Restaurateur and Food Channel host of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, has taken to television to defend himself and his restaurant from a slew of bad reviews. In an appearance on The Today Show, the interviewer asked about negative reviews from other members of the press, and his Yelp average of 2.5 stars. Guy Fieri (who’s real name is Ferry), said “I’m doing the type of food America loves, and I’m doing it the right way”.
From Huffington Post: In his interview with Savannah Guthrie, [embedded below], Fieri offers three possible defenses for his restaurant. He says that the restaurant has only been open for two months and is still ironing out its kinks — OK, fair. He says that his restaurant is gigantic so it’s hard to ensure consistency while making all his menu items “by hand,” as he proudly announces his staff does. This is less sympathetic… if Fieri knew he wouldn’t be able to serve 500 people good food all at once, he probably shouldn’t have designed a restaurant that seats 500 people.
It should be noted that every major newspaper and magazine in NYC reviewed Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar before the scathing NY Times review that has brought so much attention from around the world.
I’ve noticed that the press seems to be cutting the time between a restaurant opening to review from 3-4 months, to two months (or even less). Mike Russell over at The Oregonian even pointed to a review on Yelp, for the new restaurant Trigger – which based on a pre-opening dinner – hardly fair.
It can be argued that a restaurant is taking your money from the first day they open, and the food should be up to standards from that day. Other people (and restaurant owners) argue that it takes at least three months to get the bugs out, and therefore a restaurant should not be reviewed until some time has passed.
Years ago I ran a poll asking this very question – How long should the press wait before a restaurant is reviewed. I’m going to run the same poll again, and see if there is a difference. You’ll find it on the home page of the website; if you have time, please take a moment and vote.
That Guy felt so threatened by the reviews he decided to do a live interview on The Today Show was gutsy, but I can’t help but wonder if this is all backfiring on him. It seems every major food blog and news site is now mentioning the review for a second time. If someone missed it the first time around, most likely they are aware of it now.
Based on other reviews of equally spectacular criticism, I can’t agree with Fieri that the Times writer had an agenda. Here are some excerpts from those reviews:
The Guy’s American Kitchen waitress studied the half-chewed pork, slaw, salmon, mashed potatoes and maybe moon rocks we’d left on our plates. I wouldn’t feed the mess to a cat — the end-product of our struggle to extract edible elements from heaps of sugar and sludge masquerading as normal food.
“Would you like me to wrap that up for you?” she chirped.
A protest scored us a perch in the far back “Studio” room, where the televised NFL barely took the edge off turd shaped Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders, tasting not of chicken, pretzel or any recognizable digestible matter.
…a restaurant that would be indicted for crimes against humanity, if only that crime fell within the Department of Health’s purview.
…Guy Fieri is using patriotism as a Trojan Horse for his infectious and insidious garbage.
This Donkey Sauce presents a mystery to be unraveled. What could it be? (It involves mustard, mayo, Worcestershire, and garlic, apparently.) You could line up behind the tourists—who are indeed lined up—to experience it for yourself, of course. But Fieri’s craft is such that going to that length hardly seems necessary. Read it, eat it: The kick is the same.
Eater NY –
First up, the cocktail list, which is a glorious piece of white trash ephemera—a love letter to food coloring and sugar. I go for the El Azul Watermelon, a mix of Tequila Blanco, watermelon, pineapple, and blue curacao rimmed with shocking-pink sugar. It’s not so much a drink, as it is a cup of diabetes that tastes like a crackhead with a sweet tooth melted down blue raspberry Dum Dums, gum balls, and Sour Patch Kids and put it on ice.
Be it from the Donkey sauce, grease, Whiz-like cheese, or the oily spawn of this unholy orgy, my burger came out sopping wet. It isn’t horrible, though, and in a way reminds me of a Shake Shack burger. I don’t particularly care for the Donkey sauce, identifying me, in Guy’s words, as an ass (but you already know this).
Ross Pullen says
Guy Fieri…I would have changed it too , from Ferry . The guy has some moments when he bridges the gap from showman to food guy , but they are few . If a guy (or a Guy Fieri ) is building an empire and the $$$$$$$ big boys step up with the big residuals to put his name on the door , he should have said that , “only if I have some control/say about what goes on and gets served .” He’s paying the price for public relations and the building of his brand . All have done it , from Flay , to Batali , to Legasse and so on . The pitfalls are many . Evidently he owns multiple restaurants in California and knows better .
I have opened seven – eight in my day and it’s not rocket science , but you had better be ready to “be the details ” ; or suffer the consequences . Going on TV was a bad idea . He needs a campaign where he is there for 30 days straight…visible and working . That won’t happen. he’s a “BRAND” after all .
Stick with the Mom&Pop places and you’ll not be disappointed with your food and the experience…and I’m sure there are plenty of choice in NYC for that .
Food Dude says
I agree with everything you said – especially about being there visible and working. Stupid to go on TV
“NEW YORK—Dejected by the scathing New York Times review of his new Times Square–based eatery, Guy Fieri was reportedly consoled today by local Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. franchise owner Phillip Grayson, who told the depressed Food Network star, “Hey, definitely been there before, man.” “Don’t worry, bud, I know exactly what you’re going through right now,” Grayson said to a crestfallen Fieri, explaining that he’s “seen more than [his] own share of bad reviews slamming Bubba Gump’s Dixie Fishwich and Shrimper’s Heaven platter.” “No matter how good you’re feeling about the Forrest’s Seafood Feast you just pulled out of the deep fryer, there’s always someone out there ready to take you down a peg. That’s just Times Square, my man. All part of the game.” Sources said Grayson then offered Fieri a plate of Bubba’s Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp on the house.”
Yup, that about says it all.
Self-appointed Fieri spokesman responds to each of Pete Wells’s questions, clears everything up:
That was great!
Oh, Flint. Flint, Flint, Flint… The redheaded step-children of a state that simply refuses to stop kicking itself in the nuts…
As a native NYer, now a Portlander I was always amazed at the fact that in a city with so many terrific Italian restaurants, tourists would line up at Olive Garden in Times Square. If he can get through this period, I’m sure they’ll be lined up outside Fieri’s place too. TS is one of those places that no actual NYers go to unless they work there or are passing through.
john sowa says
As a restaurant owner originally from New York and having one there before moving to the Oregon Coast I have a difficult time understanding a review that did not have one positive? I agree with others that there is a different agenda going on here. For those of us who have put in years of work trying to bring good food to the table, struggled to keep a place running during hard times, and putting in more hours than I can count having a critic deliberately thow you in front of the bus is wrong. With the advent of public reviews from Yelp, Urban Spoon, TripAdvisor we all fall prey to some plainly vindictive self centered reviews. I understand disapointment in a dish; I don’t understand it when it becomes the meaning of life and death. So as we all do Guy will have to roll with the punches even those below the belt!
Food Dude says
I suppose it is possible that the NY Times reviewer has an agenda, but what about all the other publications? They were just as harsh.
garden girl says
I’ve read many of Pete Wells’ reviews since he became the NYTimes reviewer after Sam Sifton, Frank Bruni, etc… He does not appear to have an agenda with his reviews, but Fieri is too tempting a target. I’m surprised that Wells bothered to review it.
If you’re looking for a scathing but witty review, it’s difficult to to equal the review of the Parisian restaurant Chez L’Ami Louis in Vanity Fair, “Tour de Gall” http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2011/04/lami-louis-201104
I was traveling abroad when I read it and thought it was a spoof, not suspecting that it was a review of an actual restaurant.
Food Dude says
That’s a classic! I think I even covered it when the review came out.
Food Dude says
Speaking of which, the unaired Guy Fieri bit on Saturday Night Live is pretty funny:
The SNL bit was awesome. “… you can La Cirque my dirk?” Too funny (and well deserved).