Due to the pandemic affecting every aspect of society, the usual food news is indefinitely on hold. So this week’s edition of News Bites, again for the fourth in a row, will cover what’s relevant to Dallas dining right now.
This week marks my third month anniversary at my new gig here at D Magazine. It has been, I can resolutely say, a wild ride so far. With a new job in a new city, there are many work-life grooves to find. And I was finding mine. When the reality of the coronavirus spreading in Dallas earnestly began last month, everyone at the office sanitized their desks, packed things up, and prepared to work at home for the foreseeable future. Grooves, interrupted.
As news trickled, then firehose-d, into our feeds, we all were watching closely. Every surface was suspect. Every reported coronavirus case granted an anxious breath. Meanwhile, I had my eye turned toward home: Seattle, Washington, where the virus was the then-epicenter of infection in the U.S.
Health-wise, my family was okay, as were my friends. But in that same moment I saw the restaurants I loved had to close, offer takeout only, turn into makeshift markets, then in some cases cease takeout or shutter altogether. I also witnessed from a distance a community come together. Crowdfunding campaigns launched, ditto free food programs for those in need, and larger calls for action and change for an industry—a clearly large one whose purpose is to nourish and care for us—that knows its value.
And of course that’s not limited to Seattle. In Dallas, we saw the restaurant community quickly rise to the unprecedented occasion. Fundraisers big and small formed to relieve those suddenly without a steady paycheck. Folks started nonprofits to help bring financial aid and food to their fellow service industry brothers and sisters in arms. (And I keep seeing more nonprofits appear weekly!) We also saw large companies like Headington with deeper pockets than most layoff and furlough its employees.
Meanwhile, the team behind Shift Dallas dove into the daunting data of unemployed hospitality workers so we could really understand the gravity of the situation. So we could better help people who lost jobs, including former Headington staff.
And last week we began to perhaps get a sense of what the new normal of Dallas dining might be for awhile. (Hint: a much quieter Deep Ellum, virtual cooking classes, food warrior-volunteers, book tours turned from social gathering to social media, waygu delivered, a lot food programs, food bank aid, more takeout, and hopefully hefty donations.) Whatever support the industry receives now could very determine what it looks like after the covid dust settles.
Headington Companies Puts Remaining Employees on Indefinite Furlough, Plus More Layoffs
Last month, as the restaurant industry buckled from closed dining rooms, we reported about the sweeping layoffs at Headington Companies. Those laid off employees now report that their final paychecks, which were promised to be delivered by “no later than March 25” per the termination letter, arrived much later. In some cases, they arrived after April 1, which made them late on rent payments. And those funds were provided on a debit card rather than a usual paycheck that they could deposit into their bank account.
One employee described getting on the phone with Headington HR and her bank in order to deposit funds without getting hit by a transfer fee. (I reached out to the head of HR for Headington but no one responded before press time.)
In related news, more Headington workers have either been put on indefinite furlough or terminated entirely, according to two letters from HR. One of which states:
“This letter is to inform you that effective beginning March 31, 2020, you will no longer receive 25% furlough pay or other compensation. This change is being made to ensure that furlough pay will not reduce the new state and federal benefits employees are able to receive during the furlough period, including expanded unemployment benefits provided in the CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020.”
Thanks-Giving Foundation Serves Up Gratitude
This week the Thanks-Giving Foundation announced a new initiative, Serving Up Gratitude, to express thanks to healthcare workers and first responders. The new initiative will provide public health workers with nourishment and local restaurants with business. Serving Up Gratitude will purchase and deliver individually packaged meals from local restaurants for front line community members as a sign of support and goodwill. What’s next: raise at least $250,000 to benefit the restaurant industry and provide 25,000 meals to healthcare workers over the next 60 days.
FestEvents Foundation Launches Staff Meal
Not to be confused with the Heard That Foundations Staff Meal food program, Staff Meal is a nonprofit recently hatched by FestEvents Group cofounders Alison Matis and Cheryl Weis, with influential folks like Nick Walker of Virgin Hotels Dallas, chef Sharon Van Meter of SVM Productions, and Steve DeShazo of El Centro College in on the initiative too. The program’s aim: Serve 2,400 free, chef-made meals per weekend to industry members in need. Head to the website to learn how to reserve a meal for April 11 if you’re a hospitality worker. And if you’re not, head to website to donate. $20 pays for ten meals.
Another List to Help You Order Takeout in DFW
While I am partial to the list of takeout options I created, the labor of love that it is, I respect and appreciate anyone doing the same on an even larger scale. That someone is Warren Wu. “COVID-19 has been devastating to our local restaurants and bars who can no longer seat patrons. Many of them are struggling to generate cash flow,” says Wu, who’s helped create Takeout COVID, a site that lists out Dallas restaurants and bars that are offering food, wine, cocktails, or beer for takeout and delivery. He reports that there are over 500 participating places (like 400 Gradi, José, and more). “We’ve talked to a couple restaurants and they’ve told us that their online ordering have seen a small uptick after being listed, and we’re trying to get them even more orders.”
I don’t know about you, but ordering food sounds pretty tasty right about now.
Meanwhile, on D Magazine
Easter is not canceled! Here’s where to order takeout for this holiday weekend.
We could all use a nice, relaxing cup of tea—and we’ve got the tea experts guiding us on how to do it right.
Is it time for banana bread? It’s time for banana bread.
Bingo! A restaurant takeout game for the shelter-in-place era.