A few months back, during a weekly Zoom call, one of our editors asked, “When can we start covering restaurants again?” Of course, for the last seven issues, we’ve been digging into and telling the industry’s stories of constant pandemic pivots and their financial and psychological fallout. But the intention behind that question was that we need to look at restaurants and bars as they stand today—not in crisis, not on the brink of closure, not as a failing industry. The truth is, COVID isn’t going away (at least not anytime soon), but happily, restaurants aren’t either.
That conversation formed the backbone of our January/February issue. And while we didn’t set out to create a collection of stories that specifically addressed the evolution of the industry, as the reporting and writing took shape, that’s where we landed. And it feels good. Of course, throughout these pages there are still references to shutdowns and virus variants and other pandemic-specific lingo, but that’s because the pandemic has become something we have to live with.
And so, as we look ahead, we explore what it takes to invigorate a dining scene (“Forward Motion”) and how to stoke culinary creativity (“Chef’s Playground”). We also asked local operators to speak about changing hiring practices (“The Reframing”) because of—say it all together, now—labor shortages. The jewel of this issue is “Dive or Die”, which looks at the slow death of dive bars. In its truest sense, this piece is about a breed of bars that fills an important niche and, in many cases, captures the history and soul of a city.
This issue is our way of declaring that the show must go on.
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