Monday, March 31, 2014

Food Biz: Brooklyn's Innovation Tops Charts

Battersby, Carroll Gardens,
Brooklyn. Ranked #3 in USA in 2012.
How important are Brooklyn restaurants in the U.S. food economy? To hear some of my young friends talk, Brooklyn is where the action is, the most innovative chefs.

Some numbers support the idea that Brooklyn is rapidly becoming a much bigger presence in the cuisine scene. In 1992, the Zagat guide included only 22 restaurants in Brooklyn. Two decades later, the number has increased ten-fold to 217.

Manhattan remains nearly ten times bigger, with 1,745 restaurants, but its restaurants have a secure clientele with the business-lunch and business-dinner crowd, who may not be looking for much innovation. Manhattan accounts for seven-tenths of the New York City economy, so it naturally captures the lunch-time epicureans.

But Brooklyn has has far more residents - 2.6 million vs. 1.6 million in Manhattan. And Brooklyn has been growing faster. Since 2010, it grew by 3.5 percent vs. 2.5 percent in Manhattan.  Queens, by the way, is also bigger than Manhattan, with 2.3 million, and has been growing faster, 2.9 percent, but it is not to the same extent as Brooklyn a magnet for young urban professionals.

Brooklyn's restaurants are catching on to the fact that they have sophisticated diners living nearby and with a little effort they can grab some of the dinner crowd away from Manhattan by offering something new. Many leading new restaurants in Brooklyn are open only for dinner. One advertises its opening hour as 5:30 pm, seven days per week, with closing at 11 pm every day except Sunday, when it is 10 pm.

With this background, it may not be so surprising that in the last two years the only New York City restaurants among Bon Appetit's Top 10 Best New Restaurants in the USA have been in Brooklyn. In 2012, the Top 10 included two restaurants from Brooklyn - Blanca (#2) in Williamsburg and Battersby (#3) in Carroll Gardens - and none from the other four boroughs. In 2013, the Top 10 included Aska in Brooklyn and again none from the other four boroughs.

The six runner-up cities, with two restaurants in the combined 2012 and 2013 lists, were Atlanta (one in its satellite city Decatur), Houston, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The other five cities, represented by one restaurant each in the two years, are Austin, Chicago, Minneapolis, Nashville and Seattle.

Manhattan is represented on the list, which is prepared by Andrew Knowlton for August publication each year, with five restaurants over the two years among the top 50 Best New Restaurants - Atera, Carbone, Lafayette, NoMad and Pearl & Ash.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

JOBS | Trading Growth for Sustainability–"Kurzarbeit"

Kurzarbeit ("Short Work") has been
effective at least since 2009. Ich 
war dabei!="I was there!"
Glenn Hutchins, Vice Chairman of the Brookings Institution, argues today in the New York Times that the United States should follow the German example and trade growth for jobs.

The German Government does this by supporting companies that cut back hours of workers during a recession, rather than laying them off. The employees' salaries are maintained through a system of national subsidies administered by the company.

The companies continue paying workers a reduced salary but do not cut them from the payroll. The reduced salary is subsidized by the government.

This approach builds a reserve of trained workers ready to go to work. When demand picks up, the company asks the workers to come in for more hours. It obviates the need for new hiring and catchup training programs for new workers when the business cycle improves. A reserve of workers remains in place, much like that U.S. Army Reserve and the National Guard in which civilians maintain their military skills to be ready in case of a need for rapid deployment.

Paul Krugman recommended the concept favorably back in 2010, noting that Germany's growth rate in GDP was slower than that of the United States, but its employment rate (i.e., employment relative to population, a more reliable number than unemployment because it doesn't depend on subjective surveys of intent to find a job) did not fall as much.

As they say to the guy on first base in baseball, when there is someone on third and only one out– "Always trade a run for an out."

Trade growth for higher employment, especially when our employment rate is tanking.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Your iPhone Is a Great Theft Preventer - It Is Also a Theft Temptation

NYPD Advice on Protecting
Yourself Against "Apple-Picking"
Last year I argued, in connection with new data from the Institute for Economics and Peace, that the arrival of cell phones, and especially iPhones, has helped bring down crime rates.  I was partially right.

Yes, the ability of victims or onlookers to call the police right away when they see a crime in progress is a big deterrent to crime. It's hard to remember the ancient days when you had to find a public phone to call the police.

But the new problem is that the iPhone itself is now a major theft target. I fell asleep on an Amtrak train last year and when I woke up my iPhone 4 was gone, as was a neighbor across the aisle. I was the victim of an Apple theft, sadder but perhaps wiser.

The good news is that my two-year contract period was over and I had no penalty to pay when I got myself a new iPhone. Also, the data were erased remotely and the phone was made unusable. I was lucky.

Turns out I am not alone in being an Apple Theft victim. In recent years iPhone and iPad theft has accounted for a rising percentage of major thefts (grand larcenies) - 18 percent of them in New York City. The rate has increased steadily since 2010.  This form of theft is so common now that it has a name... "Apple Picking".

Here are three sets of advice about preventing loss of your iPhone and the data that are stored in it.

1. NYPD Advice

Recommendations to New Yorkers, BEFORE your smartphone is lost or stolen:
  • Be Aware. Know your surroundings and be cognizant of your smartphone use behavior. Similar to your purse or wallet, it's best to not call attention to your smartphone and create an opportunity for a thief to steal it (e.g., leave it on a restaurant table, use it while walking or taking public transportation, allowing strangers to "borrow" it to get directions, etc.). 
  • Lock It. As soon as you get a new smartphone, set a hard-to-guess password to protect your device and change it on a regular basis. If you don't know how to set a password for your smartphones, here are video and print instructions.
  • Add Apps. There are a number of apps available that will remotely track, lock and/or erase your smartphone. In addition, some apps will remote trigger an alarm so people know that smartphone is stolen or take a photo of the thief so you can send it to police. 
  • Save It. If you have photos, emails, contacts, videos or anything else that you want to make sure is available if your smartphone is ever lost or stolen, save it somewhere else such as on a computer, USB drive or cloud service. 
  • Insure It.  Consider insuring your device through your wireless provider or a third-party entity so that if it is lost or stolen, your replacement device is covered (especially if there is a two-year contract to pay through).
2. Apple's advice, if you enabled Find My iPhone on your missing device

The following steps require that Find My iPhone was enabled on your device before it was lost or stolen. Otherwise, go to #3.

  • Put the device in Lost Mode to set a 4-digit passcode and display a custom message with your phone number on your device. While the device is in Lost Mode, you can also keep track of changes to your device's location. Lost Mode requires that your missing device be using iOS 6 or later. If your device is using iOS 5, you can still lock your device remotely and display a message on the screen.
  • If you want to delete all of your personal information from your missing device, you can erase it remotely. Please note that when you erase a device, you will no longer be able to locate it.
  • Report your lost or stolen device to local law enforcement and your wireless carrier. Apple doesn't track or flag lost or stolen products, but you can use My Support Profile ( to find a list of serial numbers for products that you've purchased or registered with your Apple ID. 
  • If your missing device is offline, you can still put it in Lost Mode, lock it, or erase it. Your commands will take effect when the device comes back online.

  • 3. Apple's advice if you did not enable Find My iPhone on your missing device

  • Report your lost or stolen device to local law enforcement and your wireless carrier. Apple doesn't track or flag lost or stolen products, but you can use My Support Profile ( to find a list of serial numbers for products that you've purchased or registered with your Apple ID.
  • Saturday, March 1, 2014

    TECH | The Reality of Startups (with PS)

    This helpful (I hope) diagram for startups
     is credited to Swann Business Solutions.
    I was scrolling through an email from Quora and ran into this honest appraisal of the downside of doing startups. As an intermittent serial entrepreneur I can empathize with someone who for a long time doesn't have much to show for a lot of work, until suddenly something is achieved.

    The overnight sensation after years of effort. (Or... not.)

    Ian Stanczyk is working on a startup in Boston and attempted to answer the question on Quora "Do people have a romanticized vision of the startup scene?" His answer is a definite yes.

    Here are excerpts:
    Doing a startup mostly sucks. You have to do all the shitty work no one in a big company wants to do, especially you with your fancy degree and overblown ego. You work long hours. You make shit for money. You worry about paying rent. 
    Above all, it's hard emotionally. You're a failure until you're not. And it's impossible to predict when that switch will happen. Your family secretly (or not so secretly) wonders when you'll quit and go to law school. Christmas is awkward as shit. Your most often felt emotion is rejection. There's a good chance your relationship will end. Most of the time, nothing is actually happening. The exciting moments are few and far between. 
    You're alone. You have nothing to rely on but your own willpower, conviction, and stubbornness. ... [But] I am very happy with the choices I've made.
    What we call "progress" owes more to people like that than is generally acknowledged. It's called following your dream, but the romantic idea about that is a hike in the mountains, which is a day's work. The reality is it may take a lot longer.

    Postscript: Here is an update on the topic of startups