The protests following the killing of George Floyd have opened a national dialogue about race relations, affecting all aspects of society, including the food community. Read on for our coverage.
Outdoor dining also is top of mind, as the Philadelphia suburbs got permission last weekend to set out socially distant tables. The city starts Friday with New Jersey joining on Monday, and we run it down.
The desire to support more black-owned restaurants now, amid the protests over the killing of George Floyd (not to mention a pandemic disproportionately affecting African Americans), is timely, productive, and hopefully lasting. Craig LaBan notes two lists of black-owned restaurants in Philadelphia — one set up by Infatuation.com and another compiled by a group of professionals — and enumerates his own favorites. In his review of Booker’s in West Philadelphia, published in February, Craig wrote that he “felt a genuine tug of NOLA nostalgia” while tucking into that blackened catfish you see above.
Many local restaurateurs and chefs, in a white-male-dominated industry, are finding themselves compelled to speak up and take a side in the Black Lives Matter movement. Some, unused to grappling with cultural competency, are flailing in those attempts, writes The Inquirer’s Samantha Melamed. The dialogue is resulting in a larger reckoning with internal issues of racism that some hope could lead to as profound shift as the #MeToo movement had in changing in kitchen culture.
Meanwhile, a chef and cofounder of the Hungry Pigeon, a decorated restaurant in Queen Village, has quit amid an outcry from both his staff and the public over a racist Instagram story he posted. The restaurant is closed as his partner tries to regroup.
Outdoor dining has started in the burbs, and will be legal in the city on Friday and in New Jersey on Monday. Let’s preview. Fun facts: Rouge, the first restaurant to offer outdoor dining on Rittenhouse Square when it opened in 1998, will do only three sidewalk tables, per the spacing requirements.
And let’s hear it for Branden McRill and his team at Sunset Social, a vast beer garden at Cira Green in University City. It’s been renamed Sunset Socially Distant this summer.
Check this growing database of restaurants offering outdoor dining in the Philadelphia area. Know of others? Add them!
In Berwyn, Mike DiDomenico went on Facebook to describe how he “pandemic-proofed” his restaurant, 30 Main. The public reaction was — how should we say? — mixed.
For years, writer Anndee Hochman dreaded going to restaurants. “For so long, restaurants had been a source of deep unease,” she writes for us. “I had to teach my hyperactive brain to stop envisioning catastrophe and stay anchored in the sensory lushness of it all.” Then came COVID-19. She realizes that she misses them.
Like many grocers, Weavers Way Co-op general manager Jon Roesser is adjusting to a new way of doing business. “All day long, you greet people more so with waves and head nods and that sort of thing — these are people that you would normally hug, and now you’re staying at least six feet apart,” he told reporter Jenn Ladd. “You wave and maybe say hello, but that’s it. It sucks. It’s just not who we are, it’s not who we want to be.”
Bucks County’s Nina’s Waffles & Ice Cream has opened for the season in Doylestown, Newtown, and Lahaska, as well as in a new location at 110 S. Main St. in New Hope. Its original New Hope location on Mechanic Street, which opened in 2012, was just a little bit off of the beaten path, said owners Louie Zanias and Shawn Lawson.