Chef Daniel Boulud has joined the ranks of restaurateurs focusing on delivery and pickup in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. On May 27, the French chef launched Daniel Boulud Kitchen (DBK), offering contemporary French cuisine prepared in the kitchen of Daniel, Boulud’s Wine Spectator Grand Award winner on New York’s Upper East Side.
“It really began as a response to the coronavirus crisis,” Michael Lawrence, executive director of operations for Boulud’s Dinex Group, told Wine Spectator via email. “It’s something that we never thought about for Daniel.”
With both prix-fixe and à-la-carte options, DBK’s “Boulud Chez Vous” menu is set to change weekly, with Daniel’s influence very much in play. “The fact is, we can’t replicate a Daniel dish in a to-go box,” Lawrence said. “So the recipes are inspired by Daniel dishes that have been made to travel well.” So far, this has included Provençale lobster salad, cucumber vichyssoise and poulet Basquaise. Additional, épicerie-focused options like ossetra caviar and pâté en croute are also available, and specialized versions of DBK’s menu have been planned with themes like “Sunday en Provence.” “We are using the same products from our suppliers that we’ve been using in the restaurant,” Lawrence said. “This allows us to keep things fresh and very seasonal.”
Patrons won’t have to eat without wine pairings, of course. The program offers more than a dozen labels from Daniel’s French-focused cellar, including Champagne, Provence rosé, Burgundy and Boulud’s private label Santa Barbara Chardonnay from Au Bon Climat. “The idea was to choose a selection of wines from the cellar to pair with the dishes,” said Daniel Johnnes, Dinex Group’s wine director. “We wanted to offer tremendous value from superb producers and a range of styles.” Johnnes indicated that his team will be able to change the wine list with the weekly menus, keeping lists “focused and interesting,” though additional options may be possible. “There are no plans to sell the entire cellar, but we can always take requests if someone is looking for an additional choice,” he said.
Five percent of the program’s sales are being donated to Boulud’s non-profit Hand in Hand, an effort the chef started to assist employees who lost their jobs during the pandemic crisis. DBK will also help Boulud bring back more of his staff, in addition to those reemployed for the Food1st foundation, a non-profit the chef started with SL Green CEO Marc Holliday. For now, DBK is only available in New York City, but will be moving to the Hamptons and Greenwich, Conn., as well, on June 19.
“We are in the hospitality business and our whole goal is to make people happy,” said Lawrence. “Since they can’t come to us, we can come to them. We are indulging and pampering our guests from afar.”—Collin Dreizen
Best of Award of Excellence winner Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck in Dallas announced last month that its temporary closure is now permanent. A company statement confirmed the closure is tied to challenges from the coronavirus pandemic. Housed in the landmark Reunion Tower, Five Sixty was an upscale venue starring chef Jacob Williamson’s sushi and Asian cuisine.
“While many of our guests discovered us because of the view, they enjoyed our hospitality and the great dining experience,” said Pamela Brunson, chief creative officer of Wolfgang Puck Catering. “Our style of Asian-inspired cooking was something really different when we started.”
Managed by general manager Ian Kostrzewski, the wine list boasted over 500 selections that focused on Californian and French wines. Other Restaurant Award-winning establishments by Puck, such as Chinois on Main and Spago, continue to offer pickup and delivery.—Taylor McBride
Following Minnesota’s mandated shutdowns in March, Pazzaluna Urban Italian in downtown St. Paul closed at the end of May. The Award of Excellence winner had been in business for 21 years.
“COVID-19 played a large part in the decision,” Elizabeth Morrissey Brown, Morrissey Hospitality’s owner, told Wine Spectator via email. “Pazzaluna was highly dependent on tourism, event traffic in downtown St. Paul and business travelers.” Without the definite return of these patrons, Morrissey Hospitality’s management team didn’t think it would be feasible to run Pazzaluna at its anticipated costs, a concern with which many restaurants are grappling.
Morrissey Brown was also forced to consider the loss of the restaurant’s character. “With the unpredictable nature of the virus and how to keep both our staff and employees safe, we could not imagine opening Pazzaluna without being able to be Pazzaluna,” she said. “[Pazzaluna] was built to gather around the table, to celebrate and to indulge in authentic Italian cuisine and delicious wine and cocktails with friends, family and coworkers.”
Pazzaluna’s menu had most recently been overseen by executive chef John Kain, and its wine list by Morrissey Brown and corporate beverage director Justin Spano. While some wines from Pazzaluna’s cellar will be divided among Morrissey Hospitality’s nine restaurants, the rest of the bottles will remain in storage for the time being. As Morrissey Brown says, “the good thing about good wine is that it can age!”
Morrissey Hospitality will retain the restaurant’s former space and is contemplating a new project. "Our family has deep-rooted memories within those four walls, and I know many guests and employees do as well,” she said. “That is the magic of hospitality, and the heart of Pazzaluna.”—C.D.
Landry’s Inc. has closed five of its more than 70 Restaurant Award winning locations of Morton’s, the Steakhouse, in New Orleans; Denver; Richmond, Va.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Indianapolis. A statement from Landry’s noted that the space’s leases were terminated after dine-in services were shut down in those cities due to COVID-19.
Morton’s, the Steakhouse locations across the country shifted to takeout and delivery service during the pandemic, including wine and meal kits. Some locations have since reopened for dine-in service, such as the Award of Excellence–winning locations in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Anaheim, Calif.—T.M.
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