Hello dear readers,
To those who celebrate, I hope you had a lovely Passover and Easter (here’s a pic of my socially distanced Pasqua from 54 Mint that I enjoyed with my sis). Are you making time to admire all the springtime flowers on display right now? They’re bringing me moments of delight on my daily neighborhood walks. Wisteria has special mood-boosting powers, I am convinced.
I hope you’re all hanging in there, staying healthy, and hopefully finding some moments of calm and joy, or at least some pleasure in a good meal (or phone call). It has been almost a month since the stay-at-home order took effect here in SF, although it feels like a lifetime ago. We’re all taking it day by day (even though they’re blurring together).
So much keeps changing: restaurants that were initially closed are now trying their hand at offering a minimal takeout/delivery menu (like Son’s Addition, La Palma (!), Kahnfections, and I saw El Buen Comer announce some pre-orders via their Instagram stories), while other restaurants have sadly closed (some permanently, like Mestiza. On a positive note, new initiatives to feed different communities keep springing up (so inspiring!).
It’s a lot to keep track of. I’ve been trying my best to update you on new menus and offers and resources on my @tablehopper Instagram Stories every day (you can find past posts in my Highlights, including East Bay, North Bay, and 650 updates, along with F&B resources, and how to find or give help), and have been posting a bunch on Twitter and Facebook as well. You can find ways to give or receive help, meals, and more in this tablehopper article.
As I check in with chefs and friends in the industry, I keep hearing so many stories, and seeing so many smart innovations and ideas as restaurants try to survive this catastrophic period. So, I decided to launch a podcast, called On the Fly by tablehopper. It’s going to feature an almost-daily interview with San Francisco Bay Area chefs, restaurateurs, and other members of our beloved hospitality industry—from the big names to the tiny neighborhood joints—as they fight to adapt and survive during the coronavirus pandemic. The preview and first two episodes are live, featuring Laurence Jossel of Nopa and Laurie Thomas of the GGRA. Please read more in today’s post.
I was actually inspired to start this podcast in an unexpected way: my cousin’s husband and their eight-year-old son Kai, who are up in Washington, have been doing a daily podcast called The Peddicords & the Pandemic. They’ve been interviewing members of our family for the podcast, and it got me thinking: “This would be a great way to share the stories and ideas I’m hearing and seeing…”
I couldn’t have launched this podcast without the extraordinary Lola Yen, a longtime tablehopper reader who generously volunteered to help me with my reporting on the pandemic, and has quickly become the amazing producer of this podcast! She has been such an incredible wing woman as we figure this all out. I’m so incredibly grateful for all her time, insight, acumen, and dedication to helping me get this live!
I also want to thank designer Erik Schmitt of studio1500, who kindly offered to create a logo for On the Fly. So fly! Thank you, Erik! Talented and generous, what a winning combo. Check out his work at studio1500sf.com.
So many of us are wondering (and freaking out) over how we’re going to get our bills paid, rent covered, and food on the table. Far too many jobs lost, livelihoods upended, and revenue streams that have vaporized. I’m so fortunate to live in my tiny rent-controlled apartment, and 20 years of freelance writing and self-employment have taught me how to be frugal and scrappy (and how to stay sane while working from home). I’m grateful to be writing copy for a cannabis company’s website and marketing materials right now—it’s going to keep me busy over the next month—but without any ads on my runsheet or the ability to host events, things are gonna be extra-tight over here.
This podcast has already cost me some money to produce (equipment, music, hosting), let alone the late hours I’ve been pulling on it, and I’m going to need to hire an editor to help me with it soon (Lola already has a full-time job!). So if you can put anything in the tip jar, even a buck, it would help a hopper out! (Here’s my Venmo handle—let me know if you’d prefer to use something else, like PayPal, Square, or Apple Pay.) Many people need financial assistance right now, and I know I’m in a much better situation than some, but even a little will go a long way over here to keep me chugging. Thank you so very much.
Since I’m going to be focusing my time on this podcast right now, I’m going to be backing off my writing over here for a little bit. I’m busy writing episode intros and notes instead! I’ll still be hopping into your inbox with some updates, and I have another idea I’m working on to help support restaurants—more on that soon. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the podcast to keep up on everything! (You can subscribe on Spotify for now, and I’m waiting for Apple Podcasts to approve it—do I know anyone who works for iTunes? Wink.)
Oh, and this just rolled in as I was writing this intro: tomorrow (April 15th) is no longer the day we all hemorrhage cash we don’t have to pay our taxes (bless the reprieve), but it is the first-ever 415 Day, and they want to encourage San Franciscans to order takeout (or delivery). Take a look at their site—there’s a curated directory of SF restaurants that are currently open for takeout and/or delivery (and restaurants, get listed on there!). Tag your pics on social with #415day.
I also want to do a wellness check-in with you. If you’re having some trouble with sleep or keeping those anxious thoughts in check (who isn’t?), I wrote a big piece last week in mymilligram that was designed to help: Tips on How to Microdose for Sanity, Sleep, and Self-Care While Staying at Home. I hope it can help you find some relief, whether it’s a restorative bath with cannabis bath salts, a sleep aid, a low-dose canna beverage to help you unwind, or a topical for your dry, over-washed hands. I gotchoo. If you’re even remotely canna-curious, now is the perfect time to experiment with microdosing since many of us are staying at home and in a familiar environment. (Or if you’re not at your home and need some help coping with your environment, or your quarantine cohorts, cannabis can help with that too.)
Once again, mille grazie to my pal Sean Timberlake for proofreading my column today!
I’m thinking of all of you. Sending best wishes. Stay healthy and sane. XO ~Marcia
Introducing On the Fly by tablehopper, a Podcast Covering How the Bay Area F&B Industry Is Fighting to Adapt and Survive During the Coronavirus Crisis
Launching today (April 14th, 2020), is On the Fly by tablehopper, an almost-daily interview addressing the monumental changes the F&B industry is experiencing in this age of the coronavirus pandemic. On the Fly is hosted by yours truly, speaking with San Francisco Bay Area chefs, restaurateurs, and other members of the hospitality industry—from the big names to the tiny neighborhood joints—as they fight to survive.
The impact of the coronavirus on the hospitality ecosystem is far-reaching and utterly devastating—businesses are doing everything they can to stay afloat, help support their teams and suppliers, and fight to keep a light on. On the Fly will share their stories: how are they pivoting, what’s working, what needs to change, what’s next, and how the public can help. There will also be inspiring stories of how the industry is rallying to feed many communities in need through various initiatives. You can listen to the preview episode for more.
Our first guest is Laurence Jossel, executive chef/co-owner of Nopa, who has one of the biggest hearts in our local restaurant scene. He talks about the adaptations and adjustments he’s making to keep operating right now, from how they structured Nopa’s takeout model to their involvement with the SF New Deal initiative (and he shares the secret to his masterful fried chicken—you really need to bring some home).
The second episode is with Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and a San Francisco restaurateur behind Rose’s Cafe and Terzo. The hot topic of our discussion is the temporary 15 percent cap Mayor London Breed just placed on the often-excessive commission fees charged by third-party delivery apps, which can reach up to 30 percent or more. We discuss the Mayor’s decision to help support San Francisco restaurants with this order, talk about some of the confusion surrounding the use and terms of these delivery apps, and Laurie shares additional thoughts about the massive challenges our restaurants are currently facing.
Each episode of On the Fly includes a quick feature called the “Two-Top,” highlighting two things listeners should know about, like a can’t-miss takeout special, which restaurants are feeding their fellow industry workers, or an initiative to support. Details on anything mentioned in the segment will be listed in the episode notes.
On the Fly’s name is inspired by kitchen slang for when a dish was forgotten or is a last-minute addition or change, and the kitchen needs to drop everything to push it through quickly and get it done, pronto.
On the Fly doesn’t have a set schedule, but will be posted almost-daily for now, maybe every other day. We’re gonna crank these out as fast as we can. Tremendous thanks to Lola Yen, my volunteer producer, who has been my right-hand woman on this project. The podcast is hosted here, and you can subscribe to the RSS or in Spotify for now. On the Fly should hopefully be listed in Apple Podcasts soon (I’m just waiting for it to get approved) and will be added to other services ASAP.
Any Bay Area F&B businesses or individuals or initiatives who are doing something innovative or charitable and want to be featured on the podcast—or know of a story that needs to be told—can fill out the form at bit.ly/ontheflyguest for consideration. (Please please please don’t email me personally, I can barely manage my inbox right now, thank you.) We won’t be able to feature GoFundMe fundraisers for individuals/businesses (sadly there are just too many), just initiatives. Stay strong.
It would help a bunch if you can share On the Fly with your friends and networks and communities. My fellow journalists, I’d really appreciate any coverage you can offer! Thanks for tuning in.