Axios Closer

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February 14, 2024

Wednesday βœ….

Today's newsletter is 697 words, a 2Β½-minute read.

🚨 Situational awareness: At least one person was killed after a shooting near the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl parade.

πŸ”” The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 1.0%.

  • Biggest gainer? Uber (+14.7%), the ride-hailing company, announced a $7 billion share buyback.
  • Biggest decliner? Akamai Technologies (-8.2%), the cloud platform provider, disappointed investors with Q4 revenue.

1 big thing: Menu pressures

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Inflation and extreme weather are changing what we eat when we eat out, Hope writes.

Why it matters: Diners' demands are not only competing against commingled global challenges but they're also being partly driven by them.

Driving the news: "There's a lot of fish and seafood that I don't bring in now from other parts of the country because they're just too expensive," chef and restaurateur Michelle Bernstein told me during Axios' BFD summit in Miami yesterday.

  • "I don't remember the last time I brought in things like live sea urchins and skate wings, and even foie gras."
  • These luxury dishes were always on her Miami menus "because people expected them. But we find that it's not really necessary. We can get creative with a head of iceberg [lettuce] if we have to."

The big picture: Extreme weather has limited Bernstein's access to other ingredients too, forcing her to "create with what we have."

  • Chefs globally have been facing similar challenges, including some in Hong Kong and others in Canada, where dishes with squid and sardine have been appearing more frequently as warming oceans push fish like salmon to cooler waters in the poles.

What we're watching: The rapid rise in food prices and labor costs over the past few years has caused restaurants to raise prices by 24% since January 2020, while margins shrunk.

The bottom line: Those pressures are likely to linger.

  • Full-service restaurant employment remains below pre-pandemic levels. And droughts, flooding and other extreme weather, worsened by climate change, continue to uproot agriculture β€” everything from botanicals used in gin to wheat, tomato and red jalapeΓ±o crops.

2. Finding willing workers

Chef Michelle Bernstein, with Hope. Photo: Ledd Villamarzo, Edin Studios

One way to alleviate the labor shortage, Bernstein said, was through immigration, Hope writes.

  • When culinary school students come to work, they think they're chefs that are "ready to go," she said, so it's harder to find willing workers for all of the other essential jobs around the restaurant.
  • Immigrants account for more than 1 in 5 jobs in the foodservice and restaurant industry, according to recent government data.

The intrigue: The economic need may outweigh the political debate. And that extends down the supply chain to farms and transportation.

  • U.S. trucking companies are already recruiting in other countries, John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Association, told the Houston Chronicle.

3. What's happening

πŸ›’ Colorado filed a lawsuit to block Kroger's $24.6 billion merger with Albertsons. (Axios)

πŸͺ§ Uber, Lyft and DoorDash drivers staged strikes today, calling for fair pay and better treatment. (Reuters)

4. 🏎️ More than surviving

Data: Forbes; Chart: Axios Visuals

Season 6 of "Drive to Survive" lands next Friday on Netflix, Hope writes.

Why it matters: The show is widely credited for helping F1 become massively popular in the U.S. since its 2019 debut β€” particularly among women, even though they barely appear in the show.

The intrigue: The valuations of top teams Ferarri, Mercedes and Red Bull have exploded in that time β€” with Red Bull now more than triple its 2019 value.

What they're saying: "I once asked someone β€” 'Why are young girls and women watching the show?' They said, 'What are you kidding me? You have these handsome drivers who pull their shirts off on screen,'" Jeff Moorad, CEO, founder and partner of MSP Sports Capital, and an investor in McLaren Racing, told me yesterday at BFD.

  • "That's only a part of it. But the fact is, is that they go behind the scenes and show the sport like I think the audience really wants."

5. Sports analogies to retire

Jeff Moorad, CEO of MSP Sports Capital, and Tyler Epp, president of F1 Miami Grand Prix, with Axios' Hope King. Photo: Ledd Villamarzo, Edin Studios

People love to use sports analogies β€” much to my chagrin, Hope writes.

I asked Moorad which ones make him cringe the most.

  • "Flat-footed," he said.
  • And "Show me the money."

Why he's smiling: Moorad is a former "super agent" who was a technical consultant for the film "Jerry Maguire," which made the phrase famous. He reportedly was part of the inspiration for Tom Cruise's character.

6. What they're saying

"At the end of the day β€” my bad."
β€” Lyft CEO David Risher, on Bloomberg Television, discussing the typo heard round the world when an extra zero in a press release caused the company's shares to surge 67% in after-hours trading yesterday. The real earnings projection wasn't bad, and Lyft still closed up 35% today.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

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