A different breed of Wine Country tasting room
Sebastopol organic chicken finger company Hip Chicks is grabbing attention with its new “Chicken Nugget Tasting Room and Lunch Counter,” and unlike the area’s many other tasting rooms, visitors don’t need to spit out their samples. Hip Chicks, co-owned by couple Serafina Palendech and chef Jennifer Johnson, a Chez Panisse alum, currently sell their nuggets, meatballs, and chicken strips in grocery store freezer aisles. Now, their location in Sebastapol serves a lunch of nuggets and chicken finger flights, as well other poultry delights like wings and fried chicken sandwiches.
Zappata Mexican Grill has closed
Zapata Mexican Grill closed this weekend after 23 years of business in the Castro. Owner Jorge Perez narrowly avoided closure in 2015 when he verbally negotiated a lease extension with landlord Les Natali, but he was seemingly unable to do so again. Natali is notorious in the neighborhood for letting his storefronts, such as the Patio Cafe space, sit vacant: That business has been empty for 15 years, although a Hamburger Mary’s franchise is finally due to move in after labor day.
Survey says: Californians don’t tip well
Data collected by mobile payments system Square ranked tippers across the 50 states, and parsimonious Californians fared poorly, tipping just 15.2 percent on average. That makes the state the fourth worst nationwide, after Massachusetts (15 percent), DC (14.9 percent), and Hawaii (14.8 percent). Idaho residents tipped the most — 17.4 percent on average.
The rising role of delivery for restaurants
By 2020, 40 percent of restaurant sales could be done in delivery rather than at restaurants themselves, or so a trend report from Morgan Stanley predicts. The advent of online ordering is partly behind the push, and in 2017, more delivery orders were made online than by phone. “In 2014, delivery was zero percent of the business,” Souvla owner Charles Bililies tells the Chronicle. “Now it’s about 24 percent of the business, which is pretty remarkable.” According to the report, restaurants may change physically to reflect that new normal, adding more kitchen space and specific delivery windows, perhaps at the expense of dining room space and seating. By contrast, other businesses might come to further emphasize in-restaurant dining as a special experience with a renewed emphasis on service and atmosphere.