How could I not run this fantastic photo of Coit Tower by my pal Ron Henggeler? Tonight’s the night.
Whoa, this past week has been en fuego (and I’m not just talking about our beloved Gigantes!). Was great to see a bunch of you at the incroyable Champagne Bureau tasting on Tuesday (you can see a few of my favorites here and here), which was followed by the always fun Wine & Spirits Top 100. Yeah, Tuesday was quite the double play. More winning: you can check out the finalists for the upcoming Good Food Awards, from cheese to charcuterie to beer. The final winners will be announced on January 8th, 2015.
A personal highlight for me last week was heading down to Mountain View on Friday to interview Jacques Pépin for a Google Fireside Chat—I think they’ll be posting a video of the interview soon, I’ll let you know!
While I (hopefully) have your attention, I wanted to be sure you saw this Indiegogo fundraiser for the San Francisco Bay Guardian—they want to print a final farewell issue, which they deserve to do after 48 years, and to preserve the online and print archives. Can you please contribute and spread the word? If the Bay Guardian has ever written up your business, promoted your event, or gotten you in the Best of the Bay, please, throw ‘em a few bucks. Or more—give ‘til it hurts. Wouldn’t you like to be able to access any press writeups you got? As a former writer for the paper, I would love to be able to access my previous clips and articles. It’s an important part of our city’s archive! Let’s work it out, please and thanks!
A big thing hitting the news right now is about a few San Francisco Bay Area restaurants (Bar Agricole, Trou Normand, Camino and Duende in Oakland, and Comal in Berkeley) that are doing away with tips, and moving to a more European-style service charge of 20 percent. If you have ever dined at Chez Panisse, you are already familiar with this model. Ditto Coi, which has been charging an 18 percent service fee for some time that is shared by the staff.
Many things are driving the momentum on this new revenue-sharing model, one that I am excited to see. It’s about making sure back-of-house employees can earn a better living (and in our time of the great line cook shortage, this is a huge and important issue). There are a lot of facts to understand (like the impact of an upcoming minimum wage increase, or how under the current law, cooks can’t be tipped)—any changes impact a lot of hardworking folks in the restaurant industry. It’s a complex issue, and is opening up some much-needed dialogue about and changes to our currently rather flawed tipping system.
I’m dismayed to hear and see so many comments from diners viewing these restaurant tipping changes/service charges as motivated by restaurateur greed. It’s the opposite. It’s about making a working environment that’s better for everyone, front and back of house. It’s about retaining good talent. It’s about making restaurant industry jobs better as a career choice—they’re not just jobs to take on an as-needed basis. Dining in the Bay Area is respected as a high art, so why not take proper care of the people who make it so?
I wanted to write more thoughts on this, but in light of the aftermath of a tech disaster I have been grappling with (see below), I am out of time. More soon. For now, please read this SFGate article and have a listen to this program that aired on KQED yesterday.
There are many ways to get a headache, but I think being locked out of your website’s back end due to a database snafu for more than 36 hours when you’re on deadline is a guaranteed migraine. Yeah, today’s tablehopper issue was a bit impacted—we couldn’t access our site until this morning. Our current motto: doing the best we can. As for the Giants, well, tonight is about being the best. DO IT!