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Pandemic Binge Drinking Is a Myth, Wine Analyst Says

Also: Albertsons is reportedly firing its delivery drivers, and more news to know today

Israeli Wineries Finish Challenging 2020 Harvest Amid Coronavirus Crisis
The author of the annual State of the Wine Industry Report says that reports of pandemic-era wine consumption have been greatly exaggerated
Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

  • The SF Chronicle reports that Silicon Valley Bank wine division EVP Rob McMillan — the author of the influential State of the Wine Industry report — says that contrary to how things seemed on social media (or at home), “there was no real evidence of widespread binge drinking” during the pandemic. According to McMillan, 2020 wasn’t much different booze-wise than 2019, with flat growth in the wine biz year-over-year. According to reporter Esther Mobley, it’s likely that the uptick in sales seen in March and April were panic purchases made by folks who were also grabbing beans and toilet paper by the cartload, and not a reflection of actual consumption. Also, McMillan says, many folks just moved their drinking from restaurant to home, so “they didn’t drink more; they just shopped differently.”
  • Knock reports that Albertsons Companies, the Boise-based grocery store super-conglomerate that owns Safeway, Lucky, Vons, and many others, will use the labor latitude allowed them with the passage of Prop 22 to fire its unionized delivery drivers in California and replace them with “a third-party delivery service using independent contractors” with companies like SF-based Doordash. An Albertsons spokesperson told Business Insider that “In early December, Albertsons Companies made the strategic decision to discontinue using our own home delivery fleet of trucks in select locations, including Southern California, beginning February 27, 2021.”
  • 34-location chain Black Angus has temporarily closed most of its 15 California restaurants for the foreseeable future. [Bay Area News Group]
  • Ed Quiambao has owned Mission District Filipino spot Kababayan Fast Food since 1995, but now he’s turning the spot over to his daughter so he can retire. [Mission Local]
  • East Bay nonprofit Oakland Bloom helps immigrant chefs on their way to business ownership. [Berkeleyside]
  • At least one worker at a Benicia Raley’s Supermarket is ill with COVID-19 after workers held a maskless pot luck at the store. [Bay Area News Group]
  • Bay Area food bank managers say demand is greater than ever. [KTVU]
  • Moongate Lounge veterans William Cao and Danny Louie have launched the Gamsaan Cocktail Co., a booze pop-up known for a rum-and-boba drink that’s packed with floating tapioca pearls. [Vinepair]