As the COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon continues to impact the local restaurant market, stories are popping up across the city, from food cart owners giving away free meals to chefs starting Instagram cooking classes. In this new version of AM Intel, we dive into different ways the state’s food service industry has been responding to the global pandemic. For more COVID-19 stories, check out our larger story stream.
Naomi Pomeroy, the owner of Portland’s longstanding restaurant Beast and the recent James-Beard-Award finalist Expatriate, has filed a class-action lawsuit against her insurer, claiming Berkley North Pacific Group and its related companies “did not adequately investigate” the restaurant’s claims for interrupted business relief. The lawsuit claims that the denial is a part of “premeditated strategy” by the insurance companies “to deny all claims related to the ‘shelter in place’ orders associated with COVID-19.”
Naomi Pomeroy isn’t the only one who has felt unfairly denied by her insurance company; restaurant owners in San Francisco, Philly, Houston, and elsewhere have filed lawsuits regarding restaurant’s business interruption claims, because across the country, insurance companies have been denying claims related to COVID-19-related mandatory shutdowns. In many cases, insurance companies have been able to do this because of clauses in contracts that specifically exclude damage related to viruses, or because they only cover cases that involve physical damage to the business.
Back in March, several Portland business owners signed an open letter to Gov. Kate Brown asking for her to shut down the state, thinking that the shutdown would allow them to file for business interruption claims. When many discovered that their claims would be denied, there was outrage among the food and beverage community in Portland. “I’m sure all these insurance companies have had their lawyers working for months figuring out how to avoid giving people their money,” Mama Bird owner Gabriel Pascuzzi told the Oregonian. “I don’t know what the point is of having the insurance if they’re never going to cover anything.” Pomeroy’s suit is seeking class-action status, so other restaurant owners in her position can join her.
In Other News...
• Ringside is bringing back its traffic-jam-causing steak sale this weekend, but only via pre-order. The restaurant has already sold out of its steaks. [WWeek]
• 10 Barrel is now selling “Portland Strong” four-packs of beer, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Family Meal PDX. For those unfamiliar, Family Meal provides financial relief for food service and agricultural workers in a medical debt crisis. The beer pack includes two pilsners and two juicy IPAs. [EaterWire]
• Counties across Oregon will re-open restaurants and bars today, and that includes tasting rooms in the Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley Wine Association, however, is really trying to avoid the large crowds often spotted at vineyards throughout the valley in May: The big Memorial Day wine tasting weekend will transition into a mainly virtual sale, and the organization is asking visitors to call wineries before rolling through. A list of FAQs appears on the winery group’s website. [EaterWire]