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Hong Kong restaurant group pays $650k to fly staff home



Hong Kong restaurant group pays $650k to fly staff home

Hong Kong (CNN) — For Sandeep Arora, home is the ancient city of Jalandhar in the Punjab region of India. His wife, son and parents live there, but he hasn’t seen them since March 2020.

Amy Stott hasn’t seen her parents – or eaten at her beloved local fish and chip shop – in Manchester, England since June 2019.

Sabi Gurung, meanwhile, longs for the breathtaking mountains of Nepal, where her mother, father and beloved dog are all waiting for her first visit in almost two years.

But thanks to a new initiative from Hong Kong’s Black Sheep Restaurants group, they’ll all be going home soon — all expenses, more or less, paid.
In addition to money for flights and the necessary battery of Covid tests, they will also be given extra weeks of unpaid leave to endure Hong Kong’s infamous hotel quarantine, which the company is also paying for. (According to the the city’s famous strict entry restrictions, all returning residents will spend two or three weeks in quarantine at designated hotels at their own expense.)

And while they’re there, Black Sheep Restaurants even deliver evening meals to one of their 32 restaurants.

The only caveat? That staff will complete one year of service upon their return.

‘It felt like the right thing to do’

Arora, Stott and Gurung are among more than 250 employees to benefit from the move, which will allow workers at all levels to move home from Hong Kong, to faraway countries such as Argentina, Nigeria, France, South Africa and Australia.

The program was created by Black Sheep Restaurant co-founders Syed Asim Hussein and Christopher Mark. Hussein is the first to admit that the move — one that will cost them at least $650,000 — is a little crazy.

“It was a foolish idea we had after having too many bottles of wine,” he told CNN. “The next day we spoke to our business people – they were totally against it. They are there to help us not make stupid decisions.”

Despite this advice, Hussein and Mark continued.

“Our business people are great and help us understand liability and risks, but it will get in the way of us doing the right thing,” Hussein says. “This has always been a business where margins are paper thin, but especially now. I understand it was quite brutal, but it felt like the right thing to do.”

It is clear that the employees who benefit from this, as they take advantage and go home from January, do not agree anymore.

Amy Stott, second from left, looks forward to flying home to see her family in the photo.

Amy Stott, second from left, looks forward to flying home to see her family in the photo.

Courtesy of Amt Stott/Black Sheep Restaurants

Among them is Stott, who has spent the past 27 months in Hong Kong.

“It was hard being away from my family, especially now that we’ve lost loved ones,” she says.

“Just not being able to physically hug your mom and be there when they need support is a mental challenge. Since Covid I have had to get more conservative with spending because you just don’t know what’s around the corner. quarantine plus flights is money I just don’t have to miss.”

She’s going to Italy next summer for a friend’s wedding, before flying to Manchester in the North West of England to see her family and dog – and enjoy some good fish and chips.

“We have a little black schnauzer named Pippin and she likes to take long walks in the fields near my parents’ house,” Stott says. “There’s nothing but green rolling hills for miles. I never thought I could miss that chilly wind that makes your ears cold. Then fish and chips! It’s a tradition for my first meal every time I get home. Fish, chips, mushy peas.”

Her family’s reaction was understandably emotional.

“My family was overwhelmed. My dad said he already knew I work with great people, but this is by far the most generous gesture he’s come across. My mom just sobbed,” she says.

Sandeep Arora has not seen his wife and son since before the pandemic.

Sandeep Arora has not seen his wife and son since before the pandemic.

Thanks to Sandeep Arora/Black Sheep Restaurants

Arora is a restaurant manager and sommelier at two Black Sheep restaurants across the street from each other, New Punjab Club — the world’s only Punjabi restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star — and Carbon, a sister restaurant to Carbone in New York.

“I haven’t been home since the start of the pandemic, which has been very difficult for me and my family,” he says. “My son is only eight so he has an age where they seem to grow up so much, even in a month. Coming back to Hong Kong from India means 21 days in a hotel. Before the pandemic, I went back every six months. “

As a veteran of the restaurant industry, the first thing he looks forward to is home-cooked food.

“I can’t wait to eat my mother’s cooking, especially her Baingan bharta with roti. It’s a simple Punjabi eggplant dish, but I missed it so much,” he says. “It’s the first thing she makes for me when I go back.”

For many, it’s also the simple act of traveling anywhere – anywhere – outside of Hong Kong for the first time in two years.

“The opportunity to go home means so much,” Arora says. “Besides being with my family, I’m just really excited to travel again. I want to visit every corner of Punjab, especially the mountains. We walk along the rivers, stay in hill resorts and just be in nature.”

There are also elements of working in the hospitality industry that make it all the more difficult to be away from family, he says.

“With the holidays approaching, there will be a lot of families partying in the restaurants. That can be a little difficult when we’re away from our loved ones, but that’s how it always is when you work in the hospitality industry, even before the pandemic. we of the guests our families.”

Sabi Gurung says she can't wait to get home to Nepal and see her family -- and enjoy a few momos while she's there.

Sabi Gurung says she can’t wait to get home to Nepal and see her family — and enjoy a few momos while she’s there.

Courtesy Sabi Gurung/Black Sheep Restaurants

Eight-year-old Black Sheep Restaurants employee Gurung, who runs operations at La Vache, the group’s Parisian-style steakhouse, says being away from family during an epidemic has raised serious concerns.

“I’m from Pokhara in Nepal, a 20-minute flight from Kathmandu, a beautiful part of the world,” she says. “My mother, father and my dog ​​live here.

“Obviously if you have relatives of a certain age who are that much more vulnerable to this virus, you do worry about that. It’s just a constant concern in the back of your mind. Since the vaccinations, the situation in my hometown has been much better “But it was really bad for a while, not like here in Hong Kong. This chance to go home means so much to my parents and myself. It really made me proud.”

Eating local — and views to get the heart pumping — are also on her agenda.

“I’m craving momos (Nepali dumplings) and samosas that we would eat if me and my friends were hanging out in college. I miss those days! Then make coffee, sit on my roof and look at the view of the Himalayas.”

It’s clear that Black Sheep Restaurants, as a successful group with over 30 restaurants to their name and ambitious future expansion plans in London, Paris and possibly elsewhere, have the size and pockets deep enough to offer employees this very special benefit.

Gurung runs operations at La Vache restaurant in Hong Kong.

Gurung runs operations at La Vache restaurant in Hong Kong.

Noah Fecks/Black SheepI Restaurants

Given that restaurant groups are often seen as the bad guys, Hussein expects the move will be met with a healthy combination of optimism and cynicism.

“Groups are known for taking value from people who work for the group, from guests and suppliers,” he says. “So it’s very important for us to continue to be the type of group that gives value — or leaves something on the table for other parties.”

As for personnel who would try to — say — take advantage of the program?

“My instruction to our leadership team is not to strictly oversee this. Let’s get people home. It would be terrible when it comes to checking documentation. We don’t want to be draconian about implementation because then it loses its weight and value. If anyone wants to go to the beach, they must need it!”

Top image: Carbone, one of 32 restaurants of the Black Sheep restaurant group in Hong Kong. Credit: Black Sheep Restaurants



Eat Here: The 100 Best Restaurants in Denver We Can’t Live Without




Eat Here: The 100 Best Restaurants in Denver We Can't Live Without

When indoor dining was discontinued not once, but twice in 2020, we had a lot of time to think about what we liked and missed about restaurants. Our list was long. Even when they couldn’t welcome us into dining rooms, restaurant owners and hospitality workers rose to do what they do best: provide tranquility in the often challenging world we find ourselves in, a transporting bite, provide a smile (even if it was hidden behind a mask) and a reminder that a love of good food is something we can all share.

Until 2021, restaurants continued to adapt to changing rules and conditions. While some closed for good, others learned new tricks, and more eateries joined in.

For the past year, tables both indoors and out on those custom patios have been buzzing with conversation, a reminder that sharing a meal at an old favorite or trying a new place is much more than just what’s on the menu. I’ve gotten through the past twelve months with Mexican burgers delivered by La Fogata, trays of oysters shared with friends at Fish N Beer and regular trips to Misfit Snack Bar to sample what Chef Bo Portyko decided to add to the menu that week – a adventure that never disappoints. When I got the job as westwordBack in May, Food and Erink’s new editor, I went to my old go-to, Sam’s No. 3, to celebrate with a small group over chili cheese cookies. I joined friends at Brasserie Brixton when life got stressful and spent an evening drinking Aperol spritzes and eating pizza at Bar Dough for no reason at all.

Each meal reminded us that dining out is about connection, comfort and community, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in these 100 metro Denver restaurants we can’t live without.

Read the full list.

Enjoy your meal!

Are you missing one of your favourites? Check Drink Here, our list of the 100 subway bars in Denver we can’t live without. (To qualify for Eat Here, a restaurant must be open by Labor Day 2021.)


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Juventus calmly takes first place after amazing result in Russia




Juventus calmly takes first place after amazing result in Russia

Juventus calmly beat Malmö 1-0 in Turin, while all the excitement in Russia saw the Old Lady take first place in the group at death.

The old lady switched their roster for tonight’s game, but you wouldn’t know how the team started. We were comfortably in control from the start and we didn’t have to wait long before leading the way.

Moise Kean had a great chance to put us ahead in under 10 minutes with Paulo Dybala playing him out with only the one defender to beat but after crossing into a room to shoot he just sent his attempt off next to the pole.

Federico Bernadeschi weighed a cross perfectly into Kean’s path about 10 minutes later and he certainly wouldn’t turn down such an easy opportunity to go home.

The stadium whistled as fans heard the news that Zenit St. Petersburg had cleared their early deficit and after taking a 2-1 lead in Russia in the second minute of the game, meaning we now had a grip on the first place.

It was a slow start on our part after the break, although we weren’t under any pressure to make anything happen, and we finally got a chance for Adrien Rabiot, only for his attempt to sneak into the side net.

Kean was then involved again when he was found in the penalty area and while his shot was on course for the bottom corner, the Malmö keeper just managed to cross over to deny it.

The French midfielder found himself in space again in the final third and made another attempt on goal, this time the keeper failed and it bounced for Kean, crushing his attempt low and hard, only for goalkeeper Diawara to hit the one. somehow get a leg out to send it wide.

Despite being 1-0 down, it was a fine performance with a questionable finish, and we somehow took advantage of Zenit pulling out all the stops in a crazy game that ended in 3-3, with Chelsea leading the way. recaptured with a 3–2 lead after 85 minutes, only to suffer an injury time leveler by the Russian side.

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Reduce, reuse, reconnect — how a Facebook group is helping Lakeview be more sustainable and build a community





A used bike, a bag of clothes, and a leftover burrito—each of these items was given a new lease of life through a community Facebook group.

The Buy Nothing groups are home to what are arguably the most positive interactions you can find on the social media platform. Their goal is to share resources to promote sustainability and connect people with their neighbors.

“Its purpose is very simple: give where you live and recycle and reuse,” said Aditi Chakraborty, the manager of the Lakeview Buy Nothing group.

The rules are simple too: members can post a “give” to offer items they no longer use, a “ask” to request an item that someone else might want to part with, or a thank you message to say thank you for what the community has done for them. Buy Nothing emphasizes the use of a gift economy, so there is no money, no barter, no expectation of anything in return – just ask and give.

People offer typical items that appear in thrift stores, such as furniture for new renters, clothing that would otherwise go unsold at Goodwill, and neglected kitchen gadgets.

But people are also giving out homemade cookies to share, skincare and makeup they’ve tried but didn’t like, unused concert tickets, and even a DoorDash burrito that was delivered to the wrong address. Everything is shared and, if possible, nothing is lost.

“We’re talking about a mindset shift,” said Elise O’Malley, program manager at Plant Chicago.

The non-profit organization in Back of the Yards offers educational workshops, a farmers market and guidance for small businesses to promote sustainability and a circular economy, where resources are reused in new ways rather than turned into waste.

“Right now, the global economy in which we operate is a linear economy,” O’Malley said, “where producers draw resources from the earth … to make products such as plastic water bottles or cheap clothing that consumers turn once or only a handful. Through reuse… we play a role in preventing the extraction of those resources.”

O’Malley explained that, in addition to diverting items from a landfill, reuse reduces the amount of energy used to make new products and fights climate change by minimizing activities such as deforestation and pollution. It even saves the emissions that would arise when shipping these products. Instead, Buy Nothing members can just walk to their neighbor’s house, a few blocks away.

“The sustainability aspect gets me the most excited,” said Wendy Lawler, an avid member of the Lakeview Buy Nothing group.

Lawler joined the group during last year’s quarantine, when neighbors felt more isolated than ever. Initially only looking for a place to sell her children’s clothes when the donation centers were closed, she soon became immersed in an economy of kindness.

“I know it’s crazy,” she said, “but I swear it’s worked over and over where I turn off the things I don’t need, and I get exactly what I do.”

Lawler tries to make a difference in sustainability in every way possible. In addition to making her own nut milks and starting a compost bin, she uses the group to reuse items whenever possible.

In Lawler’s greatest upcycling achievement, she took the phrase “buy nothing” to a new level.

“As my daughter’s birthday approached,” she said, “I thought, there’s a way you can still exercise that same sustainability mindset while also honoring the fanciful, whimsical, magical experience that a birthday is for a small child. “

Another member sparked Lawler’s interest when they made a “give” post for giant three-zero mylar balloons, which they donated after their thirtieth birthday party. Lawler used the “three” balloon for her daughter’s party, along with other decor from Buy Nothing Gives. She collected clothes, toys and games from both the Facebook group and local thrift stores. She even reused an edible arrangement she’d gotten two days earlier for her own birthday for her daughter’s “cake” — putting the whole party together without buying anything brand new.

“It was nice to see that you can do sustainability in a way that is still magical, fun and amazing,” Lawler said.

But the party didn’t end there.

Lawler said she will be using the “zero” balloon from the original “thirty” in a few weeks for her son’s tenth birthday. A few days after her daughter’s party, she reused a pink bouquet of Buy Nothing balloons and took them to the hospital to celebrate her mother’s last radiation treatment. And the “three” balloon found its third home at another three-year-old’s party, along with some costumes Lawler also threw in after talking to the child’s mother on Facebook Messenger.

In the Lakeview group, items go round and round, connecting people as they travel around the neighborhood.

Lawler’s partner will even look for broken items people give, replace old parts, repair them, and send them back to the group in brand new condition for someone else to use.

“Now it’s starting to look like a quest,” Lawler said. “It’s like a fun scavenger hunt.”

Climate change is a global problem, and with big business being the biggest culprits, it can seem hard to make a difference. But O’Malley thinks individual actions still have value and impact.

“Your individual behavior communicates your values ​​to others,” she said. “There’s some kind of elusive value of creating a ripple effect.”

As part of Buy Nothing Gives, it’s common for people to post updates on how they’re using the items they’ve received, and send photos of how the gifts are doing in their new homes.

“It’s nice to see where these things end up, and then it’s kind of a perpetuation to get more out there,” Lawler said.

In the Lakeview group, this kind of ripple effect has had visible results. Since Chakraborty volunteered to be the admin of the group in May 2020, the group’s popularity has skyrocketed.

“Our group has grown tremendously since I joined,” she says.

The group now has more than 5.3 thousand members. In fact, it has split several times as so many people continue to join, creating new groups in Lincoln Park, Ravenswood, and more.

“If you don’t have one in your own community, if someone is interested, you can start one,” Lawler said. “I think it makes the community stronger. I really like it.”

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