Crowd-sourced resources, essential businesses, and taking action

Plus: what's your quarantine project?

Friday was Saarim’s birthday and he wanted to pick up some of his favorite Bengali foods for lunch: fuchka, jhal muri, and chotpoti. We drove over to Kensington, a neighborhood in central Brooklyn that’s home to a stretch of Bangladeshi restaurants and shops on Church Avenue. While we were there we grabbed some pantry items at a local grocer: mustard oil, dried desi chickpeas, and biryani mix. In accordance with the latest restrictions, the dine-in section of Kabir’s Bakery was closed off. As we watched the kind lady behind the counter prepare our lunch, she told us that it was the last day Kabir’s and most of the other businesses on the block would be open. It’s the same somber story we keep hearing, but I was glad we were able to support them on their final day. The jhal muri (a salad made of puffed rice, crispy snacks, and an assortment of vegetables and spices) included black chickpeas, fresh tomato, and achar. Saarim said it was the best jhal muri he’s had in America.

For Starters

The below pie chart from ROAR is striking.

Read this op-ed from the NYTimes Editorial Board on How to Avoid Complete Economic Destruction:

The purpose of saving businesses is both to preserve the productive capacity of the economy and the welfare of workers. If all the nation’s restaurants were to disappear, new restaurants eventually would emerge in many of the same spaces. But there is no reason to incur the incalculable cost of destroying the old businesses and creating new ones. Far better to maintain, as much as possible, the fabric of the economy as it existed before the crisis.

In her newsletter yesterday morning, Eater EIC Amanda Kludt focuses on the “stories of generosity and ingenuity” from the devasting last week. My personal favorite is how artisanal distilleries are making their own hand sanitizer due to the shortage and distributing it charitably. In New York City, that includes Greenhook Ginsmiths, St. Agrestis, New York Distilling Company, and Kings County Distillery.

restaurant critic Bill Addison beautifully captures the tension, anxiety, and sadness so many of us are currently faced with in wanting to support restaurants while also trying to stay safe—and not knowing what comes next.

Friday’s Grub Street Diet was a sobering one from chef Douglas Kim of Jeju Noodle Bar. I’m looking forward to reading my favorite column as it starts to chronicle diets in isolation.

Crowd-Sourced Resources


Reader Philip Thomas was inspired to build Cellars.NYC, a crowd-sourced map of all of the restaurant wine sales taking place around the city. Use it to find a killer cellar to raid and add any spots that are missing! He’s also working on expanding it to other cities including Los Angeles & Copenhagen. I’m excited to watch this grow.

Another cool thing happening in the wine world: winemakers conducting virtual tastings. (h/t John for sharing)

Seeing as we Californians are strongly encouraged to stay the hell home, Sara and I thought it might be nice to bring the tasting room to you! We’ve got four new wines available for the spring and don’t we all need a bit of CA sunshine to brighten up our homes right now?! (Link to purchase in bio) 🌈
March 20, 2020

Support [CITY] Online

Danny Owens, a creative producer at Squarespace, created a community-aggregated website for supporting small businesses in your city online. Bonus points for the sleek social shareables, making it easy for us to spread the love. New Yorkers can utilize the resource and make additions (add your local spots!) here. It’s also being set up for the below cities—if yours isn’t one of them, you can raise your hand to start the chapter. (My friend Meredith is currently setting up ATL :))

City by city ❤️ We’re on a mission to support the small businesses that make up our neighborhoods—big and small, east and west, and everywhere in between. Let’s show love to our favorite spots, all the way across the country.
_Head to to find the city close to your heart.
_Want to start your own chapter? Shoot us a DM and we’ll get you set up!
March 21, 2020

Essential Businesses

Restaurant & Grocery Delivery

As Peter Shelsky (of Shelsky’s - where you can call ahead for grab & go bagels and appetizing items) puts it, “the delivery folks who bring us food amid this crisis are on the front lines. Be kind. Compensate them. Tip the living fuck out of them. But do so safely.”

PSA. The delivery folks who bring us food amid this crisis are on the front lines. Be kind. Compensate them. Tip the living fuck out of them. But do so safely. #tipwell
March 20, 2020

Here’s an insightful thread from a part-time delivery worker. Click through for the full list of best practices during this time.

Out west in Portland, Jordan Hughes is offering pro-bono photoshoots for restaurants and bars to help market their delivery and take-out options.

Honestly pretty heart-broken from the events over the last few days, with bars and restaurants all over the country shutting down. So many of my good friends, as well as clients, are hurting and/or jobless. It’s hard to know how to “show up” and help people, when apparently the best thing we can do right now is keep our distance from each other. This is hard.
It’s not much, but for the Portland spots that are trying to pivot hard to start offering take-out or delivery options, I’d love to do food photos for you to help market your menu (pro bono). Fellow PDX photographers @amaroeats, @aubrie.legault and @chewandtaste are offering to do the same. We can get through this together 🙌🏽
March 19, 2020

Farmers Markets & Specialty Shops

…are considered essential businesses. If you need groceries and are well enough to go out to get them, consider supporting your local farmers and specialty shops. A friend told me there were minimal lines at both Bangkok Center Grocery and Raffetto’s, and now he’s got primo ingredients for cooking Thai and Italian meals. It’s a win-win to think small when you’re shopping; support independent business and end up with top-quality goods.

**Curbside Pickup** In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we’re launching a curbside pickup service! Rebecca is waiting to pick & pack your pantry staples, fresh produce, and bottles of wine. Details below.
Order from Atlantic Ave:
- Email:
- Phone: 718-624-4550
- Pickup location: 187 Atlantic Ave

Order from Industry City:
- Email:
- Phone: 718-788-7500
- Pickup location: 52 35th St., btwn 2nd and 3rd aves (see photo!)
March 20, 2020

Take Action

New organizations and funds keep piling up, but I’ll continue to highlight meaningful additions. Sean, an SMC reader, put this doc together of Trade/Hospitality Support Organizations, which covers both national and local efforts. It’s open for anyone to add to.

The James Beard Foundation Relief Fund

From their website: To help bring swift economic relief to these essential businesses, the Foundation is launching a fund that will be gathering support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need.

Rethink Food NYC

Rethink Food is recovering excess food to provide no or low-cost meals to families in need, and hiring temporary team members to support their efforts.

One Fair Wage

This non-profit, led by advocates for restaurant workers, has set up an emergency coronavirus fund for tipped and service workers.

New York Hospitality Coalition

Greg Baxtrom and Max Katzenberg of Olmsted and Maison Yaki founded the NY Hospitality Coalition, a grassroots organization that lobbies for government action on behalf of the 250,000 restaurant workers and businesses. Read an interview with the duo on Zagat Stories, and follow the org on Instagram & Twitter.

Hot Bread Kitchen

Some of you know that I’m on the Junior Board of Hot Bread Kitchen, an incredible nonprofit based in NYC that creates economic opportunity through careers in food. They run a workforce training program that places low-income, immigrant women into managerial-track culinary jobs across the city and also operate an incubator for small food businesses. Here’s what Hot Bread Kitchen is asking & doing during this difficult time:

  1. Launched an Emergency Relief Fund, which will provide immediate support to their community women and small business owners in the food industry. Donate here.

  2. Offering their new 11,000 sq-ft Brooklyn HQ to relief organizations looking for kitchen space. Email Erin at

If you’re interested in reading more about what Hot Bread Kitchen has heard from their community this week, follow them @hotbreadkitchen and read their update here.

Quarantine Projects

Call me a cliché, but I’m taking this opportunity to start baking sourdough. I’m kicking the project off with a starter from Upside Pizza, courtesy of my friend and the operator, Noam. What’s everyone else taking up during quarantine? I’d love to hear from you. 👊

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