June 2020

June 23, 2020
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Don’t miss listening to chef and entrepreneur Jay Foster in this week’s On the Fly podcast. Photo: Shea Evans.

Hello, everyone. I’m back in your inbox with some quick updates and something important, too. The past three weeks, I hit pause on recording the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast to honor and show respect to the Black Lives Matter movement, to pay close attention to and listen and learn from the many Black voices rising up. One of our city’s longtime culinary figureheads reached out to connect, and I’m grateful to present this week’s episode with Jay Foster, a well-known San Francisco chef and restaurateur who has been feeding us with heart and intention in his authentically cool and soulful establishments for the past 18 years. From his early days at Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack and Blue Jay Cafe, to 13 years running the beloved and greatly missed Farmerbrown, Jay has been a champion for the diverse and vibrant San Francisco we are, or should I say were once known for being.

Jay has fought hard for the disappearing Black San Francisco, and now he’s part of its list of casualties: he’s one of our few Black chefs, and with the closure of Farmerbrown and his most-recent project in the Fillmore last fall, Isla Vida, we’ve lost one of our city’s few Black restaurateurs. Jay has been trying to take a break from the grind of disadvantaged ownership and work for others for a change, utilizing his years of experience and knowledge and well-honed skills. In a city where upper-level restaurant managers and executives are a valuable asset, in our interview, you’ll hear his discouraging experience that further revealed a racist system designed to undervalue him.

What is a San Francisco without Black executives, and Black-owned restaurants, and diverse places for the community to gather? What happens when our keepers of the flame, of our city’s African American heritage and traditions and cuisine and vibrant history, are continually being blown out? As you listen to this interview with Jay Foster, you’ll hear his firsthand account of what happens when we don’t do enough to elevate instead of erase BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) culture and presence.

I reference a couple articles in the episode, and wanted to make it easy for you to find them: Bloomberg’s recent piece, “Black Business Owners’ Ranks Collapse by 41% in U.S. Lockdowns”, and Jay’s piece for Bon Appétit last year: “Running Restaurants in San Francisco Made Me Rethink Everything I Thought I Knew About Success.”

Thank you for listening, sharing, and amplifying this episode and his story in any way you can—it’s important for people to listen to Jay’s story, be moved by it, and feel impelled to be part of the necessary changes and movement happening. Special thanks to producer Lola Yen for all her continued help, and Kenya Lewis for always looking out.

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of the very first Pride march, and while there will be some online performances and presentations in honor of the Pride 50 celebration, as well as the Trans March and Dyke March, there are also some live and in-person protests and marches to honor Pride’s history as a riot, and to fight for an inclusive future with equal rights for all. Check @protestsbayarea on Instagram for announcements around the Bay—there are two protests I know of in SF on Pride Sunday: there’s the People’s March & Rally-Unite to Fight! from Juanita MORE! and Alex U. Inn, and Pride Is a Riot at Dolores Park. Both are in solidarity with BIPOC trans and queer communities, family, friends, lovers, allies, pioneers, elders, and neighbors. Wear your mask, maintain distance, get loud. There is also a Marsha P. Johnson Solidarity Rally on Sunday, organized by Black trans folks to celebrate the unveiling of the transgender history mural.

Come Monday, I know many of you will be ready for a drink (and a haircut, and a pedicure)—Mayor London Breed announced that SF bars are allowed to offer outdoor drinking starting Monday June 29th. Nope, they don’t have to serve food to be open. Woohoo! Just like restaurants, bars can apply for outdoor seating through the Shared Spaces program to take over some parking spaces and available sidewalk space. Of course, there are additional hoops to jump through with the ABC, and this timing came up quickly, so expect a gradual rollout of our new outdoor drinking life. Of course, I will continue to keep you posted in my @tablehopper Instagram Stories. We’ll have to see where things land for indoor dining (original target is July 13th) and August for indoor bars (without food).

Oakland has joined the alfresco party with their new outdoor dining, and they’re also offering a Flex Streets Initiative to use sidewalks, parking spaces, and more.

One last thing: can you please sign this petition to tell Congress to pass the Restaurants Act of 2020, which would establish the $120B Restaurant Revitalization Fund? It will provide crucial funding to help get restaurants the support they need to reopen and survive.

Thank you, everyone. Happy Pride!
Marcia Gagliardi

June 17, 2020
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The amazing, Big Night-inspired timpano from Prospect I enjoyed immensely a couple weeks ago. What a dream—something special I’d happily stay at home for. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, friends. Thanks to all of you who wrote back after last week’s newsletter, I appreciate you. It’s such an emotional time, I’m thinking of all of you. I’m currently doing some exploration with folks to speak with for the next On the Fly podcast episode—in the meantime, you can catch up on past episodes here.

This Friday is Juneteenth—I’d love to see my Apple calendar automatically populate with it as a national holiday next year. Visit HellaJuneteenth for ways you help make that happen. Here’s to all the companies who are recognizing Juneteenth as a company holiday for their employees (including Sava, my delivery partner for mymilligram).

This coming Sunday is Father’s Day—do you have your meal and treats lined up? I’ve seen some awesome family meal, BBQ, and kit options from A16 (look under “specials”), State Bird, Prospect, and Perbacco (once you update the pickup date at the top to Friday 6/19 or Saturday 6/20, the Father’s Day menu will appear), Liholiho Yacht Club is back (!) with spamburguesa kits and mochi and more in their new clubhouse takeout offering, or Hilda and Jesse, and check out this gift box from Yes Pudding, Peaches Patties, and Gourmonade! You can also pick up some wine or spirits for Pop—support your favorite restaurant, bar, or liquor store. Or hop on over to mymilligram and get him some low-dose chocolates or a topical for his sore back (you’ll find some ideas in this piece).

I know this past weekend was a flurry of activity over all the outdoor dining coming back to SF on Friday (I’ve been posting places daily on Instagram (@tablehopper) and in my Alfresco SF Highlights), but sadly our San Francisco ABC wasn’t able to grant the temporary catering permit required to allow for serving alcoholic beverages outside. (I know, it never ends.) Fortunately, the City of SF filed for a Variance with the State of California last night in the Board of Supervisors meeting (as required to be able to move further into the reopening process), it passed, and the temporary catering permits should be released very soon. Cheers to that.

Another thing that happened on Friday is a number of SF restaurants who use Grubhub for delivery received a rate increase email, some larger than the 15 percent commission fee cap Mayor Breed set during the emergency order, which is in defiance of the order. Read more in my piece about Grubhub’s shady ways, whether you’re a restaurant or consumer, and I hope you never, ever use them again.

On Monday, I attended a test luncheon at the new The Vault Garden (which was great). It was my first time out in a restaurant 90 days, and, to be expected, I had some thoughts. Take a look.

And take good care.
Marcia Gagliardi

June 11, 2020
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The Mission High/San Francisco Solidarity Protest for George Floyd. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, friends. I’m sending you much love and support right now. The past two weeks have been so intense—it has been a time to listen, and learn, and witness, and grieve, and feel tremendous compassion. And change. There are many important voices and perspectives and stories we need to listen to and make space for right now, which is why I haven’t recorded an episode of the On the Fly podcast since the brutal murder of George Floyd. It hasn’t felt right.

It’s also why I haven’t posted a personal statement, and have chosen to amplify Black voices and show support for the Black Lives Matter movement on my social media instead. I prefer to quiet down so I/we can better hear the Black voices I/we need to listen to. People are processing a lot of trauma and pain, and also lighting the way for change. I want to respectfully hold space for what I’m seeing and hearing, instead of adding noise.

However, many of you have been following me for years, and perhaps there are some of you who would be interested in what I’m thinking, observing, and learning right now. I wrote a piece a week ago, but I didn’t want to take up bandwidth, and decided not to post it. But for those of you who care to click over, I have now written another piece with some thoughts, observations, and resources. I’m not including it here in my newsletter—except for a few paragraphs below—because it should be your choice if you want to read it and take up time with it, or not.

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices, keep coming to the front! We’re already seeing a dismantling of white-centric media brands, with Monday’s resignation of Bon Appétit’s editor in chief, Adam Rapaport, over a racist brown-face Halloween costume he wore 16 years ago, a precursor supporting the allegations of racism in BA’s workplace (including BIPOC contributors not being paid for their Test Kitchen videos, while white contributors were compensated), and a lack of inclusiveness and diversity in Bon Appétit’s content, contributors, and staffing. At Refinery29, the top editor and co-founder Christene Barberich has stepped down after accusations of racial discrimination in the workplace. There is definitely more to come. Fortunately, Osayi Endolyn has conveniently pre-written a searing food media resignation letter for anyone to use.

Even with all the well-meaning lists we’re seeing and posts about Black restaurants and businesses and artists and fashion designers and filmmakers and musicians to support, we need to pay attention to how we engage. Will our support be short-term or long-term, voyeuristic or authentic (and actionable)? This thought-provoking piece from Ruth Gebreyesus takes a closer look.

By all means, we must support Black business—and especially in this devastating pandemic, support is welcome and overdue. But we can’t just pick up some dinner for the first time from a Black-owned spot we recently learned about and post it on Instagram and mentally check the “I’m an ally!” box. We have to be more than performative (which includes taking selfies at a protest or posting a pic of your donation to the NAACP). With anything I am writing or posting these past two weeks, I keep checking in and asking myself: “Who does this benefit? Myself? Is this virtue signaling? Is this supportive, or performative? Is this educational, helpful, truly in solidarity?” (Learn more in this piece from Ijeoma Oluo.)

While I have always considered myself very committed to covering all kinds of diverse businesses and chefs and events in tablehopper, with a particular focus on women and small businesses, I recognize and fully acknowledge that I need to make a concerted effort to specifically elevate more Black businesses and makers and stories in this column and the other outlets I work with. I have fallen short in my coverage. I also need to expand my knowledge and awareness of our national Black food scene, including Black content creators and voices, from food writers to podcasters. I commit to engaging in more food justice work and activism, and to recommit to more volunteering.

And then there’s the inherent racism (and sexism! and anti-LGBTQIA/homophobia!) in our restaurant/F&B industry that desperately needs to be acknowledged and addressed and dismantled and reformed, from structural and staffing issues (do you hire and promote Black employees into management positions?), to sourcing (do you work with any Black farms or wineries or purveyors?), to how Black customers are treated. This piece from chef-writer Amethyst Ganaway is one to read now, as well as this one on our broken restaurant system, also from Ruth Gebreyesus. We have a huge opportunity to make crucial changes, right now, and for our future. [cont.]

Thank you for being here. I do have a few quick bites of restaurant news for you today, but otherwise, I want to continue to maintain a respectful, low volume at this time. I’ll be posting some restaurant updates on Instagram (@tablehopper) since I still want to show support for our struggling F&B industry—and please support Bakers Against Racism June 15th-20th—but that’s about it for now. Thanks for understanding, and let’s keep doing the work—every day.

Respectfully,
~Marcia

June 10, 2020
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Protestors at the Mission High/San Francisco Solidarity Protest for George Floyd. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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This pandemic has already laid bare so much about our humanity and the things we hold dear: our family and friends, our health, our safety, our livelihood, our freedom. And these are the very things that provide stark, heartbreaking proof of the massive iniquity that plagues our country. It took the intersection of a pandemic and yet another brutal police murder to deliver us to this historic moment, a seismic wave of deeper awakening in our country’s consciousness, long-overdue awareness, and a commitment to action and change.

Two weeks ago, George Floyd was brutally murdered before our eyes by the Minneapolis police, and on June 9th, 2020, he was laid to rest in power. Cause of death: our country’s racism and toxic policing and brutality. Yet again. The pandemic already stands testament to so much systemic racism, from the higher death rate of Black Americans from COVID-19 than whites (almost three times), to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) essential workers who have no choice but to show up for their jobs with unsafe or high-risk working conditions and get exposed and sick and die, while many of us work safely distanced at home and order what we need off of Amazon or Instacart or Uber Eats, using people as a virus shield, without a second thought. And how about all the food insecurity, dialed up to 11? The soaring rate of unemployment? Homelessness? So many Black Americans are suffering at a disproportionate rate.

We have been witnessing so many brave Black Americans (and allies) putting their safety and lives on the line to protest the outrageous injustice of George Floyd’s murder at the hands and knee of our racist police and corrupt system, along with all the other horrific deaths from racially motivated lethal force, and all the continued injustice leading up to this multi-crisis moment. The past two weeks, we have watched videos daily of excessive violence from the police and National Guard toward protestors (reminder: who are protesting police brutality), which show such a disregard for life or humanity or decency—oh, the unbridled hatred required to pull down a protestor’s mask and spray them with pepper spray, to fire at them, beat them with batons, tear gas peaceful protestors, shove them, provoke and taunt them, brutally confront and taser them, try to run them over. We have Black Americans fighting for their lives on so many levels, for their children’s lives. Lives that keep being taken, like they don’t matter, because actions speak louder than the words we are screaming: Black Lives Matter.

We are running along the full emotional spectrum, from grief to outrage to extreme exhaustion to anguish to numbness. It changes daily, hourly. We are all navigating through this moment in our own way, from people who cluelessly kept posting pictures of their meals on Instagram the past two weeks (except for that one post with a black box and a hashtag), to some deep wake-ups, to tentative steps in writing a post on social media, to starting an anti-racist book club with friends, to fundraising, to rallying others, to calling out racism, to a march into protests.

I see that we’re all having conversations. Vulnerable ones. Difficult ones. Keep having them, go deep. I’ve been talking with my white friends about where we’re at and the work we’re doing: where we feel shame or confusion, what are we learning, and what’s changing; connecting with family members; engaging in Facebook housecleaning (bye, racist “friend”); checking in with industry colleagues; and even having a long conversation with a local business about why I can no longer buy their product when I saw a member of their family made a donation to the current President’s campaign of hate. I may have considered making that call previously, but after the past two weeks, I felt compelled to act upon my values.

I have spent the past two weeks reading, watching, listening, processing, learning, feeling, grieving, questioning, confronting, having real talk, trying to hold space, and taking a much closer look at myself and my white privilege. Oh, to even be writing this from the comfort of my apartment in San Francisco, with my fridge full of food, my ability to work from home, my career, my education, my travels, my opportunities, my access, my network, my life, my freedom, my future, my safety, my health. To be able to have cannabis delivered to my door while people remain incarcerated for nonviolent and minor cannabis offenses, who haven’t been freed and run an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 in their human cages while our system allows companies to profit off their continued incarceration, our prison-industrial complex. Countless victims of a racist War on Drugs designed to oppress Black people.

I know many of us are finally watching those “hard” documentaries we always had the intention to watch, instead of checking out with whatever Netflix show we like to numb ourselves with. Yes, we need to watch and learn more about injustice and discrimination and systemic racism—to see and understand the many ways things need to drastically change. We need to seek and demand and make space for more Black voices and perspectives in our many input streams—and (thoughtfully) amplify in our output streams. It’s way past time to read the books, the long articles, the blog posts, to listen to the panel discussions and Instagram Live videos and TED Talks and webinars, to take the time to do the work, right now, and for the rest of our lives (I list some resources below). It’s all helping in my current self-analysis, in unpacking my whiteness, in confronting my inherent racism, my white privilege, my white fragility, as I inform my individual plan of action and change. This is my work to figure out, I can’t ask my Black friends and the people I follow to help me with it, although they’re generously offering plenty of guidance if you pay attention.

I am deeply grateful for the incredible access we have, especially right now on social media, to really listen and learn from so many powerful Black voices and from the folks who have been doing racial justice work and activism for a long time. But I’m also trying to be carefully cognizant of this ambush so many Black creators are feeling—a tidal wave of so many new white followers, and comments, and questions. Where were we before? What took us so long, and how long are we going to stay? Thank you to Stephen Satterfield and George McCalman for articulating this. I want to be sensitive to keeping my “white noise” quiet, to be supportive but not have my presence encroach, to listen, and keep the conversations Black-centered.

Even writing this piece brings up issues for me—who am I to be sharing this processing, when there are important voices you should be reading instead? I acknowledge this is a form of white privilege. But (I know, there’s the damn but!) as a columnist, one that many of you have been reading for a long time, I felt impelled to share some of my observations, and the resources and articles shaping my perspective right now.

While I have always considered myself very committed to covering all kinds of diverse businesses and chefs and events in tablehopper, with a particular focus on women and small businesses, I recognize and fully acknowledge that I need to make a concerted effort to specifically elevate more Black businesses and makers and stories in this column and the other outlets I work with. I have fallen short in my coverage. I also need to expand my knowledge and awareness of our national Black food scene, including Black content creators and voices, from food writers to podcasters. I commit to engaging in more food justice work and activism, and to recommit to more volunteering.

Even with all the well-meaning lists we’re seeing and posts about Black restaurants and businesses and artists and fashion designers and filmmakers and musicians to support, we need to pay attention to how we engage. Will our support be short-term or long-term, voyeuristic or authentic (and actionable)? This thought-provoking piece from Ruth Gebreyesus takes a closer look.

By all means, we must support Black business—and especially in this devastating pandemic, support is welcome and overdue. But we can’t just pick up some dinner for the first time from a Black-owned spot we recently learned about and post it on Instagram and mentally check the “I’m an ally!” box. We have to be more than performative (which includes taking selfies at a protest or posting a pic of your donation to the NAACP). With anything I am writing or posting these past two weeks, I keep checking in and asking myself: “Who does this benefit? Myself? Is this virtue signaling? Is this supportive, or performative? Is this educational, helpful, truly in solidarity?” (Learn more in this piece from Ijeoma Oluo.)

And then there’s the inherent racism (and sexism! and anti-LGBTQIA/homophobia!) in our restaurant/F&B industry that desperately needs to be acknowledged and addressed and dismantled and reformed, from structural and staffing issues (do you hire and promote Black employees into management positions?), to sourcing (do you work with any Black farms or wineries or purveyors?), to how Black customers are treated. This piece from chef-writer Amethyst Ganaway is one to read now, as well as this one on our broken restaurant system, also from Ruth Gebreyesus. We have a huge opportunity to make crucial changes, right now, and for our future.

I have so much work to do. We all have so much work to do. And real support that needs to be extended. And justice that must be demanded and served. And racially motivated police brutality that officers need to be held accountable for, leading the way to reform and eradication. The more I learn about what defunding the police actually means and what a new system would look like with reallocated funds, the more I want to help fight for it. There are massive changes that need to be made, a dismantling of this racist and morally bankrupt system that only gets more rotten, and delivered us here, right in this desperately tragic pile-up of human crises.

Where to start the work? I do not purport to be an expert on this, by any means, and I humbly welcome your input if you are compelled to share. But, I do know this: it’s time to unlearn and relearn. Make the shift from “non-racist” to anti-racist. I have been referring to a comprehensive anti-racism resource guide here and you can find resources for white people on anti-racism here.

Show support for protestors by donating through the National Bail Fund Network—there’s a state directory of community bail funds. Contribute to the Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee Bail Fund. You can also find out about local protests you can march in here: @protestsbayarea and @blacklivesmattersf.

Here’s a list of Black organizations to support, and I’m including the Instagram tags of (mostly) Black-led and racial justice organizations to follow, support, and learn from (who also share where to donate and how to help). Obviously, this is by no means comprehensive, but a place to start:
@blklivesmatter
@aclu_nationwide @colorofchange
@blackvisionscollective
@mvmnt4blklives
@blackfutureslab
@untilfreedom
@showingupforracialjustice
@blacksanfrancisco

I am grateful for all the insight and posts from:
@thecollectress
@rachel.cargle
@wkamaubell
@from[underscore]lagos
@shak[underscore]simley
(not sure why I can’t get those two addresses to format correctly)
@whetstonemagazine (be sure to subscribe)
@blackculinary
And always following the beating heart of @engvinny

I pledge to follow, elevate, and feature more Black businesses and people and causes in my work and events, to continue to read and learn and unlearn and listen and feel, to be open, to be uncomfortable, to be accountable, to become a stronger ally, to show up, to get activist training, to call out injustice and racism, to demand an end to police violence and lack of accountability, and to do anything I can to help foster the change we need, healing, equity, equality, the flourishing of Black and all BIPOC communities, justice, deeper understanding, community, peace, love, health, happiness, and safety.

With love and respect,
~Marcia

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