“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.
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: