The restaurant which has only been open for a few weeks was roasted in a review (if you want to call it that) by Pete Wells, New York Times dining critic. I haven’t been to the restaurant so I can’t speak as to the accuracy of the review, but I am a Christian and was raised by my parents to be respectful of others, so I do have a couple thoughts that I’d like to add to the national conversation.
My first thought is “Really?” I can understand that the restaurant may not have met the expectations of the Mr. Wells, and apparently didn't do so on more than one occasion. However, what exactly makes Mr. Wells believe that his poor experiences justify a total cessation of respect for Mr. Fieri? Sure, he made headlines when he wrote the review, but at what cost? It certainly seems to me that Mr. Wells has shown us all that he isn't very professional, and certainly not very couth. It would also seem to me that either his parents failed to impress on him the need to show other people basic respect, or his parents are horrified at the fact that he turned away from the core family values upon which he was raised.
The next thing that comes to my mind is “bully”. Schools all across the country have taken great efforts to teach children about the dangers of bullying. Mr. Wells, it seems to me, has just created a great case study for how bullies operate. Mr. Wells used his platform to make himself look better at the expense of others; in this case, Mr. Fieri. Had Mr. Fieri personally touched Mr. Well’s table on one of those visits, would Mr. Well’s have stated his critique face-to-face? I doubt it. People who bully others typically do so only when they have no real fear of reprisal. Bullies use their position of power, or their perceived position of power, to enhance their own personal self esteem.
“Disappointment” is something else that I felt after reading Mr. Well’s supposed critique of Mr. Fieri’s restaurant. I was disappointed that the New York Times actually published the article as written. I’m not suggesting that the “review” not be genuine, but I am strongly suggesting that the New York Times should have had Mr. Wells re-write the “review” to reflect the level of professionalism that the Times is known for. Mr. Wells could have raised all of the same criticisms in a professional and respectful manner. In my opinion the Times certainly didn't benefit from the “review”; in fact it suffered some loss of credibility.
And speaking of “credibility”, Mr. Wells has lost most of his in my opinion. I have over 25 years of experience in the hospitality business: hotels, restaurants and catering. I've had angry guests throw keys and desk clerks, scream at twenty-something servers, and use foul language at a high volume at the hostess stand because they couldn't get a table exactly when they wanted one even though they had no reservation. Surely I must not have realized “who they were”? Sure, we might have made a mistake or provided poor service in some of these instances, but a guest who loses complete sight of the fact that the employees in my establishment are HUMAN BEINGS doesn't motivate me to take their concerns too seriously. After all, if a guest can’t treat me and my staff with respect, I’m pretty sure I don’t need them to return.
Don’t get me wrong; I do believe that the guest is always right. However, there is absolutely a line that can be crossed, and Mr. Wells crossed it. If I were Mr. Fieri, I wouldn't be too concerned with Mr. Well’s opinion on anything else going forward.