An Opening and a Closing

Probably the most significant Chicago restaurant world stories of the last week and a half were the opening of Three Dots and a Dash and the closing of West Town Tavern (followed by the opening and then closing of Chicago Taco). How did the Chicago food media handle each?

Let’s start with West Town Tavern. I never went, but everything that I had heard led me to believe that WTT was a nice neighborhood spot and it always seemed to be kind of just chugging along. A little googling revealed that the place had been open since 2002, so basically it was ancient by restaurant life expectancy standards. On July 22, seemingly out of nowhere, WTT abruptly announced that they were closing. Three days later we found out that the restaurant would be re-opening the next day (under the same ownership) as Chicago Taco. Chicago Taco opened for a night, and then closed, and that, it seems, is that. So what happened? Perhaps this would be an interesting story for a local food journalist to pursue. Well, apparently not. At this point we’re stuck with Eater comments (potentially the lowest form of discourse known to man) and Twitter speculation.

On the other hand, Three Dots and a Dash is now open. Paul McGee/Lettuce Entertain You’s tiki bar/soon to be bro vs. cocktail hipster Octagon of Truth is now fully operational underneath Bub City. I know this because Twitter was flooded with pictures and talk of the free drinks from friends and family. I also know this because Time Out Chicago posted this. Is it an opening report? Maybe. Is it a review? Coyly no, I guess. It does sound like the author and companions had a great time boozing it up, and we’re left with the comment

So how was everything? We’re planning to review Three Dots and a Dash once it’s been open for at least a month, but we’ll say that we finished every drink in front of us.

Well, if you’re going to review it in a month then don’t say anything. Besides, I’m pretty sure that I’d be pretty excited about any bar where I drank the entire menu (on someone else’s dime I assume). So in the end, what’s the point? Is this any better or more valuable than a press release? I will say that the upside to this potential tiki revival is that we’re finally going to get some pictures of cocktails that don’t look like this (found via Google Image Search)

Image

The difference in coverage between these two stories is pretty typical of the Chicago food media these days unfortunately. Non-critical coverage of the latest PR driven opening, and non-existent coverage of the closing of a venerable neighborhood restaurant. I don’t blame any individuals for this, at least not entirely. But this is what happens as media outlets cut budgets and people. All of us really come out worse off.

UPDATE: This was a major oversight on my part, but if you are interested in a substantive discussion of tiki that goes beyond “ZOMG we drank all of the drinks” check out the latest Airwaves Full of Bacon podcast here. It’s a great listen on tiki and other subjects, and really represents the best of non-PR driven journalism right now.

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5 thoughts on “An Opening and a Closing

  1. Michael Gebert

    Thanks, Josh, for the mention of Airwaves Full of Bacon. I would point out that Roger Kamholz, who produced that piece, did work with Lettuce’s internal PR to set it up– inevitable when you want to interview the main figure behind a big upcoming opening– but other than some minor restrictions on photography (no doubt already promised to some publication) they didn’t expect anything of us, try to guide the coverage or anything. I find this is generally true, give and take a little here or there; if coverage is frothy and bubble-headed, that’s almost certainly a choice of the publication in terms of their audience and desired tone more than it’s anything that the PR people have pushed on them.

    Reply
    1. jesteinf Post author

      That’s good to know. Even from an outsider’s perspective I get the sense that a fair amount of this is driven by the publications/outlets (which is most evident when you can tell people are just copying and pasting press releases…that’s not the PR person’s fault).

      Reply
  2. Titus

    Whats up Josh, Titus here, the one who posted under my name the last time I commented. You really expect the food media to be up to par when the sports guys are afraid to ask the tough questions? Haha. Well anyway sorry you had to unfollow on twitter, am I Dwight and you’re kobe or vice versa? Ha. Anyway lets please get one thing straight. Im not hiding under anyone’s name. I’m Titus (31 from Chicago Lincoln Park 1980′s until now) and not George, I can spell proper and Ive never shyed away from discussing stuff we disagreed about on twitter.

    Only reason I came to comment here was someone left a comment on my site talking about your buddy John’s childish behavior on twitter so I checked it. Because if someones talking shit about me I wanna know. Not too crazy to tell someone to fuck off when they sit on twitter talking shit is it? Oh wait…we disagree on that end.

    Did John ever tell you how I PMed him and told him to knock it the F off? To which he just replied to say nice write up about burger link I then posted? Prob not. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it’s him or someone else leaving those comments trying to make it seem like me. We already know its him or one of two others as Pie Man which is as lame as leaving anonymous comments. My email is avail via my blog, I know you dont know me but I promise Im not that dumb to use it if trying to hide, comments don’t need emails verified. Someone can just put your email and a comment under Josh most anywhere.

    Since John blocked me on Twitter (For what I dont know, he sure seems sensitive) maybe he’ll read here that he can fuck off. I dont care about yall enough to watch twitter like a cat on a rat. If I see something in my timeline I read it, that’s it. So now he blocks me and wants to use my name in vein? Coward.

    If you or him thought it was me why not ask straight up? Ill fucking tell you. Trying to put my name on something I didn’t write/type aint cool. Im easy to find and ask. Why the hell do I need to hide? Do I think y’alls gang up attacks are stupid? Hell yeah. Did I used to let it irritate me that bc I share fun stuff on LTH Im “one of them” according to some? Yeah. Get riled up bc people were bashing a series of posts I make? Yeah. How freaking lame. I dont need to be dragged into others’ beef with them, I just try to post the mom and pop family shit, that’s always been my MO. Are you losers? I dont know, or care. Ive only ever met Kenny, as we cross paths at Toons and he’s much nicer in person than he comes off as online as Im sure we all do. I would never bring family into anything, especially this petty. If you knew me, you’d know I have standards. Those that deserve it, get it. A food fight is childish. Why Im wasting my time trying to explain I dont even know, maybe bc assumption is something I cant stand.

    Enough said. So that’s that, its all food which we end up shitting out anyway so who gives a fuck? Not worth it when there’s real stuff to be done. But that said I dont need some rumors going around making make me seem like a lame ass. IM NOT GEORGE OR ANYONE THAT EVER LEFT AN ANONYMOUS COMMENT.

    Well anyway Is Taj ever going to become that third star? Not happening. Well next time there’s an anonymous comment let me know, Id guess its the guy with god awful pics you love to point out (if he’s actually real and not “one of them”) or gonzo or someone else pretending to be me. Hell maybe its someone I know and they’re not telling me. ITS NOT ME that much I can put on my mothers grave. Feel free to reply over twitter as I prob wont check back. G’Day!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Sky Full of Bacon » Blog Archive » Great Unknown Pizzas of the Near Northwest Suburbs

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