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Bay Area Cold Snap Poses Problems for Outdoor Dining

Also: Dominique Crenn works for free, and more news to know today

A cordoned off street in Soho with only a handful of people...
Outdoor dining is great when it’s warm out, but with temperatures dropping and rainy weather in the Bay Area, it’s getting harder and harder to fill those tables up.
Photo by Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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.

  • The Bay Area’s outdoor diners are getting their first taste of winter weather, and faced with plummeting temperatures and high winds many turned to takeout, KPIX reports. Even those bundled against the cold headed indoors when rain hit this weekend, though KRON 4 reports that some folks still dined out in tented-over spots in the more temperate parts of San Francisco. Some restaurateurs tell KPIX that even in normal times, rainy weather decreases business by around 30 percent, so showers in pandemic times can be disastrous. According to ABC 7, warming outdoor diners with heat dishes costs an extra $5000 per month, so hopes are high for a mild winter with little to no rain.
  • Restaurateurs like Dominique Crenn tell the Washington Post that they go to great (unpaid) lengths to score press mentions and media attention. “Look at the [James] Beard House — I did a dinner there in 2011, and not only did it cost me $10,000 for the flights, food, staff, it was a lot of time away from my restaurant, and I don’t get paid,” Crenn says. When asked why she took the gratis work, she says she “thought it would be a way to bring attention to what we were doing. We all need exposure, that’s the reality of it.”
  • Resy has a nice longread on the younger generation of folks bolstering up businesses in Oakland’s Chinatown, many of whom are the kids (or grandkids) of folks who launched businesses in the neighborhood decades ago.
  • Sommelier Madison Michael used to be a partner at Fillmore-area fine dining spot Merchant Roots, but she sold her interest in the business and “was excited to figure out what her next adventure would be,” the SF Chronicle reports. Then the pandemic hit, and now she “has fully furnished apartments in both Portland and San Francisco, and is trying to figure out the shape of her life.”
  • Real Produce International Market, a Bay Area-based, family-owned and operated grocer, hopes to open an outpost in Palo Alto’s College Terrace Centre. [Palo Alto Weekly]
  • Chez Panisse has been making extra efforts to support local farmers. [Berkeleyside]

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