source: New York Times).
"A daily Resort Fee of $25.00 plus tax is posted to each guest room to offer amenities and services for a nominal all-inclusive fee. Please note the inclusions you receive for this charge: High-speed internet service in your room & public areas, unlimited local and toll free calls, daily newspaper…
Resort fees, like hotel internet usage fees, are designed to nickel and dime guests for things they will almost certainly use, and whose cost should often be factored into the base price. Instead, we get an artificially low price at the time of booking. That said, charging guests for water bottles they might not drink and printing services they might not use is straight up RIDICULOUS and should be itemized out.
Even worse: I once payed a $5-$10 hotel administrative fee because I had a UPS package delivered to my hotel in Vegas (not a delivery fee, a “recipient” fee). Yep, we’re calling these practices a BAD DEAL.
“It is sad that the more “successful” a neighborhood becomes, the more it gradually takes on a recognizable, common look, as the same banks, drugstore chains and national brands move in. Be honest: Would you rather have one more bank branch in your neighborhood, or another independent restaurant?”—Danny Meyer, who will relocate his pioneering Union Square Cafe at the end of 2015 because of a brontosaurus-sized rent increase, speaks some TRUTH about how the NYC real estate market isn’t looking out for NYC or its wonderful communities (Source: New York Times).
“Yes, It would make even more sense to shut down Cocina and reopen it as Taqueria. We have the data and we know it would make us more successful. At least financially it would. In terms of accomplishing what I set out to do with that particular restaurant it would be a failure.”—So says Alex Stupak. Big props to him for taking on some risk in this very conservative year for new restaurants. Then again, Empellon Cocina is not a new restaurant (Source: Eater).
Meet your newest class of booking fees, which might range from $10 for a seat at Charlie Bird to $50 for a prime time seat at Minetta Tavern. Are such policies elitist, or will the clearinghouse effect help make certain last minute reservations more accessible? Read the Eater interview with co-founders Ben Leventhal and Gary Vaynerchuk and decide for yourself!
“As Jaeckle’s former bosses at AltaMarea keep pumping out more of the same at their Italian Restaurant Replicating Factory, All’onda wants to bring us something different. That’s no slight on the people of AltaMarea; they’ve set a high bar for hospitality and I’m jealous the citizens of Tajikistan will get a Morini sooner than we’ll have a Second Avenue Subway. But what our own city’s culinary scene needs right now is an increased tolerance for creativity and risk, and that’s why All’onda is so vital.”—That’s from my two star Eater review of All’onda, which builds on some of the themes I wrote about our “exceedingly boring” year for new restaurants in New York! Check it out! (Source: Eater).
"Even the tarte tartin, with all its complex caramelization, makes the throat well up from sugar shock just like a Cinnabon. It all makes me wonder whether Flay is sometimes catering to an Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s crowd, where guests with a high tolerance for sweetness expect bland meats to get their kick from the likes of Jack Daniel’s glazes and such." — That’s Bad Deal Editor Ryan Sutton (i.e. me!!!) reviewing Gato for Eater!!!
“For a regular person, a special dinner is the equivalent of these multi-billionaires spending $10 million on a work of art.”—Jeff Rabin, a principal at Artvest Partners, talks with Katya Kazakina about this spring’s $2.2 billion in art sales (Source: Bloomberg News).
“The business practices of Holey Donuts! are interesting in themselves. No cash is accepted, so you have to use your credit card. When you sign the iPad screen…you are warned that your receipt will arrive by email, as soon as you give them your email.”—Here’s Robert Sietsema on a doughnut shop that apparently won’t let you pay with cash (Source: Eater).
“Given the rate at which Michael White’s Altamarea Group spits out restaurants these days, this column has adopted a new policy. The amount of time spent critiquing each Altamarea place will be proportional to the time Altamarea spent coming up with the idea. This review of Ristorante Morini, open since December, will be brief.”— Pete Wells, in his two-star review of Morini for The New York Times.
“100% price transparency, while great on restaurant websites, doesn’t necessarily make for more enjoyable meals. Eating out would be pretty miserable if the price of your hay-smoked squid steak were etched onto the reclaimed driftwood it was served on, if waiters gave lectures on Champagne markups while pouring $75 glasses of bubbly, and if iPads were affixed to each table displaying a course-by-course feed of how much we’ll owe American Express in 30 days.”—That’s from my Eater review of Ma Peche, which shows us how dinner can sometimes be more pleasant when we’re not always 100% clear about prices. The downside of course is that dinner becomes more expensive (Source: Eater).
“Artisanal everything has become somewhat of a Brooklyn stereotype. I no longer ask if the Kool-Aid is locally-powdered and house-diluted when dining out, because I know it is and that the waitstaff is drinking gallons of it.”—That’s from my THREE STAR writeup of Roberta’s, my first review for Eater!
Alinea & Brooklyn Fare are the only two three-Michelin starred restaurants in America that make you pay for the majority of your meal before you eat your meal. But it looks like we’ll get another entry to that category In Europe, at Madrid’s DiverXO, which is moving to the “Hotel NH Eurobuilding” (what a name!) in July. Chef David Muñoz says he’s adopting a ticketing system as NO SHOWS are a problem. Check out the details right over here.
“Unlike past Gelinaz! events which have gotten flack for their lack of female chefs and abundance of topless female servers, this event featured several female chefs in the kitchen including Gabrielle Hamilton, Rosio Sanchez, Christina Tosi, and Ana Ros.”—Props to Eater’s Hillary Dixler for scoping out the female chef scene over at last night’s Gelinaz! event at WD-50. For those who aren’t in the know, Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef at Prune, Rosio Sanchez is the pastry chef at Noma, Christina Tosi is the co-founder of Momofuku Milk Bar, and Ana Ros is the chef at Kobarid in Solvenia. Rock on. (Source: Eater).