New York Times hosts ad client dinner at Guy Fieri restaurant it panned earlier in the day

“Today” Show | People Magazine | Poynter | The Braiser
Guy Fieri has responded to Pete Wells’ scathing New York Times review of his Times Square restaurant. Fieri told the “Today” show’s Savannah Guthrie that he thought the review was “ridiculous” and “overboard.” People magazine says Fieri’s not cancelling his subscription to the Times, but the Times does not release subscriber information so we can’t confirm whether Fieri or his restaurants regularly receive the paper.

“Today” brought in a panel of guests to talk about the Times review, including Dr. Phil, who said the Times held a 160-person event at Fieri’s restaurant Wednesday night. An employee at the restaurant confirmed Dr. Phil’s claim, according to The Braiser. New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy initially said in an email to Poynter:

We’re not aware of any Times event held at the restaurant last night. But, given its proximity to our offices, it’s entirely possible some small group of employees may have been there. And, that would be next to impossible for us to check.

However, spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha followed up, “We have an update for you. The Times ad sales department hosted an event for clients at the restaurant last night. It was planned two months ago.” Rhoades Ha said 200 people were invited to the event.

Fieri acknowledged to Guthrie that the restaurant has room to improve.

While Fieri admitted that the review has given him a few things to think about, he defended the quality of his establishment and his commitment to the food — asking and answering a few questions of his own.

“We’re trying as hard as we can to make it right, to do it right,” he said. “Is it perfect right now? No. Are we striving for that? Yeah.”

Fieri said, “To me it’s impossible to come in and have a dining experience and have every single thing wrong unless you come in with a different agenda, and you want to sensationalize something and you want to blow it out of the water.”

He also told The Wall Street Journal in a statement, “I normally do not respond to reviews or critics, however, given the tone of Pete’s piece, it’s clear to me that he went into my restaurant with his mind already made up. That’s unfortunate.”

Wells’ review of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar circulated widely on Wednesday. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called it “the most brutal restaurant review ever,” while Boston Pheonix’s Chris Faraone said it’s “probably one of the best things” he’s ever read. A Today.com poll found that 59 percent of respondents thought Wells’ review was “too harsh.”

In a phone interview with Poynter on Wednesday, Wells said he wrote the review because he thought it was unfortunate that Fieri’s resturant seemed to undervalue American cuisine — not because he wanted to mock the restaurant. “I really did have a lot of questions; there was so much about the restaurant that I couldn’t figure out,” Wells said.
“Today” reports:

When asked if he had any last words for Wells, who ended his review with a sarcastic “Thank you,” Fieri laughed and said, “You’re welcome,” adding, “I stand by my food.”

Here’s the interview:

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  • http://twitter.com/ClarisaClarity ClarisaClarity

    All I know is if I ordered nachos and it came bidune tortilla chips and chesse, I’d be pretty upset and dismayed.

  • Anonymous

    Poynter makes discovery — news and advertising departments operate independently! Stop the presses! Film at 11!

    Seriously, how is one to take this follow-up post by Poynter, a supposedly thoughtful organization supposedly dedicated to improving the quality of news and thus expected to be sophisticated and subtle and to have an eye for what is significant?

    Naive? Ill-considered? A sign of Poynter bosses pushing for copy?

    Why run down nonsense from an afternoon entertainment show hosted by someone who by his own accounts PLAYS a psychologist on the tube, but does not practice psychology?

    Why not ask drunks in bars what they think about the Wells review and the NYTimes ad department taking clients to the place and report on that? After all, at least the drunk has no financial interest in speaking nonsense.

    IF, and its a big IF, Poynter needed to comment on this froth then why not point out right off that even if ADVERTISING people took clients at this eatery every day it has absolutely nothing to do with NEWS?

    There is no connection. Saying that NYT ad people went to any eatery before or after any review is as relevant to the restaurant review as reporting that Wells and the head of advertising walked through the same door at 620 Eighth Avenue, but on separate days.

    Actually, I can offer an angle that might (a word that suggests doubt) make Poynter’s post worthwhile. Call the advertisers and ask if they were so disliking of the food, as Wells’ review suggests anyone would be, that the reduced the space they buy in The Times or that the choice of restaurant so thrilled them that they bought even more ads in the newspaper. That you could at least have fun with, though it remains trivia.

    SO, please, do tell us what possible connection is worth exploring about what the reviewer did one day and the ad folks did on another? And tell us why take the time check out the veracity of what was said on “Dr. Phil”?

    How about focusing on real journalism issues like the fact that the number of African American owned TV stations has slipped from about one percent to just 10 out of 1,348? Or finding out the number of cities of 100,000 or more who no longer (or rarely) have any reporter at City Council meetings? Or even the continued ignorance of journalists about which way indictments are delivered, a problem easily solved by simply visiting a courtroom to see whose chair is the highest or flipping to any of the cable stations running reruns of L&O.

  • Anonymous

    Poynter makes discovery — news and advertising departments operate independently! Stop the presses! Film at 11!

    Seriously, how is one to take this follow-up post by Poynter, a supposedly thoughtful organization supposedly dedicated to improving the quality of news and thus expected to be sophisticated and subtle and to have an eye for what is significant?

    Naive? Ill-considered? A sign of Poynter bosses pushing for copy?

    Why run down nonsense from an afternoon entertainment show hosted by someone who by his own accounts PLAYS a psychologist on the tube, but does not practice psychology?

    Why not ask drunks in bars what they think about the Wells review and the NYTimes ad department taking clients to the place and report on that? After all, at least the drunk has no financial interest in speaking nonsense.

    IF, and its a big IF, Poynter needed to comment on this froth then why not point out right off that even if ADVERTISING people took clients at this eatery every day it has absolutely nothing to do with NEWS?

    There is no connection. Saying that NYT ad people went to any eatery before or after any review is as relevant to the restaurant review as reporting that Wells and the head of advertising walked through the same door at 620 Eighth Avenue, but on separate days.

    Actually, I can offer an angle that might (a word that suggests doubt) make Poynter’s post worthwhile. Call the advertisers and ask if they were so disliking of the food, as Wells’ review suggests anyone would be, that the reduced the space they buy in The Times or that the choice of restaurant so thrilled them that they bought even more ads in the newspaper. That you could at least have fun with, though it remains trivia.

    SO, please, do tell us what possible connection is worth exploring about what the reviewer did one day and the ad folks did on another? And tell us why take the time check out the veracity of what was said on “Dr. Phil”?

    How about focusing on real journalism issues like the fact that the number of African American owned TV stations has slipped from about one percent to just 10 out of 1,348? Or finding out the number of cities of 100,000 or more who no longer (or rarely) have any reporter at City Council meetings? Or even the continued ignorance of journalists about which way indictments are delivered, a problem easily solved by simply visiting a courtroom to see whose chair is the highest or flipping to any of the cable stations running reruns of L&O.

  • Anonymous

    Poynter makes discovery — news and advertising departments operate independently! Stop the presses! Film at 11!

    Seriously, how is one to take this follow-up post by Poynter, a supposedly thoughtful organization supposedly dedicated to improving the quality of news and thus expected to be sophisticated and subtle and to have an eye for what is significant?

    Naive? Ill-considered? A sign of Poynter bosses pushing for copy?

    Why run down nonsense from an afternoon entertainment show hosted by someone who by his own accounts PLAYS a psychologist on the tube, but does not practice psychology?

    Why not ask drunks in bars what they think about the Wells review and the NYTimes ad department taking clients to the place and report on that? After all, at least the drunk has no financial interest in speaking nonsense.

    IF, and its a big IF, Poynter needed to comment on this froth then why not point out right off that even if ADVERTISING people took clients at this eatery every day it has absolutely nothing to do with NEWS?

    There is no connection. Saying that NYT ad people went to any eatery before or after any review is as relevant to the restaurant review as reporting that Wells and the head of advertising walked through the same door at 620 Eighth Avenue, but on separate days.

    Actually, I can offer an angle that might (a word that suggests doubt) make Poynter’s post worthwhile. Call the advertisers and ask if they were so disliking of the food, as Wells’ review suggests anyone would be, that the reduced the space they buy in The Times or that the choice of restaurant so thrilled them that they bought even more ads in the newspaper. That you could at least have fun with, though it remains trivia.

    SO, please, do tell us what possible connection is worth exploring about what the reviewer did one day and the ad folks did on another? And tell us why take the time check out the veracity of what was said on “Dr. Phil”?

    How about focusing on real journalism issues like the fact that the number of African American owned TV stations has slipped from about one percent to just 10 out of 1,348? Or finding out the number of cities of 100,000 or more who no longer (or rarely) have any reporter at City Council meetings? Or even the continued ignorance of journalists about which way indictments are delivered, a problem easily solved by simply visiting a courtroom to see whose chair is the highest or flipping to any of the cable stations running reruns of L&O.

  • http://www.fluxresearch.com/ Clyde Smith

    The Times didn’t review the restaurant, a reviewer did. Don’t they still have an editorial/advertising divide at the Times?

    That’s a misleading headline which is common in this world but kind of weak for a site that critiques journalism.