Appetizers 8/12: New Documentary Shows What It Takes to Run a Restaurant During Coronavirus

Pork belly buns from The Peached Tortilla | Photo Credit: Peached Torilla/Inked Fingers

Welcome to Appetizers, OpenTable’s weekly column that aims to uplift and motivate with a weekly roundup of the most inspiring food-world news of the week. Start your weekend with the things that are making us laugh, cry, think, and just plain hungry for more.

Making Us … Rapt

A new documentary featuring Austin restaurants is showing the difficulties of reopening and operating for restaurants during this time. The under-10-minute episodes spotlight a different restaurant each episode, including live-fire hit Hestia and Southern-Asian gem Peached Tortilla. In one episode — in full below — Peached Tortilla owner Eric Silverstein says, “There’s a difference in viewpoint among everyone as to whether dining rooms should be open or not, but I think unless you’re standing in the shoes of a business owner who has got certain bills to pay, I’m not sure you’d fully understand why they’re making the decisions that they are. It’s weighing on me all the time.” Reopen is a fascinating and heartbreaking glimpse at the hardships facing restaurants right now.

Making Us … Excited

None other than pop star extraordinaire Selena Gomez has partnered with 10 chefs for a new television series where she humorously attempts to learn how to cook from experts over video. Watch chefs such as Nancy Silverton and Daniel Holzman coax Selena through the very same journey into the kitchen many have been forced to take during quarantine. Selena + Chef starts streaming on HBO Max on Thursday, August 13.

Making Us … Sad

While many restaurants have managed to pivot operations to stay open during the pandemic, others have sadly not been able to make it through. It’s always hard when a restaurant must close, but even more so now in a time when it’s from forces outside the restaurant’s control. Some that hit particularly hard include Baco Mercat, Here’s Looking at You, Broken Spanish, Bon Temps, and Patina in Los Angeles; K-Paul’s in New Orleans; Porsena, Oda House, and Augustine in New York City; Brave Horse Tavern in Seattle; Ortanique on the Mile in Miami; Mity Nice Bar & Grill in Chicago; Sage in Las Vegas; and PRAIRIE in San Francisco. These longtime favorites, newer hits, traditional icons, and neighborhood gems will be sorely missed.

Making Us … Hopeful

Industry leaders such as David Chang and Tom Colicchio have banded together in support of a restaurant reopening plan for New York City that advocates for a number of economic measures. “Safe and Just Reopening” is in partnership with nonprofit organization One Fair Wage, and it proposes getting rid of the tipped minimum wage, a lower hourly rate for service employees, and sharing tips between all workers, including cooks. The plan also asks for payroll tax relief and the ability to add a 5 percent “safe reopening” surcharge to checks. Measures like these have long been thought of as necessary to keep the restaurant industry sustainable, and more so now when restaurants need dire financial help. More than 50 NYC restaurant owners and 200 restaurant workers have signed onto the plan.

Making Us … Laugh

Previous Appetizers

July 24: Chefs Adjust Menus for Eating Outdoors

July 10: Restaurants Take to the Streets

June 25: How Restaurants Are Celebrating Pride This Year

June 19: Restaurants Get Creative With Reopening

June 12: Chefs Band Together for Black Lives Matter Bake Sale

June 8: Restaurants Rally Around the Black Community

May 29: California Restaurant Injects Whimsy Into Reopening

May 22: Ayesha Curry Launches a Lifestyle Magazine

May 15: Top Chefs Do Good