I've hired one of those lawyers who I don't pay unless we win to sue my boss. Instead of paychecks on 3/4, we each got $400 and a promise to be paid within a few days. Our restaurant shut down 3/17 and the owners ran away with everything.
Our checks included our credit card tips. I'm in Florida and haven't received a cent (or even a decision) about unemployment.
Just because captalism makes your creation inviable doesn't mean it's not valuable.
There are so many little shops and restaurants and wonderful places that didn't make it past a few years. Many of them won awards and got good write ups in food magazines. They still closed because restaurants are a thin margin business, and rent and insurance and hiring and training is fucking expensive and time consuming.
So where do we go from here? Will every place be a Starbucks or a mcDonald's? The only other way is to subsidize businesses that contribute to the community with excellent good and services. And we're not there yet.
I have heard the argument said that refusal to raise the federal minimum wage hurts the economy.
With the price of everything rising due to inflation, even a restaurant that shaves its margins to preserve “affordable” prices won’t compete if groceries and rent take larger and larger pieces of people’s income.
It just makes sense to keep your population’s wages up - and minimum wage does have a trickle up affect - so that they can spend more on glasses of wine or buy more glasses more often.
That’s just an example, because all sectors of an economy thrive when the majority of a population has extra money for non-essentials. It also hurts monopolies by allowing consumers to not chase product that is cheaper by $1 thanks to a giant monolith’s streamlined logistics.
But we’re too busy worrying about how expendable most employees are, and how “easy” the work is to justify making profit margins for giant corporations slimmer.
Nah the article jumps around a bit. She was describing their last service, where she and a few others were working and some of the staff that weren't working that shift decided to dine in one last time.
After the meeting, there was some directionless shuffling. Should we collect our things? Grab our knives? Stay and have a drink? "There was still one last dinner, so four of us — Ashley and I; our general manager, Anna; and Jake, a beloved line cook — worked the last shift at Prune for who knows how long. Some staff members remained behind to eat with one another, spending their money in house."
I see that four actually worked, the two owners, the general manager, and the line cook. The others paid for their meals.
This is worth the read. It's long. It's heartbreaking. It's Gabrielle's truth, along with hundreds of other brilliant, talented chef/proprietors in NYC. I don't know her well. But I've eaten from her menu often over the years. In a city known for it's food and drink, Prune is the epitome of where I liked to spend my money off-hours.
I love the NYC food & beverage industry. There are few cities that can compare. I don't mean quality. There are great restaurants around the world. I'm talking diversity and the sheer number of amazing options. It's restaurants like Prune that give The City it's reputation as a culinary delight. You could eat out at an incredible restaurant 365 days straight, never visit the same one twice and still have regrets for the ones you missed. These places also tend to be the definition of "family" we in the business often look for.
After 21 years, I left the NYC industry because the kinds of places I wanted needed to eat, drink and work in were clearly becoming unsustainable. I watched many of my favorite spots close up shop, week after week. The cost of living was making rents, wages and utilities unbelievably overburdensome. The margins were becoming razor thin. Some of the staff would clear more than the owner. The writing was plainly on the wall. While the virus claims thousands of human souls, it also looks to be the final nail in the coffin of these places we call home. I'm seeing similar stories around the country. When we're finally allowed to wander back into the world at large, where exactly will we wander to?
I have about 15 yrs in and I'm feeling the same way. I signed up for a webinar with Jon Taffer about this "new world" for the restaurant business. There were some points of what to expect, but then he talked about his new restaurant with a fully automatic kitchen. No people and it would feature a webcam for everyone to watch.
The staff creates the experiences and environment, not robots. If we look at things like the removal of the store cashier, terrible profit margins, surcharges, etc. The laws/regulations will only become stricter. It is blatantly obvious that we are not "essential" despite this being our livelihoods. We do not have many options. I'm working my ass off $9/hour trying to force carryout to work, but most profits are being used up in plastic containers, bags, etc.
We'll have to see what happens as we come out of this. I think there's little chance of returning to the "old normal". When the country reopens for business, will customers WANT to hang out at bars and restaurants again? Will people WANT to gather in great numbers for theater, film, concerts and sporting events? Let's be honest. We're facing the probability of another COVID-19 breakout come fall, with the arrival of the seasonal flu season. The next breakout is very likely to be more widespread than what we're living through now. We're most likely not looking at the **ability** of returning to normal or creating a new one until a year from now.
Jon Taffer... If we **ignore** *Bar Rescue* and write it off as mediocre reality TV, we can really take a look at Taffer's success. He's well known for pushing the OVERALL customer experience, primarily in the world of casual dining and nightlife. I don't believe he's opened or consulted on a James Beard awarded or New York Times 2-star restaurant. I don't think he's opened or consulted on a "top 50 bar". That's not his milieu. While I agree the industry should be paying more attention to overall customer experience, no automated kitchen is going to produce a menu worthy of awards and ratings or any establishment where the food and drink play a more central roll in the overall experience... at least for the foreseeable future.
The real question is, what will customers be looking for in the aftermath of COVID-19? People are cooking again. They're making their own cocktails. They're isolating from their friends and families. Will customers want to go out for the quality meal that they aren't equipped to make at home? Will we see a return of the 50s-70s; where simple was better; of having friends over for dinner, followed by cocktails and pinochle or bridge (or Xbox and PlayStation)? Or will they go back to working 70 hours a week and want to break out of the house/office with a vengeance, looking to escape reality again? We simply don't know. Perhaps the new normal will require landlords to greatly reduce their rents. Maybe real estate in general will return to some kind of sanity.
Unfortunately, we're in a wait and see holding pattern. Humans are generally not very good with the "unknown". We typically fear it greatly. The entire hospitality industry is most likely facing a major shakeup. We'll have to figure it out and roll with it. We've been doing just that for at least 90 years, since the end of Prohibition. Stick close to your "family" and we'll figure it out together.
Lol, I take it you didn’t even make it past the title before rushing to post this? That’s a very good review, by Pete Wells no less. He gave them a higher rating then he’s given to some Michelin starred restaurants.
How was that trashing Prune? Did you even read the review? I assume you looked at the two stars and misunderstood it as a bad thing, even though this is the rating scale:
>What the Stars Mean: Ratings range from zero to four stars. Zero is poor, fair or satisfactory. One star, good. Two stars, very good. Three stars, excellent. Four stars, extraordinary.
I'm half-awake and only starting my first cup of coffee as I read this one. She really paints an excellent picture of what people in the industry like me are going through. I hate to think that all of my restaurant friends and I aren't ever going to make a duck-fat infused manhattan, or some wild shit because the only businesses that got bailed out were the taco bells, shake shacks, and big chains. I'm even more concerned that I"m gonna have to change careers along with every other maitre d', sommelier, or server who can actually do their job correctly.
Fat Washing and Infusing are BASICALLY the same thing. The process is a little more time consuming, but bacon-fat washed bourbon, or peanut butter washed whiskies have been on people's drink menus for years now. I did a bacon-wash of some evan williams single barrel bourbon recently and even my non whiskey-drinking friends found it drinkable.
Prune did a very healthy business on its own - it was the sort of place where people would line up for hours to have brunch. Lasting 20 years in the same spot in the east village is no small feat. Landlords have been squeezing small businesses there for a while now.
Maybe from a business perspective, but like all good chefs she's passionate about the experience of eating in her restaurant. I don't think she's romanticizing it as much as mourning the fact that it doesn't mean as much to people anymore.
For what it's worth, seamless, delivery.com etc have stopped taking a cut during the pandemic.
I've also seen restaurants up the prices on their online orders to make up for the piece of the pie seamless takes out
I totally get that, but there are definitely ways to get around that by hiring someone to create their own website and ordering system. Though that is definitely more expensive initially and has less visibility than grubhub obviously. Just having any kind of online ordering is better than none
The percentage they take is based on how visible they make your restaurant. When you open the app, the first restaurant you see is the restaurant giving them the biggest slice of the pie. 20-30% is standard for grubhub/seamless.
NYC has been squeezing its small businesses, small landlords and regular workers for decades in favor of corporation with tons of liquidity options. The PPP ran out of money in a few days because banks were prioritizing big corporate companies like shake shack, getting 10M. We need better safety nets.
Agreed, but in addition to safety nets and better small business policy, I think she's saying this is about our community aligning resources with priorities. If intimate, innovative dining experiences don't matter, well then Prune shouldn't exist. It sounds like a sad prospect to me and hopefully people will think about that when we have the chance to make and spend money again.
Yeah, none of this is new, NYC has been sitting on the knife's edge for a while. We've all been seeing our favorite small businesses close due to astronomical rents for a while now. All while storefronts sit vacant while the ruling class waits for big money leases from chain stores and banks.
Maybe this will finally be the catalyst for us to vote in someone who will do something about it. The alternative is a New York for the rich, most of them never stepping foot in their piggy bank apartments, and the meat robots who continue to make them their billions.
Sometimes I daydream that 'rona will finally make people wake up to realize that we need a massive redistribuiton of wealth, the likes of which has never happened. But then I remember that sports will be back soon, and society will continue to just be fat and complacent, while the rulers keep making their billions.
I mean, let's be honest, this is going to be the catalyst of a commercial real estate collapse nationwide. The Gap says [they aren't paying rent.](https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/23/business/gap-financials-coronavirus/index.html) They burned through $1b in cash in two months, and are projecting to only have $750m in cash next week. The Gap was uncharacteristically well financed, so imagine how this is playing out throughout all retailers.
Even if you were to lift restrictions tomorrow, I'm willing to bet that a large segment of these retail locations are just going to be permanently closed because the companies operating them are likely financially distressed.
It's communism to have an overloaded government taking money out of people's pockets for social issues that go nowhere, only wanting to be padded on the back for trying their best.
Let businesses and families thrive with small government and low entry level requirements to start a business. Lower taxes so people decide what to with their money rather than some bureaucrat in DC or Albany.
This will never happen because we feel that we need the government because the media tells us we do. We don't need them. They need us.
this comments is full of gems:
1. an applebee’s or rite aid is going into a space the size of prune.
2. “her restaurant collapsed in weeks”
3. restaurants wil be forced into bankruptcy and sold to conglomerates
your breathtaking lack of knowledge is matched only by your crippping cowardice
ok, toddler dick, give me your input on my build out cost, monthly rent, food costs, labor costs, cost of unemployment insurance, sales tax, workers comp insurance, health inspections, ansul and hood inspections, on premise license fees, PPP loans, all the stuff...
tell me how its all going to go down for this industry that you have nothing to do with you as you eat your 3rd hard boiled egg of the morning.
Actually it was a Classic French Omelette with chives, parsley, chervil and a side of bacon. Flakey biscuits not pictured. [Have a look](http://imgur.com/gallery/EUBqkU5).
Maybe if you'd shut the fuck up for a moment I can explain that my comment was about how my city and birthplace is about to lose a precious resource: fine restaurant owners and actual small businesses like yourself that make this city so special... asshole.
Calm the fuck down a little, some of us are trying to fucking sympathize.
I appreciate that, really. What burns my ass is people who say "its over" at every crisis. Man, we know that and still we keep doing it, every single shift, every single brunch. Dude, fuck brunch. We all hate brunch. But we do it anyway - give you delicious food and drinks and put up with attitude and bills with very little actual financial reward to the owners..and still we keep doing it.
And we will keep doing it after this. If not us some other knuckle head dreamer will take over our space. Its not the city it was 30 years ago but people still want it. I think that was the point of her piece and I tend to agree
edit: the omelette looks good.
I wish nothing but the best for you and for Prune, its a labor of love, no doubt. I had the chance to work food service at the food booths off center street and at Maxim's many, many years ago. Its not for the weak of heart, and that was just working there, forget about running the place.
The author was insightful and I'm glad you can validate her experience -- you're right when you say I have no idea what its like in that world, I'm sure I can't even imagine.
Either way, apologies for the mislead and my knee jerk response. I guess we're all extra crispy these days. I'm looking forward to seeing Prune and your place on the other side of this shit show, brother.
I consider 9/11 a crisis. I was certainly around - and stayed around - and certainly an adult.
Places like mine may collapse and yes the system is designed to make us fail. But what you don't realize is that every day is a struggle - way before corona and it will be after corona. What most of us go through just to keep the doors open and the lights on would make your head spin. And I'm one of the lucky ones if you consider longevity a sign of success. What I can tell you is its always a fight - between crazy employees and landlords and the crushing taxes from NY State. Corona is just another kick in the dick to us.