I’ll hope to see something like the Grey in Savannah, Ga., where a black chef, Mashama Bailey, reclaimed a bus station where waiting areas were once segregated, or like Bad Saint in Washington, where a team of young Filipino-Americans serves magnetic interpretations of the food they grew up with.
I’d like the path to the top of the restaurant business to be cleared of the obstacles that make it difficult for women and minorities. In March, when I reported on the attractive business deals being given to chefs by New York hotels, I noticed that with the exception of April Bloomfield, very few of those chefs were women. That needs to change.
Most restaurants, though, are funded by loans and private backers. Aby Rosen, one of the owners of the Seagram Building, recently told a reporter for Town & Country how he had raised $32 million for the Pool, the Grill and another restaurant the Major Food Group is building there. He and the restaurateurs solicited investments from “a nice mix of hedge fund guys, fashionistas, rich guys — an interesting group of 100 people who then bring 20 or 30 of their friends, and suddenly you have 2,000 people.”
It’s wonderful that all these interesting guys are willing to help. It would be even more wonderful if having a hand in these high-profile projects gave them an appetite for backing other talented chefs and restaurateurs who don’t have such an easy time getting financing. Maybe they will want to start something in neighborhoods that make banks skittish.
Perhaps a few will emulate Richard D. Parsons, the former chairman of Citigroup and Time Warner, who spent some of his fortune reviving Minton’s Playhouse and setting up a sister restaurant in Harlem, empowering a team of black chefs to explore the African roots in American cuisine. (Both establishments will be changing direction this fall, but the original model could be exported to other neighborhoods, other cities.)
Real-estate developers can get in on…