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Jun 22, 2020 3 min read

This week's tablehopper: soul-searching.

This week's tablehopper: soul-searching.
Don’t miss listening to chef and entrepreneur Jay Foster in this week’s On the Fly podcast. Photo: Shea Evans.
Table of Contents

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

Don’t miss listening to chef and entrepreneur Jay Foster in this week’s On the Fly podcast. Photo: Shea Evans.View tablehopper Newsletter from Tuesday, Jun 23 2020

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