We cannot believe July is over, marking the fourth month of SIP. These are extremely trying times, and, as a reminder, we want to encourage you to take care of your mental health and the mental health of your staff. Linked here is our previous mental health resources email for reference.
Thursday’s GGRA Restaurants Rising webinar, GGRA Restaurants Rising, Stories of Endurance: The Great Outdoors and Beyond, was full of great information and insights on the current state of dining in San Francisco. If you were unable to join, you can find the full recording here. Next week, we are excited to host a panel of talented journalists and writers who will be taking a deep dive into the current media landscape. Join us next Thursday, August 6th, at 2:30pm for GGRA Restaurants Rising, State of the Industry: The New Restaurant Media Landscape. We hope you will be able to join us.
We are also excited to share that on Wednesday, in partnership with San Francisco Travel, the GGRA launched #ShowUsYourMaskSF, a social media campaign encouraging San Francisco diners to share photos of their safe, masked dining experience. We encourage you to share the call for photos with your networks to help showcase and support San Francisco restaurants. We also think this will reassure diners who may be concerned about their safety to venture out to restaurants again. Details and assets are below.
All the best,
GGRA Board President
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants across the country are grappling with a whole new way of life - and so are the journalists that report on them. How has the restaurant media landscape changed given the current climate and what impact have federal, state, and local policies had on the industry in different cities? Join us for a conversation with writers from across the country to learn about how their day to day has shifted, and what they are seeing in their cities.
On Thursday, August 6th at 2:30pm PT, join us for GGRA Restaurants Rising’s, State of the Industry: The New Restaurant Media Landscape. Panelists include Eve Batey, News Editor of Eater San Francisco, Kim Severson, National Food Correspondent for the New York Times, Andrea Strong, Freelance Food Journalist, Food & Wine and Heated, and Jeff Solnet, Principle at Precision.
How did you get your start in food and wine writing and reporting?
I have a long and convoluted story, and probably too long for this, but in short, I was a lawyer, and found that I enjoyed eating out more than corporate law. So after five years, I left and started working front of house for Drew Nieporent. I spent five more years managing and opening restaurants in NYC, then transitioned to food writing after I entered a writing contest and won it. One of the judges was an editor at a magazine and reached out to see if I wanted to work with her. That was 1999. The rest is history.
Given the current climate of the global restaurant scene, what changes have you had to make to your writing and reporting?
I was writing about food and food policy before COVID, and I am still doing that but with a focus pretty much exclusively covering food insecurity and restaurant-related medical science — interviewing doctors and PhDs -- so many doctors—trying to figure out what was safe for the dining public. I was working non stop as Food & Wine and Heated’s coronavirus reporter.
I had a few stories slated on chefs and profiles and recipe-driven stuff and those stories were never written.
What kinds of stories are readers most interested in? What trends are you seeing?
I’d say readers want lots of recipes for cooking at home, lots of where to eat outdoors, and profiles on who’s moving the needle for diversity and food justice. People want to read stories of hope and inspiration. We all need to feel good. What I want to write about is our industry’s survival, about food policy and equity and food justice.
I have found that the stories I am selling have to do with the restaurants’ survival, whether that’s analyzing federal relief bills or state laws and what more needs to be done to ensure this industry’s survival. I am also writing a lot about what the consumer needs to see in terms of dining out again, both indoors and out.
I also do a lot about food insecurity and the food system and its inequities, and how much the disease has pushed the failures of our food system to center stage. It’s also shined a light on the whiteness of our industry and the need to address that both in restaurants and in media.
I also have focused a lot on school and school meals as well and the importance of ensuring that meals get more nutritious and that sugary beverages get out of schools because of the correlation between diet related disease and COVID.
Any tips you can give to readers on how they can support the restaurant industry?
Readers can write to their legislators and encourage restaurant relief, a bail out, and universal health care. Readers can continue to order in for takeout and delivery and if they feel comfortable, eat outdoors. Write letters to your favorite restaurants and tell them how much they have meant to you. I feel like restaurants fit into our lives in very intimate and meaningful ways and letting owners know how they have made you feel over the years, that’s priceless. Gratitude never gets old.
Place you would most like to eat when this is “over"?
My last meal before COVID was at Prune, in the window on a cold day in March. That’s not going to happen again sadly. I’ve been out quite a bit since outdoor dining began but mostly near where I live in Brooklyn. Buttermilk Channel, Frankie’s Spuntino, Gersi, Alta Calidad. But once this is over, and I venture back out on subways, I’d take a meal at Vic’s or Via Carota. It’s nice to dream!
The COVID19 pandemic has taken its toll on independent restaurants. Our goal is to spread the word around San Francisco being open for outdoor dining while raising awareness around the necessary safety measures that need to be taken by consumers and businesses. Not only will this campaign help to support our beloved restaurant industry, but we also hope that it will act as an informational tool for diners, educating them on how they can help make sure they are complying with the necessary safety regulations while enjoying the city’s rich dining scene.
We hope you will join us in sharing your safe-dining photos using the hashtag #ShowUsYourMaskSF. Please also tag @ggrasf, @eatdrinksf and @onlyinsf so that we can reshare. If you would like to encourage your guests to participate, please see the suggested post below.
The Bay Area is fortunate to have many incredible Black-owned restaurants and pop-ups. Find a directory compiled by San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Soleil Ho here. You can also find a list of San Francisco specific restaurants broken down by neighborhood on our consumer-facing page, Eat Drink SF.
Resources compiled by the Independent Restaurant Coalition that we’ve found to be helpful in our efforts to continue to educate ourselves and support the cause: