If you’re considering opening a restaurant at some point in your life or currently working in the industry, then you’re bound to understand the importance of reviews . These opinions, often published in local or national periodicals, have the capacity to influence your business either positively or negatively. For many restaurateurs, the inevitable visit from food critics can be a point of great stress, while others may look forward to the opportunity to impress someone with a bit of clout over people’s opinions. According to the Washington Post, though, a group of restaurant owners and managers in Dallas have recently rebelled against a well known restaurant critic, Leslie Brenner, by adopting a strange practice.
Leslie Brenner is well known in Texas. As the restaurant critic for the Dallas Morning News, she has a great deal of influence in the decisions that residents of the area make regarding where they eat out. With that said, she’s become known as something of a tough critic throughout the area, frequently delivering reviews that restaurant owners feel are unfair. Now, of course, anyone who receives an unflattering critique of their establishment is going to feel somewhat jaded, but there is a specific and recurring objection in Dallas. Brenner writes her reviews on the basis of a five-star system, which has led to a strong disagreement on the part of local restaurant owners, who state that it doesn’t allow for proper differentiation or fair, objective ratings between restaurants of different kinds. More specifically, they wonder how a three star casual restaurant can be differentiated from a three star black-tie lounge, etc.
Apparently, a number of restaurants in the Dallas area don’t intend to take the Dallas Morning News’ system laying down. The Dallas Observer has reported that a group of those in management positions at area restaurants held a meeting to determine what to do about the situation. Ultimately, they resolved that they would no longer allow Brenner to pay for any food or drink she received there. Most restaurant critics, Brenner included, are not supposed to accept free food under any circumstance, as it takes away from the objective nature of their journalism. By refusing to take her money, these create a scene in which her word becomes less trustworthy as bias becomes inseparable from opinion. Some of the area’s finest eateries have come on board with the policy, including Lark on the Park, Spoon, Meddlesome Moth, Proof + Pantry and others who regularly see large customer volume from local foodies and Texas culinary arts students.
The restaurants moving forward with the policy have also resolved to refuse reporters and photographers from the Morning News in advance of a review. Perhaps the boldest part of the strategy involves a number of these establishments putting stickers in their window reading ‘DMN Doesn’t Pay Here,’ as well as adorning the tops of their menus with the same phrase.