Welcome to p.m. Intel, your midday roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news from publications near and far. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.
- Movie theaters were allowed to reopen across San Francisco at 25 percent capacity this week, but most will remain shut, a coalition of owners said. That’s because the county’s guidance on reopening (which was released on October 7) says that all movie theater concession stands must remain closed, and that patrons may not bring any food into the theater to eat. The rules are intended to ensure that people keep their face coverings on at all times, but the National Association of Theatre Owners of California/Nevada (known as NATO of CA/NV, the group reps local spots like he Metreon, Alamo Drafthouse, Kabuki 8, Cinemark’s Century 9 San Francisco Centre, Cine Arts @ Empire, Embarcadero Center Cinema, Opera Plaza and Regal’s Stonestown, the SF Examiner reports) says that “the restrictions in place present an insurmountable financial challenge for our members” and that their San Francisco-based member theaters won’t reopen if snacks aren’t allowed. Speaking to the SF Chronicle NATO of CA/NV CEO Milton Moritz says “concessions are our profit center” and that “if indoor restaurants can open, what is the difference between them and us?”
- Many Napa and Sonoma wineries have turned to private and amateur firefighters to help fight the Glass Incident Fire, with mixed results. The SF Chronicle notes that Jon Berlin, the co-owner of El Molino Winery, “kept Cal Fire and locals informed of the locations of the fire, cut fire lines with chainsaws and extinguished spot fires with a little backpack sprayer,” helping keep the flames at bay and earning the gratitude of neighbors. ABC 7 reports that other operations were less lauded, with one group of private firefighters hired by area wineries placed under arrest last week, after officials said they started illegal “backfires” (small fires intended to burn away possible fuel for a bigger blaze). Some of these private businesses are just “guys that throw a pickup truck together and a tank in the back. They don’t have any training,” one expert says. “They don’t have insurance, they don’t have workman’s comp. They aren’t even an official business, but they look like a firefighter.”
- Instacart, the San Francisco-based grocery delivery company accused by workers of a lack of anti-coronavirus protections, just secured $200 million more in funding, prompting a new, $17.7 billion valuation for the business, TechCrunch reports. The company has spent tens of millions to support Prop 22, a California ballot measure intended to deny its delivery drivers employee protections, and faces lawsuits over alleged deceptive business practices and failure to pay sales tax. It reportedly lost around $300 million last year, and has had one single, profitable quarter during its 8-plus years in existence.
- Walnut Creek‘s City Council approved a 15 percent cap on the fees delivery apps can charge restaurants, Bay City News reports. According to City Attorney Steve Mattas, if any of the apps charge more than that, restaurants can pursue civil, legal action to against the companies.
- Alameda County hasn’t opened for indoor dining yet, but most diners polled by Berkeleyside said that they aren’t interested in coming inside quite yet. Restaurateurs, however, were less homogenous, with some saying that outdoor feels safest for now, while others are ready to reopen dining rooms today.
- Occult-themed bar Old Devil Moon opened four years ago last month, and they’re celebrating with a 10-day event that includes 20 craft beers on tap. [SF Gate]
- After 33 years in business, Sunny Donuts, a popular San Jose shop opened by Cambodian refugee Chip Lim in 1982, has closed for good. [NBC Bay Area]