Inside A Slice of New York’s path to employee ownership.

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Luis Bravo puts cheese on a pizza at A Slice of New York in Sunnyvale, a worker-owned cooperative. (Photo by Olivia Treynor)

Last fall, when restaurants were working desperately to keep their doors open amid coronavirus restrictions, A Slice of New York pizza shops in Sunnyvale and San Jose voluntarily closed for an entire week to give employees a paid, mandatory break.

The decision came after one brutal Friday night shift — following six months of brutal shifts — during which co-owner Kirk Vartan watched employees physically and emotionally break down around him. The next day, he called a board meeting.

A Slice of New York is a worker cooperative, meaning the closure had to be approved by the employee-run board. Shutting down for a week would cost upwards of $25,000, not counting lost revenue, but would give the staff paid time off to rest and recharge. …


New Haven-style pizza, tonkatsu curry, Korean fried chicken and more … Looking back on a fraught, but hopeful, year in dining on the Peninsula.

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Superb Vietnamese fare from Hết Sẩy in San Jose: Hủ tiếu Gò Công, Mekong-style noodle soup, left, and cơm tấm lá dứa, or pandan broken rice with a charcoal-grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin, fried egg and pickled garlic leeks. (Photo by Michelle Le)

It’s hard to feel anything except deep despair about this year in the local food industry. Beloved restaurants closed after decades of business, and the pandemic put so many waiters, cooks and dishwashers out of work. Other owners decided to go into hibernation to hopefully preserve their businesses, though they have yet to reemerge.

Looking back at the food I ate (one too many in my car) and the stories I wrote, the last 12 months reminded me that it was also a year of resiliency, hope and truly outstanding food made in the face of immense obstacles. Restaurants pivoted to meal kits and to-go cocktails and transformed into retail operations to stay alive. They cooked thousands of meals for health care workers, frontline responders and people in need. New eateries defied the odds to open, and pop-ups that could share kitchen space with struggling restaurants thrived. Numerous Bay Area regions, including San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, helped bring attention to the prohibitively costly delivery fees third-party apps charge restaurants by imposing caps on those fees. …


Community raises over $25K for family in the wake of tragic surfing accident

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Haruwn Wesley at his pie shop in Pacifica. (Image via Shampa’s Pies Instagram)

Haruwn Wesley, the owner of Shampa’s Pies in Pacifica, died on Dec. 20 following a surfing accident at Fort Point in San Francisco.

Wesley was known as an expert pie baker and generous spirit who often rescued people caught in riptides in the ocean and gave pies for free to people who couldn’t afford to pay for them. He once saved a man whose life vest malfunctioned after the sailboat he was in capsized under the Golden Gate Bridge, for which Wesley received a Congressional Honor from the U.S. House of Representatives and was recognized by the American Red Cross, according to a GoFundMe page established in support of his family. …


‘At death’s door’: Backlash to outdoor dining ban mounts among frustrated restaurant owners.

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A restaurant parklet in downtown Los Gatos, emptied following the temporary ban on outdoor dining in Santa Clara County. (Photo by Elena Kadvany)

On Saturday, Dec. 5, the morning after the news broke that outdoor dining would be coming to an end in Santa Clara County in just two days (rather than in the expected weeks), a group of Los Gatos restaurant owners gathered in both frustration and strategy.

They talked about staying open in defiance of the new stay-at-home order and other forms of protest. Should they hire a lawyer and follow the lead of Southern California restaurants that have fought an outdoor dining ban with legal action? Should they stop paying sales taxes? What if they shut down en masse for a week, driving the point home about the devastation of the local restaurant industry? …


From local CSA boxes to your very own cannoli kit, give the gift of great grub.

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El Merkat at Telefèric Barcelona’s basic paella kit serves two people and contains paella seasoning, sofrito mix, Bomba rice, Spanish olive oil and a paella recipe. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)

This holiday season, it’s more essential than ever to take the shop local ethos seriously. Local restaurants and businesses are looking down the barrel of a tough month — after eight already incredibly tough months — with the state’s new stay-at-home order temporarily banning outdoor dining and requiring residents to stay at home as much as possible.

Here are 20 ideas for locally made food-and-drink gifts, from handmade pasta and Filipino sweets to virtual cooking classes and a cocktail book authored by a local beverage director, proceeds of which will be donated to bar staff impacted by the shutdown. …


Nine local spots that will do the holiday cooking for you.

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A Hanukkah feast from Wise Sons Delicatessen, whose holiday fare will be available for contactless pickup at pop-up locations on the Peninsula. (Photo courtesy Wise Sons Delicatessen)

If you haven’t already made your food plans for Hanukkah — which begins at sundown on Thursday, Dec. 10, and ends on Friday, Dec. 18 — we’re here to help. Here are nine local businesses making latkes, babka, brisket and other fare for pickup and delivery.


Get the hottest of the hot at Love Burn Chicken in South San Francisco.

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“It is the hottest chicken sandwich… a bold statement that we’re really confident [to stand] behind.” (Image via Yelp)

Jason Angeles boldly claims Love Burn Chicken makes the spiciest, largest and crispiest hot chicken sandwich out there.

The new restaurant, opened two weeks ago inside a South San Francisco bowling alley, is inspired by the hot chicken trend made famous by Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville. Hot chicken has taken flight in the Bay Area in recent years with the openings of Hotbird and The Bird in San Francisco, World Famous Hot Boys in Oakland and Winner Winner Chicken in San Mateo. Angeles opened Love Burn Chicken with the same team behind SSF Chicken Box in South San Francisco — Christian Perez, Dexter Lee, Justin Isip and Ronnie Taylor. It’s located at Hometown Bowl (130 Northwood St.) …


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Guests attending a fundraising wine tasting event in November at Kings Mountain Vineyards in Woodside sit at distanced tables. (Photo by Federica Armstrong)

Zoom tastings, DoorDash delivery and vineyard yoga are all on the table as local wineries navigate a year of Covid and wildfires

Testarossa Winery started 2020 on a high. The Los Gatos winery saw its highest sales to date the year prior. It won winery of the year from Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine. The owners were excitedly planning the largest renovation to the winery in 70 years, and even hoping to open a sparkling new 10,000-square-foot private event space on March 1.

We all know what happened next: the arrival of the coronavirus and mid-March shutdown that upended virtually every aspect of our lives, including how we drink and buy wine. Testarossa not only saw private events and weddings canceled overnight but had to refund hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits. They had to shut down their popular tasting room. Profits plummeted by 80%. …


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Camper in Menlo Park is offering a to-go Thanksgiving spread, including sides, stuffing, fresh bread and desserts. (Image courtesy of Camper)

Where to get smoked turkey, a prime rib feast, Meyer lemon pie and more for a socially-distanced Thanksgiving…

We all know this Thanksgiving isn’t going to feel normal. Many of us are staying home and scaling down instead of spending much-needed time with extended family and friends.

Consider taking the glass-half-full approach this year and seizing the opportunity to create the Thanksgiving you’ve always wanted — no pressure to perform for relatives or politely eat your mother-in-law’s mediocre mashed potatoes. If you want to order dim sum and have three kinds of pie for dessert, you can! (Wait, this sounds great.) Or maybe you only have the mental and physical energy to make a few side dishes and you want to outsource the turkey and dessert. …


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Camper in Menlo Park is offering a to-go Thanksgiving spread, including sides, stuffing, fresh bread and desserts. (Image courtesy of Camper)

Where to get smoked turkey, a prime rib feast, Meyer lemon pie and more for a socially-distanced Thanksgiving.

We all know this Thanksgiving isn’t going to feel normal. Many of us are staying home and scaling down instead of spending much-needed time with extended family and friends.

Consider taking the glass-half-full approach this year and seizing the opportunity to create the Thanksgiving you’ve always wanted — no pressure to perform for relatives or politely eat your mother-in-law’s mediocre mashed potatoes. If you want to order dim sum and have three kinds of pie for dessert, you can! (Wait, this sounds great.) Or maybe you only have the mental and physical energy to make a few side dishes and you want to outsource the turkey and dessert. …

About

Elena Kadvany

Peninsula native, journalist and avid eater.

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