This post originally appeared on February 10, 2018, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.
A couple of months ago, I wrote in this letter that I was contemplating how to cover the restaurants owned by sexual harassers and a variety of bad actors:
Covering the news of the restaurant of an alleged assaulter (be it Batali or Paul Qui or Michael Chiarello) is somewhat straightforward. We cover it, but we give the context…
Less straightforward is our coverage in service-y maps and guides, where the author has less of an opportunity to provide context, especially as our recommendations also live in other places, e.g., in an OpenTable filter or in Google search results. I’m not going to tell someone whether to boycott a restaurant group or not, but I want them to have all the information.
We’ve decided this week to err on the side of removing these places from our guides and maps. Same goes for video and social coverage.
The question of what to do about our critics and reviews didn’t even cross my mind back in December, but I’m thinking about it now as Craig LaBan in Philadelphia writes, “judging a restaurant or chef on anything other than the dining experience itself is a dodgy pursuit fraught with blurry borders”; when Alison Cook in Houston awards four stars to a man who was arrested for domestic assault against his girlfriend and her young son; when Jonathan Gold in LA gives a rave to a restaurant owned by a sexual predator in order to champion “an important woman’s voice” — a woman who was aware of the dangerous culture of her own restaurant group.
What constitutes “bad” behavior varies from person to person (we might all agree that harassing employees falls into the “bad actor” column and might disagree when it comes to misdemeanors like DUIs). And I don’t expect our critics to investigate every single person they cover; they shouldn’t have to be moral compasses and investigative reporters and restaurant reviewers all at once.
But honestly, I’d just rather not go there. Why, with so much talent out there, with so many compelling restaurants to cover, would you review the one veiled in controversy? If you find yourself writing soul-searching paragraphs or essays about why you’re reviewing a place before you even get into the amuse, maybe that’s a sign you shouldn’t be writing it.
I want to be neither puritanical nor pollyanna-ish about this, but there are a lot of fucking good restaurants out there run by decent people. Or okay people. Or people who just didn’t hit their girlfriend or pinch the nipples of their employees. So we’ll try to focus on those.
Opening of the week: Woolworth on 5th
Who’s behind it? Restaurateur Tom Morales.
What is it? It’s a Southern restaurant housed in the former F. W. Woolworth department store that was the site of some of the seminal lunch counter sit-ins during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Nashville, led by civil rights leader and now-Congressman John Lewis.
Designers restored many of the original details, including the terrazzo floors, cast-iron railings, and one of the tile walls. Architects recreated the staircases and a counter. The space comprises a large dining room, mezzanine with a lounge and bar, and basement ballroom featuring a variety of music and performances (and a house band!), with genres ranging from funk to swing, gospel, and jazz.
Where is it? Downtown Nashville.
When did it open? February 5.
Why should I care? Beyond the historical implications and the restoration effort, I just love that someone opened a giant restaurant with a basement club built for poetry readings and wild dancing.
- Intel: Peruvian LA empire builder Ricardo Zarate will expand to Vegas; a Salt Bae burger chain is in the works; José Andrés is writing a book about Puerto Rico and just opened a branch of Zaytinya in Dallas; Netflix released the trailer for David Chang’s show Ugly Delicious; Danny Meyer said a large portion of his staff left over no-tipping changes; Ayesha Curry will bring her hit SF barbecue restaurant to San Diego; NY restaurateur Gabe Stulman’s Simon and the Whale opened in Gramercy; chef Alex Atala will open a hotel called D.O.M. in São Paulo in 2021; here are all the new details on Somni, José Andrés’s new tasting counter in LA; a new Houston tiki bar wants to bring a “rum renaissance” to town; the Queer Eye reboot launched with a new food expert; Boston chef Tim Maslow is making a comeback; those stupid crazy milkshakes that went viral are at the center of a $25 million lawsuit; and Won Kow, Chicago’s oldest Chinatown restaurant, closed after 90 years.
- Review: Two of Tokyo’s sushi greats (Sushi Maru and Sushi Sho) plant flags in Honolulu.
- How being perceived as “unlikeable” has changed the career of original Top Chef contestant Tiffani Faison.
- Caramelized white chocolate, explained.
- New Yorkers are lining up for the atypical pita sandwiches served at the first U.S. location of Israeli chain Miznon.
- Do you, too, love old restaurants? Here’s a 150-year-old London institution.
- How gentrification is changing the restaurant scene in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
- In defense of Salt Bae’s salting.
- How restaurateurs and culinary institutions across the country are dealing with the chef shortage.
- José Andrés on what he learned from Puerto Rico and how he’s trying to make his restaurants better for women.
- How New York’s new family leave policy will impact restaurant workers.
Last week on the Upsell
Dan and I interviewed Lucas Peterson, the host of Eater’s longest-running show Dining on a Dime and the Frugal Traveler columnist for the New York Times. He offered some travel tips and shared a very intimate story of shitting his pants while traveling in Chengdu. Give it a listen.
- I kind of like this work-in-progress dessert menu. [Washingtonian]
- A good and easy way to improve gender equality is to quote women and men equally as experts in your journalism. [The Atlantic]
- Chef Ashley Christensen on steps she’s taking to improve the culture of her restaurants. [Ashley Christensen, JBF]
- Only 50,000 of the 30 million meals FEMA contracted out for Puerto Rico were delivered. [NYT]
- You think you know barbecue? Do you know Chicago’s South Side barbecue? [Saveur]
- Exploring the political potential of Muslim and Latino communities with #tacotrucksateverymosque. [NPR]
- More than 60 women have filed sexual harassment complaints against IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants. [Vox.com]
- The court case that killed the “ladies’ menu.” [Atlas Obscura]
- Who knew? Sidewalks are terrible and they should go away. [Curbed]
- Lady Doritos and manufactured outrage campaigns. [The Outline]
- Alamo Drafthouse has a long history of minimizing sexual assault and harassment. [Splinter News]
- How publishers are playing around with Instagram stories (featuring @Eater). [Ayesha Shakya]