Am I the only one that thought all the free publicity Gotham got in Friday’s Oregonian was no more than gushing drivel? One restaurant got seven pages plus the cover of A&E? You’d think it was the annual food issue and Hebberoy and company had won. Want to bet who will be the next Oregonian restaurant of the year? If, as I have heard, it takes two pages of advertising to pay for one page of article, I wonder if there are a lot of restaurant owners pissed that they just subsidized seven pages of free advertising for the Ripe empire. For those of you who missed Fridays Oregonian and have PLENTY of time to read them, here’s a link: Note, the link is no longer online
If you read my reviews, you’ll know I have been a huge fan of Ripe, a big fan of Gotham, and frankly have had very mixed feelings about both the food and the entire Clarklewis experience (yes, I know it’s not supposed to be capitalized – like the flashlights at each table to see the menu – that’s just stupid), but for an establishment they gave ended up giving a B+ on the food, all this publicity seems over the top. Come to think of it, they have awarded the same score to some other restaurants lately after pretty much saying the food sucks. Gotham, while it has its flaws, is plainly better than any of those, so I suppose a B+ in this comparison is a rather large slap in the face to Hebberoy. According to the Oregonian, Gotham is no better than some pretty poor establishments previously reviewed.
The first part talks about Ripe, and how they “set out to kill restaurants” with a grand new philosophy, but as they go on it they seem to prove that with the new Gotham tavern they pretty much sold out that ideal and went for the money instead.
The food review itself is pretty darn good. Karen Brooks did an excellent job I can’t really argue with any of it, but then to follow her review with a page and a half about the design is pretty sad. They rave about the view and how it overlooks the Max station (wow!), the Albina waterfront (yeah, that’s pretty), and finally the Fremont Bridge which “sends shadows through the bar like falling trees”. Insert rolling eyes here. With all their power, maybe they can get the ugly power lines for those beautiful Max trains moved too! I’ve probably been here with ten different groups of friends, and the one comment that always seems to be made during the evening is “You know, when you really look at it, this place is ugly and loud”. The Oregonian continues with a long discussion about the (minimalist) decoration – Wow, look at the gnomes. It “seems they have moved… or have they!” I’m gonna be sick. Finally, there is almost an entire page on staff education. I think this is a terrific thing, but I wonder how they are getting around BOLI as “attendance is mandatory and employees are not compensated for their time”. Hmmm… since they take field trips to prune grapes and whatnot, it appears considerable time is involved. I know rules are a bit different for the restaurant industry than most, but I can’t help but wonder.
Something is fishy about this whole thing. I thought so when Clarklewis was named restaurant of the year after being open only three months. When he discusses the award, Michael Hebberoy states that is because “people don’t understand what ripe is all about”. Confusing since Ripe wasn’t the recipient.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for the entire Ripe/Gotham/Clarklewis empire, but something stinks at the Oregonian.
1) i loved hebberoy’s comment about trying to establish a high culture of food. what have the French been doing for the last couple of centuries? how about a NEW idea?
2) and his assumption that portland chefs and diners are all hicks from the sticks. when he was in diapers, lots of us were traveling the world and learning things about food (and manners, and respect for the intellect and abilities of others) that he still hasn’t figured out.
3) it’s wonderful that his staff is tasting various kinds of chocolate and pruning grapes. will that get the meals to the table hot, or keep the waiter from disappearing just when it’s time to order dessert? there’s all kinds of training that they could use that would be of more benefit to the customer.
4) he obviously doesn’t know that new york agents are always charming as hell when they talk to viable potential clients. “new york will have us . . . ” portlanders are saying, go try this act in new york and see how it goes over. 5) andy warhol indeed. michael, it’s only food.
No doubt. I was laughing with no tiny bit of disgust at his”New York Will Have Us..” comment and the sad exhultation of the precociousness of their child. Oh my god. Someone told those two they were a little too special when they were kids…
why do you feel that you need to personally insult people posting their opinions about some fairly typically annoying quotes from an article in a newspaper?????? Your last comment was entirely unwarranted. Obviously you feel our comments about the Hebberoy’s arrogance were unwarranted as well, but the editor of this blog wanted our comments for better or worse on this fluff piece.
Seriously. From my two comments you ascertain that (1) my parents were verbally abusive (2) I am neurotic and (3) I should never have kids. Unreal.
Just a little note from the BOLI website:
Q. When an employee needs on-the-job training, can the employer establish a “training period” during which it would not be necessary to pay the minimum wage and overtime?
A. No. The law does not recognize unpaid on-the-job training time. “Training time” is considered a cost of doing business for an employer.
Q. If I require my employees to attend monthly staff meetings outside regular work hours, do I have to pay them for the time spent in the meeting?
A. Yes. Anytime an employer requires an employee´s attendance that time must be considered as hours worked, even though the employee may not be engaged in a productive work activity.
Q. If I require an employee to attend a company-paid class or seminar to improve job performance, do I also have to pay the employee for hours spent in class?
A. Yes. If you require attendance, you must pay the employee for hours spent in class.
ExtraMSG, you have your own site where you can spout your rhetoric anytime you wish. Why is it that you seem to feel the need to attack people on every other site in town? It makes you look insecure, and is just going to end up turning people off to your boards. Frankly, I’m sick of seeing it everywhere, especially with the personal nature of your attacks. What did your parents do so wrong to bring up a person like you?
extra msg… you are a suck up tool. just like the oregonian or should i say the hebbergonian, for christ’s sake, you are blowing your wad over a highly over rated restaurant. yes it is good but if you really think it’s all that, i would suggest you get out more. and why get your panties in a knot about someone raising the some logical and needed questions to last fridays ridiculous a&e. idiot section.
did we make it clear that you are now regarded as a idiot? just in case… here you are again, idiot
The Hebberoys are successful and celebrities in a sense. They put themselves out there with some comments and attitudes that some will appreciate and others will not. I am simply a person who enjoys food (include that of the Hebberoy’s restaurants) who is posting on a blog. I am a “nobody”. I don’t even have my own blog! But I do have an opinion and that article exposed the two of them to be more than slightly arrogant and a little laughingly naive. It doesn’t detract from their success (obviously) that their personalities rub some of us the wrong way.
I define success differently than the Hebberoy’s and consider myself very successful in my life. I am sure others would disagree but as of yet, there has been no Oregonian article for me to expose my ego in. My parents will be very proud if there ever is one.
reflecting on the harsh “idiot” words I had for msg… sorry. that was uncalled for, if i had any sense i would have took better aim at your “opinon” and not fallen to the easy choice of calling you an idiot.
Marshall Manning says
I didn’t want to comment until I had read the article, but I agree with the original post that it’s a lot of hype for one restaurant and it’s print space that might have been used to cover the ideas of other restaurants and owners instead of focusing on just one. It would have been a much more interesting article if it had shown how different restaurants train their staff, for example.
And while it’s great to train your staff, in our two visits to Clarklewis, the staff hasn’t seemed as professional as the staff at Paley’s for instance, and one waitress wasn’t knowledgeable about decanting wine at all and seemed especially snotty when I had to stop her from pouring the sediment from a 15 year old bottle into the decanter. Of course maybe that snottyness is part of their training?
My comment about their “childhoods and parents” was a generalization I often give out when I hear a bit of loud arrogance or attention-seeking behavior. It isn’t personal.
I like the restaurants. I didn’t appreciate the article. Nuf sed.
Are two restaurants and a sunday dinner an empire? Do they really dominate the Portland restaurant scene? Let’s be realistic folks. The hyperole surrounding Portland food conversation is ridiculous. If there is a regional restaurant ’empire’ then it is PCR. A company with enough capital to build whatever they want where ever they want in Portland. Maybe it’s Holland/Burgerville. I love me some ‘seasonal’ shakes, they certainly have everyones attention come Onion Ring time, and there are convenient locations all over the Portland Metro area. The hebberoys, have had a wonderful run in a very brief time. A remarkable run. They’ve aligned themselves with two talented, and one notoriously tempermental, chefs. They will most likely overextend themsevles and their abilities as so many have done in the past. When lawsuits and sweat equity start to take their toll then perhaps we’ll realize that the emperor has no clothes. How many ROTY are still open? My suggestion is to eat out often at the places you like, and while doing so, remember that it’s a brutal industry that has claimed more experienced and worthy victims than the hebberoys. Only a few have survived and there is a reason for it. Professionalism, Vision, Experience, and a hell of alot of luck. My money is on Higgins, and Paleys, being around long after the hebberoys are spoken of wistfully with the likes of Cafe Azul, Laslows, and Zefiros. Just because they print it don’t mean you gots to believe it. And by the way, it is just food.
Thanks for starting this topic, Foodude.
Some of the posters in this discussion have tried to separate The Oregonian’s massive press release in the AandE from the Ripe business family. I don’t buy it. Ripe is courting media coverage. Isn’t that plain?
The language that flows from Mike’s mouth isn’t accidental and innocent, it’s carefully considered marketing. The Oregonian isn’t an outsider documenting a phenomenon from afar, it’s an active participant in a trend. Mike has the ability to make interesting manufactured statements (like, we train people according to Maoist re-education camp principles; like, bars are exclusionary and diners are antiquated; like, “I feel like Warhol the day after he camped on Truman Capote’s doorstep, I have squeezed every little last drop of my essence onto their conference tables — and they loved it. The moral of this story . . . New York will have us . . . any time we like.”). This makes good press, and the media enjoy someone who can utter such lines. Symbiosis.
I don’t grudge the Ripe business family its success and celebrity. You won’t find me complaining about the rest of the successful restaurateurs in our city. *But* there’s something different going on with these folks. It’s hardly just good cooking which has made them who they are…..
I don’t think the “courting” of media coverage is the base issue here. It is the oregonian and perhaps some of Michael’s statements (which I say… whatever)
but the oregonian was reckless, I cannot see how their editor allowed that, well maybe I can… it is no secret Karen Brooks and Michael have are planning a book together… but then we start to tread into unethical behavior…
anyway to get back to the idea… the oregonian gave as stated an average review coupled with an entire issue basically committed to the average reveiwed restaurant.
That there is the disappointment… It’s like the current administration and fox news.
one side note… “new york will have us”… maybe williamsburg
Marshall Manning says
Interesting, Nick. While I agree that it’s not JUST cooking that makes a restaurant successful (they generally need good service, too), I also don’t believe that it’s necessary to create a hype machine in order to have a successful restaurant.
Look at New Sammy’s in Talent. They do no advertising, don’t seek attention, and yet still get raves for their food and they must be at least somewhat successful to keep the restaurant going.
Even here in town places like Paley’s, Fife, and Park Kitchen seem to be doing well without resorting to anything more than normal advertising and without the help of a 7 page Oregonian puff piece.
Maybe it’s just because the faux hipster attitude annoys me, but I feel much more comfortable going into places like Paley’s and Park Kitchen than I do Clarklewis, and I also feel like they value my business more when they aren’t driven by hype and pretentiousness.
Karen Brooks says
For the record: I am NOT writing a book with Michael Hebberoy or anyone from Ripe and have no intention to do so. I write my own books. The information from “anonymous” derives from an old rumor.
I finally have to give in and comment.
Yes, the Oregonian piece was beyond nauseating. Yes, the Hebberoy’s are extremely pretentious. Yes, the “new york will have us” quote made me laugh out loud.
And yes, their restaurants are doing some of, if not the, best food in town.
I think a lot of people won’t admit jealousy/envy at their success, I will. Michael is a masterful schmoozer and self promoter and he and Naomi smartly hire really talented chefs (whom I wish got more credit in all these articles). Michael also, as the article says, “comes from an affluent family” and no doubt this helped fund their rise, a luxury few have.
Lastly, and maybe this is important only to me, but I appreciate that they pay their cooks better and more equitably than any other place in town(I don’t hold Michael and Naomi responsible for Morgan’s screaming and yelling). The Hebberoys and the chefs have the vision, but it is the cooks slaving and sweating to make it happen. I also know that the May before opening clarklewis, they paid for the entire ripe staff to go to Napa, including a meal at French Laundry.
I don’t think they’d make it in NYC, but hey, regardless of my feelings towards them personally, I think they’ve helped make some great food happen in Portland.
Has anyone ever seen ExtraMSG and hebbmichael in the same room together? Either it’s him (writing outside the box) or he is DEEP in the empireripe, for sure. Or, maybe he’s just a ‘humble believer’.
the food “critic” for the oregonian. anybody feel that this woman is a bitch as i’ve heard her described?
i wonder what motivates a full page review of cobra’s and matadors to just slam it with a d review. i mean after those words go ahead and give it an f. really i don’t much care for C&M but jesus that review was viscous and cruel… i think this woman is an awful joke of a food critic. this after the gush fest of the ripe empire, then this?
i wonder if she felt the need to prove her street cred and show she can still be critcal??? who knows… it is kind of like a mother backhanding a child though with that review, just cause you can doesn’t mean you should. really, with all the deserving potential reviews out there, she gives it to C&M and D’s them??? why full review in the first place? if it was not so great, give them a small blurb and get onto a good restaurant.
In the article, the author writes: “The space is great. Arguably no inner-city ground floor restaurant has a view quite as unexpectedly engaging as the Gotham. It sits just high enough on Interstate Avenue to overlook the MAX station to Lower Albina’s industrial waterfront. In the late afternoon light, the Fremont Bridge sends shadows through the bar like falling trees.”
He’s not saying the MAX is one of the sights to behold. He’s saying that the restaurant is high enough that you can see past the MAX to the waterfront, which is what you want to see. And personally, I think massive bridges like the Fremont bridge *are* engaging — as much or more so than impressive natural beheamoths.
I like Gotham’s interior. I disagree with Brooks about the booths being oversized. My wife and I sat at one on a visit and even with the din had no problem talking to each other. I don’t like clarklewis’s interior, but GBT is both interesting and still rather casual. There’s no denying the place is noisy as hell, though.
On the education thing: I’ve been required to take classes before without compensation. I’m not sure it would be any different. There are probably exceptions for such things. Plus, there are usually exceptions for businesses under a certain number of employees.
Anonymous 1 & 2: If their parents told them they were too special, maybe yours were a little too quick to tell you you’d never amount to much? In my experience, those with dreams and the support to follow their dreams — and the will and the confidence — have a much better chance of attaining them than those who had someone always feeling the need to cut them down.
Do any potential new souls a favor and don’t have kids. We don’t need anymore neurotics running around whose parents made sure they knew they were never good enough.
Because I despise this sort of disdain for success and celebrity. How are my jumps to conclusion any worse than yours? Though I don’t know which anonymous you, specifically, are; truly I only ended up attacking the second post and merely the attitude of the first.
But the second one has terrible problems as well that I just thought too numerous to critique: 1) obviously Hebberoy wasn’t saying that there is no such thing as food culture anywhere. He was implying that a) it’s a worthy goal to maintain the cultural aspects of food; this is the same thing that Slow Food aims to do, and b) that he would like to help improve Portland’s food culture. 2) He never said anything about Portlanders being hicks and certainly not anything about ALL Portlanders being hicks. And even if Portland was largely hicks, it would not follow that all Portlanders are hicks. 3) Is educating the staff on products, etc, mutually exclusive from training the staff to maintain a service level? No. And in the article they explain why it’s important. 4) Why, NYers don’t like good food? 5) He wasn’t comparing himself to Andy Warhol. He was comparing his feelings to the feelings that Andy Warhol had. And are you saying that Warhol’s art is more important than food?
“…especially with the personal nature of your attacks.”
This is ironic since I was responding to the personal nature of the attacks on the Hebberoys. Apparently people think they should be able to attack anyone else personally and then not get the same in return?
I think if you go through my posts no matter where they are, I rarely if ever attack people personally. But I do admit that I have a bad habit of responding in kind.
It’s just a pet peeve of mine that I’m a bit quick to jump on. The same thing happened to me when the Oregonian did their article earlier this year.
I think, first, people need to remember that authors collect a bunch of quotes and “facts” and put them back together in a way that tells a compelling story, but it’s never a very complete picture and often is quite misleading. For all we know, the article is a better reflection of the author than it is of the subject.
But even if it were an interview, it’s a very incomplete picture of a person. It’s certainly not enough to start attacking their childhood and parents.
btw, I really wasn’t trying to attack anyone. I was just clumsily trying to show that analogous attacks were ludicrous by pointing them at the original accuser.
Marshall, I agree, but I think newspapers and magazines like to be part of the buzz — and there’s certainly plenty of buzz going around about the Ripe Empire. I do think the article on training, eg, did make some attempt at comparisons and they even talked with Leather of Noble Rot and had a few quotes, if I remember right. I only read them online, though, so the massive relative volume of the articles doesn’t really register. I don’t really think it’s a big deal, though, because it seems like just a one-time thing. In some ways, I like it because it gave a lot more depth on one place than we normally get from a newspaper. It was more like a magazine article.
I agree on clarklewis’s service. Ironically, my experiences at GBT have shown that they’re much better about that. I think it may be a case that training is no substitute for a good floor manager, and I imagine that GBT is better managed in that way.
No, you’re not the only one who thought the series went way overboard (yep, I’m the one who wrote the PDX Metblogs piece.)
I would bet that the Hebberoys are wincing about some of the quotes that got extracted – and if they’re not? They should be, or might some day…
There have been a heck of a lot of very intelligent comments on this subject. I really appreciate everyone’s input and have been shown some new ways of looking at all of this. Thanks to everyone.
I have to give Hebberoy a lot of credit. He came from a busboy at Zefiro (I wish I remember him, I ate there almost weekly for years), to the owner of what are arguably the most talked about restaurants in Portland. That is no small achievement and shows the intelligence and passion that lies behind the man. Sure some of his comments are way over the top, but I suppose if I had rose to that level of fame so quickly I would be a bit full of myself too. I can’t defend much of what he said, but I can understand the persona that spouted it.
What bothers me the most is how the Oregonian was suckered into the whole thing, and why they decided to give so much good press wrapped around a very average food review. It just doesn’t make sense. I would hope next time they make a more general article about the trend of area restaurants or something like that rather then just running a seven page add.
What’s wrong with courting media coverage? Is Mario Batali a sell-out (this is my word, not yours), eg, for being a part of the Food Network, even though by most accounts he puts out some of the best Italian food in NY or the country? It’s never just cooking that makes a restaurant successful.
(btw, the “Ripe Empire” hyperbole is intended.)
This is interesting and I am glad people are openly discussing this new angle of extreme restaurant hype.
I really enjoyed the one meal I have had at clarklewis–we took my parents and told them we were engaged that night–we knew the bartender and a couple of chefs so we were done right. We ordered the chef’s menu and everything was delicious and creative; the service was attentive and brisk, though definitely so-hip-we-ache. But whatever.
I have not been at all interested in trying the GBT just based on the pretentiousness alone. That is just me. The dishes may taste wonderful but the descriptions crack me up and the whole idea of the $50 wood coccoon/Matthew Barney beehive is ludicrous in any context (yes, maybe even in the Godlike NYC).
The article was just the icing on the cake. I am not trying to be reactionary and dumb myself down in the face of such snobbery and prettentiousness (and manipulative naivete) but…JESUS! “Kill the Restaurant”? So precious it stinks. People have ripped the whole quasi-Abbie Hoffman thing many times over. I remain unimpressed. Just serve me some food. And K. Brooks is IN ON THE BOOK DEAL? That is rich. I guess we should all just laugh at that massive conflict of interest and wait for them all to show up on The View.
But Marshall, even if a place does no advertising it does not survive on cooking alone. Other things conspire to make it successful. They may be as simple as word of mouth or a good location, but good food is not enough. If it was, people would be showing up for dinner at my house every night. ;-)
btw, I’m sure that Beard awards and nominations aren’t hurting Paley’s, plus other awards they’ve gotten along with reviews, etc. And Park Kitchen has now been in several national magazines and Dolich notes in the latest Art Culinaire that such notoriety has really helped him.
I agree with those who’ve said that a lot of the comments and approach seem pretensious or precious and it’s already creating a backlash. But that’s a result of poor marketing perhaps, taking it a bit too far.
But it’s a chess game in a difficult business and I don’t fault them for trying just about anything they can to try to succeed. And as long as the food is good, I’ll keep going. And it is good. Very good.
Welcome Karen. Glad you commented.
Girl Cook, I’m glad you commented too. It is always nice to get things from your perspective. I agree, they should have given the chefs more credit.
French Laundry. Sigh. Besides being close to wine, I think that is the thing I miss most about all my years living in Napa.
I have a certain bias against Hebberoy ecause of some really nasty unwarranted e-mails he sent to Sur La Table which I am tempted to post here but putting that aside, certainly we can agree that piece was a completely masturbatory unnecessary commercial? Frankly I was pretty taken aback. Perhaps no more than when CL got restaurant of the year basically at opening. I have dined at bitg GBT and CL and though both were good, they just weren’t great and I don’t need Hebberoy telling me why they are.
Wow I really need to learn how to type.
Hmm… I haven’t read the paper yet today but will make sure to do so. I have said for months I don’t understand the overall grade that the Oregonian gives at the end of a review. They just don’t make sense some times.
On the other hand, I think if a restaurant deserves a bad review, they should get it, but you should try to find something good to say or at least detail the issues. I haven ‘t been to C&M yet but am suprised at this review. I know the Portland Food group liked it a lot. Nick, care to comment?