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Chowhound Restaurant Reports: Critiques or P.R.?


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Chowhound Restaurant Reports: Critiques or P.R.?

Seth Chadwick | | Aug 27, 2006 03:21 AM

Howdy, all!

A recent discussion on the L.A. board ( ) has got me thinking and I am curious as to the thoughts of fellow Chowhounds.

In essence, I am wondering what the responsibilities of a CHer are in reporting back about a restaurant experience. On several occasions, I have heard that we should be "building up" restaurants (especially new ones) and, perhaps, glossing over negatives because, as one person put it, we could cause a restaurant to fold and deprive someone of their livelihood.

I think that is an interesting perspective, but not one that I share. I run a food blog on Phoenix metro restaurants. At the current time, I would say that my reports are 50% positive, 30% neutral, and 20% negative. When I post a negative review, I inevitably get one or two emails stating that I should be "building up" the restaurants and that my criticism should have been muted.

My standard response is that if they want to pay me for public relations, then we can have a discussion. Otherwise, I do not believe that it is my place to do anything but convey the details of an experience I had at a restaurant that wants me to spend part of my paycheck in its establishement. If the service of a cafe was awful and the meat overcooked and the coffee sitting way too long, do I ignore those because people may decide to go to another restaurant based on my review, thus pulling away dollars from an eatery and "depriving someone of their livelihood"?

I understand the sentiment, but I am not sure that withholding facts about a miserable dining experience does anyone any good.

Your thoughts?

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