Editor’s Note: In September we announced that Skift was expanding into food and drink with the addition of the Chefs+Tech weekly newsletter.

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We see this as a natural expansion of the Skift umbrella, bringing the big picture view on the future of dining out, being fanatically focused on the guest experience, and at the intersection of marketing and tech.

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Anita Lo Dishes On Being an NYC Restaurateur Today (And Why She’s Closing)

For those of you who’ve wandered the West Village in search of a perfectly New York, just-so meal that reminds us all of why going out for dinner in the city that never sleeps is one of your top things to do, this is an important read. Anita Lo, Executive Chef and Owner of Annisa, is closing her restaurant, despite the years of accolades (three stars from Pete Wells) and beloved clientele (Ruth Reichl), citing the NY restaurant landscape and cost of survival as the reason for shuddering. “It’s depressing to me, actually,” she told Grub Street’s Sierra Tishgart. “I think what’s great about the city—and I think it’s echoing what’s going on in this damn country—is the diversity of this place. Is it just going to be corporations? And there are some good corporations, like Danny Meyer’s. But who can afford to be here? Is everything going to be fast-casual? I don’t want to eat that way all the time.” Neither do we. While it’s too late in the game for Annisa, it’s we all get out there and support. While rising minimum wage is a good thing and smart casual is bringing higher quality food to larger audiences, we hate to see this happen.

Amazon Is Staffing Stores with Robots

Got a staffing issue? Get robots! Amazon plans a two-story, automated grocery store staffed primarily by R2D2 and friends, in “a model that would inimize human staffers to just three associates per floor and eliminate cashier responsibilities (translating to operating profit margins in excess of 20%)”, reports The New York Post. While that job has certainly seemed like a slog—nothin’ like stacking toilet paper that just won’t stack—it’s part of a larger trend away from minimum wage work overall. Between rising minimum wage in restaurants and replacement of low level labor by machines, we’re poised to see major shifts in the food labor business over the course of the year, with Bezos and buds out in front of the charge. So, what happens when you really need gojuchang but they only have thai curry paste and you seek expertise regarding the difference? No, no I do not want Sriracha… GO-JU-CHANG… let’s just hope they’ve hardwired that into the robocode.

SevenRooms Launches to Solve Restaurant Pain Points

We know, we know, broken record about the landscape in NY restaurants today, but here’s a guy takin’ the bufala by the horns and makin’ mozzarella. Founder Joel Montaniel has raised a cool $6.3 million to begin to tackle the hospitality solutions space, joining the ranks of OpenTable, Reserve, Resy, on and on, with his company, SevenRooms. Okay, yes, 50 employees and a roster of big names on the customer list already (Scarpetta, Tao, Fowler + Wells in the Beekman), but it remains to be seen exactly how he’ll differentiate from the above competition. Understanding the restaurant business and the innerworkings of the FOH / BOX dynamic is one technology has long taken as a challenge. So what’s the new approach? Do tell.

It’s Not Just for Munchies Anymore

Whether you’re an addicted Vice watcher or more of a Cook’s Illustrated armchair reader, weed is popping up all over food media. To be expected, given California and Massachuetts’ November legalization, but we’re seeing everything from recipes for THGhee to a Chef’s guide to finding a hook up (marijuana that is) to weed cocktails with Gracias Madre in LA on Eater. It’s high time. Stay out of the weeds. The puns are endless and we are NOT above it. A watched pot never boils. Sorry, sorry…

Digestivi

Photo Credit: An Amazon robot in a warehouse. As the online provider moves into brick and mortar outlets, it's bringing robots, too. Amazon