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Brooklyn’s Acclaimed Olmsted Goes Tasting Menu Route to Ride Out Another Pandemic Winter

Plus, a second Starbucks store in New York unionizes — and more intel

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Inside the dining room at Olmsted, a well-lit dining room outfitted with dark wood tables and chairs set for service.
Inside Olmsted.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Olmsted, the critically acclaimed neighborhood hangout in Prospect Heights run by chef Greg Baxtrom, is pausing its normal a la carte menu in favor of a set tasting menu format to get through the winter. Baxtrom announced on Instagram that the change would go into effect starting January 17 and would last for the “next couple months.”

No word yet on what exactly Olmsted’s tasting menu will entail, but Baxtrom — whose resume includes time spent at fine dining haunts like three-Michelin-starred tasting menu restaurant Per Se — says that the team will be pulling from recipes and techniques that the chef gathered in past fine dining kitchens. While the price of the menu will change, it will generally be designed to cost the same as dining at Olmsted in its current iteration.

Restaurants have been battling a neverending stream of obstacles throughout the pandemic, from staffing shortages to supply chain snarls. Over the past two years, Olmsted — like many of its peers — has twisted and turned to survive during the pandemic, including launching a grocery store, and morphing its backyard into an outdoor dining destination in the summer and winter last year.

Olmsted isn’t the only one turning to tasting menus to survive

A grassroots effort is taking shape to save owner and chef Alfonso Zhicay’s award-winning Casa del Chef Bistro in Woodside, Queens, from closing. To navigate ongoing staff shortages and supply chain disruptions, Zhicay has eliminated his a la carte menu, and on Wednesday, is debuting a new, flexible tasting menu-only approach based on ingredient availability.

To support the struggling spot, Drew Kerr, founder of the photography-based Queens Chef Project, is helping Zhicay create gift cards, and is calling for diners to join them for dinner at the restaurant this Wednesday at 7 p.m. The tasting menu — a choice of $49 for three courses and $69 for six courses — includes steamed fluke with horseradish ragu and fried parsnips, short ribs braised in tamarind and red wine for twelve hours, and plenty of vegan and vegetarian substitutes. — Caroline Shin, Eater New York contributor

A second Starbucks shop in New York unionizes

In December, a Buffalo Starbucks shop voted to become the first unionized Starbucks store in the country following months of contentious negotiations. Now, another Buffalo-area shop has followed in its footsteps and voted to unionize, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. The unionization efforts in upstate New York has sparked interest elsewhere within the chain’s network of stores. Starbucks workers in Boston and Mesa, Arizona, have been starting their own union pushes in the wake of the New York shops’ success.

Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer’s investment arm scoops up millions

Enlightened Hospitality Investments, the investment firm associated with bold-faced NYC restaurateur Danny Meyer, has raised an extra $332 million to pour into growing restaurant chains and tech companies, Crain’s New York reports. The firm recently led a $27.5 million round of funding in taco and burrito chain Tacombi, and has also backed other businesses including fast casual chain Dig and reservations company Resy.

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