Sunday, March 11, 2007

Follow up on "Bad review? Yes. Libel? Not likely."

While not an exact follow up, an article in the Washington Post caught my eye and reminded me of the New York Times article I blogged about inBad review? Yes. Libel? Not likely. The article, Juiciest Beef in Town, recites what I would call a feud between a restaurant owner and the New York Times' food critic. This article also provides a backstory to the earlier New York Times article.

However, the restaurant is not just any greasy spoon:

...Chodorow (the owner), interviewed during dinner at the Kobe Club, takes issue with the idea that his restaurant, which serves a $290 steak, is overpriced. Expensive, yes. But not overpriced. He said he's already working on deals to replicate the place in Miami and Los Angeles.

I liked the article for showing alternatives to the litigation reported in the New York Times and highlighted in my earlier post.

...Chodorow then shelled out $40,000 to take out a full-page ad in the Dining Out section of the Times two weeks later.

In his broadside, which took the form of an open letter to Bruni's boss, Chodorow said Bruni had launched "personal attacks." He questioned the reviewer's credentials, citing his previous job in Rome, covering politics, the pope and other general news subjects. He promised to start a blog with a section called "Following Frank," in which he would review the critic's reviews.

"There had been previous times I wanted to write a letter," said Chodorow, adding that everybody around him had persuaded him not to. But this time the review was "so off-base," it was offensive, said Chodorow, who has since banned Bruni from his restaurants and offered

No, not a greasy spoon at all. Big money rides on good reviews. Instead of litigating the matter, the owner used the means available to him to fight back in a better forum than a courtroom. Courtrooms may be open to the public but they are not truly a public forum in the same way as a newspaper. Here the business owner answered the public slight in a public way. I strongly suggest that this method offers another advantage to the business owner: marketing. How many people saw the controversy and decided to check out the business and thus spent money there?