Today’s edition of News Bites, again for the eighth week in a row, will cover what’s relevant to Dallas dining right now.
Last Friday, May 1, Texas restaurants reopened at 25 percent capacity. From the outset of Abbott’s order, there was confusion. Did that percentage include outdoor spaces? Who’s enforcing these guidelines—restaurants, its staff? In yesterday’s press conference, Abbott clarified that 25 percent capacity did not apply to outdoor spaces like restaurant patios, so long as six feet distance can be maintain between tables and parties remain as six or fewer people.
As for enforcement, Mayor Eric Johnson has preached personal responsibility. And the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission told SideDish it “will be educating and assisting any permit holders that might not understand these new provisions.”
Our dining critic Eve Hill-Agnus ventured out last weekend and witnessed busy patios and a public disinterested in wearing masks—which, no, they aren’t required. (Photographer Bret Redman also documented the scene.)
As for what else is going on this week: award snubs, protein problems, and the seeds of a new nonprofit.
Where’s the Beef?
You may have already noticed that meat prices have crept up while variety of cuts have gone down. In North Texas, reports Dallas Morning News, there doesn’t appear to be any major shortages, but grocers like Kroger, Costco, and Tom Thumb are limiting purchases to curb big decreases in availability. And to be clear, there isn’t a lack of protein per se, but rather facilities to process meat is a main concern. Coronavirus outbreaks have surged at meatpacking plants in the Amarillo area, reports The Texas Tribune. Meat processing facilities across the country are COVID-19 hot spots. The Texas Restaurant Association has advised its restaurant members to consult their suppliers so they have stock.
Dallas Left Out of the Latest James Beard Award Nominees
The food foundation announced its 2020 chef and restaurant finalists on May 4, the date the award ceremony gala would’ve originally happened in Chicago. That ceremony has become a virtual one: Winners will be announced on September 25, from Chicago, broadcast live via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed. Despite the James Beard Foundation redistricting the regional chef category and creating, for the first time, Texas as its own category, Dallas again got no love. A big snub. Misti Norris of Petra and the Beast. Regino Rojas of Revolver Taco Lounge and Purepecha. Other Dallas honorables. Let’s hope the JBA wises up next year.
Project La Familia Wants to Help Food Industry Workers Cope
Veteran pastry chef Diana Zamora’s recently founded Project La Familia to provide one-pot meals—fideos and caldos, Latino comfort food—and healthy snacks for kids and their families. Zamora wants to help fill the gap created by the DISD’s steep reduction of free meals for school children. Project La Familia has received donations from Promise of Peace urban gardens, Front Burner restaurant group, Profound Foods, and is collaborating with the nonprofit Harvest Project Food Rescue. Staffed by unemployed or furloughed service industry worker-volunteers, the nonprofit is working out of the Meddlesome Moth kitchen. A related project, Hijas de Julia, will help fund Project La Familia. It, too, will be operating out of the Meddlesome Moth kitchen, launching with a Mother’s Day to-go brunch menu that includes quiches, empanadas, biscuits and scones, sweets and sauces that reflect Zamora’s pastry skills and both comfort-food and Latin American leanings.
Don’t Miss This on SideDish
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In their own words, food industry workers tell us what it’s like to wrestle with unemployment, food insecurity, irresponsible diners, and mental health.
If any silver lining exists about this coronavirus pandemic, perhaps it’s the nostalgic lost art of the drive-thru.