1. Chef Michael White leaves Altamarea Group
New York chef Michael White has left his post with Altamarea Group, the restaurant group he co-founded with Merrill Lynch co-president Ahmass Fakahany in 2008. The group runs 15 dining locations globally including Marea, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini and Nicoletta Pizzeria.
Marea, which White opened with Fakahany in 2009, was been awarded two Michelin stars in 2012 as well as the title of Best New Restaurant in 2010 by the James Beard Foundation. Marea and Ai Fiori both maintained their one-star ratings in the 2021 NYC Michelin standings.
“Michael is no longer involved with Altamarea Group, but we are very grateful for all his contributions to the company,” a spokesperson for Altamarea Group told GrubStreet. The representative also confirmed that White left the city at the beginning of the pandemic, returning to his home in the Hamptons last March.
In the wake of White’s departure, Lauren DeSteno has been named executive chef of Marea and Ai Fiori while Bill Dorrler was appointed to the same position for Osteria Morini and Nicoletta Pizzeria according to GrubStreet. The company website has not been updated to reflect this nor could the company be reached for comment.
2. Chloe Coscarelli sues Bain Capital for trademark infringement
By Chloe co-founder Chloe Coscarelli has sued Bain Capital and other investors, which bid to acquire the brand out of bankruptcy in March. The stalking horse bidders were directed by the court to come up with a new name for the concept as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Coscarelli is suing the company over the use of the trademark before the July 27 bankruptcy sale.
Coscarelli in 2018 sued the former co-owner, ESquared Hospitality (co-founder Samantha Wasser was ESquared’s creative director for restaurant development when the chain was founded in 2014), over its use of her name and social media accounts.
“[ESquared] sought to maximize their internal rate of return by exploiting what the company referred to as its ‘crown jewel asset’— the trademark featuring Chloe’s name,” Coscarelli said in court documents.
By Chloe’s parent company BC Hospitality Group, which is controlled by ESquared, declared bankruptcy in 2020.
3. Texas makes cocktails to-go legal
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 1024 last week making cocktails to-go legal. Texas will be the 10th state to make COVID-era cocktails laws permanent.
Under the bill, cocktails, prepared in restaurants with on-site kitchens and mixed-beverage permits, drinks must be purchased with food and in a tamper-proof container.
Abbott issued a waiver for beer, wine, and cocktail kits with bottles less than 375 milliliters in March 2020, which was scheduled to end in May of that year. Then, in June, the governor, the Texas Restaurant Association, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission included mixed drinks to-go in the waiver and extended it indefinitely. This newest bill makes those waivers permanent.
“Gov. Abbott acted quickly to support Texas restaurants and bars by allowing cocktails to-go via executive order during the pandemic,” said Kristi Brown, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States senior director of state government relations, in a statement. “Cocktails to-go provided a much-needed lifeline for struggling hospitality businesses and prevented the permanent closure of many. Now that this measure is permanent, hospitality businesses will have increased stability as they begin the long path to recovery. We applaud the Texas Legislature and Gov. Abbott for supporting local businesses and for providing increased convenience to consumers.”
4. DoorDash launches new grant program for women-owned restaurants in Los Angeles
Re:Her, a new non-profit, has launched a COVID-relief grant program sponsored by DoorDash to help female-owned restaurants in Los Angeles. Fifteen cash grants of $10,000 will be awarded to female-identifying entrepreneurs to help bolster their business as they see fit.
“The initiatives DoorDash has implemented over the last year to support women-owned businesses align with the RE:Her mission, and the partnership we have formed will bolster the RE:Her community beyond just grants — including marketing and educational resources for members,” says RE:Her founding member Heather Sperling. “Third-party delivery can be both a lifeline and a challenge for restaurants, but we are excited to partner with one of the key players in this space to funnel resources back into businesses as they rebuild in the coming months.”
Grantees will also receive access to consulting and mentorship from specialists in restaurant finance (Elissa Phillips of Mise En Place Restaurant Services), human resources (Delmy Franco of HR Specialists Group) and public relations/marketing (Joy Limanon of Peridot Consulting).
A committee of hospitality and business experts will select the grantees, including Mendocino Farms founder Ellen Chen, former Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, Los Angeles Times food writer Jenn Harris, The Hundreds founders Ben & Bobby Hundreds, restaurant accountant Barbara Barschak, restaurateur Roy Choi, consultant and media personality Monti Carlo, trademark attorney Elizabeth Sbardaletti, Jessica Kaczmerek of the James Irvine Foundation, and Kristin Aldana-Taday of the Hilton Foundation.
The non-profit is a result of an event in January called 10 Days RE:Her that led to a platform for the advancement and empowerment of female-identifying restaurateurs with opportunities and resources, both financial and educational.
“Over the last four months, RE:Her has grown into a platform for connection for 250+ women to share resources, information, and support, and we want to continue to champion and empower our community with these grants,” says Lien Ta, a RE:Her Founding Member. “The grant program has been a core element of our organization from day one, and we are excited to roll this out to give our members a leg-up as they rebound from the most challenging time in the history of our industry.”
Applications will be accepted from May 17-23 here and recipients will be announced on June 14.
5. Stone Barn launches second year of chef-in-residence program; names Rick Parnell as its new executive director
The second group of the chefs-in-residence at Stone Barn program was announced last week along with the appointment of a new executive director, Rick Parnell.
From May through September, Stone Barn will host five different chefs for a three-week series. Each of the chefs must explore the intersection of farming and cooking in their menus but through the lens of their own cuisine.
“The question that inspired Season Two,” said Chef Dan Barber, co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, “is ‘What do Americans eat when they eat out for dinner?’ It’s a celebration of complex, delicious traditions that comprise the American foodscape, carried out by chefs who are deeply rooted in connections to agriculture and the cuisines they will share.”
The schedule of chefs includes: Bryan Furman, May 12-29; Jorge Vallejo, June 2-26; Jonathan Tam, June 30-July 24; Adrienne Cheatham, July 28–Aug. 21; and Pamela Yung, Aug. 25-Sept. 18. For more information on the chefs, click here.
Barber announced last August that Blue Hill at Stone Barn would effectively close and become a chef-in-residence program for up-and-coming chefs.
Read more: Season Two